SAES Returns to Sri Lanka

Six years since its inauguration in Colombo, the South Asia Economic Summit (SAES) will be held once again in Sri Lanka from 2nd to 4th September 2013, hosted by the country’s leading economic policy think tank, the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS). Held annually since 2008, the SAES is hosted in a different South Asian country each time. The Summit has become the premier regional event that debates socio-economic issues facing South Asia, and brings together the leading experts from academia, government, civil society and the private sector in this region.

This year’s SAES will tackle many of the critical issues facing the economies and the people of South Asian countries, including the imperatives for closer regional cooperation. The emerging growth opportunities and challenges for South Asia in the context of changing global economic dynamics will come into focus at this Summit, similar to the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland, albeit at a regional level. With the summit theme of ‘Towards a Stronger, Dynamic, and Inclusive South Asia’, the three days of deliberations will discuss what South Asian states need to do to strengthen their economic growth prospects while managing risks and challenges, while building a stronger region as a whole. The main issues that will be highlighted at this 6th Summit will be under four broad themes – harnessing human capital; tackling environmental challenges and climate change; managing intra-country growth disparities; and supporting the competitiveness of private-sector enterprises. The Summit is expected to host around 150 foreign delegates from South Asia and beyond, and will feature several special events including a televised debate on regional economic integration.

While the diplomatic discussions among South Asian countries continue at the SAARC level, the SAES has become an important Track II process which feeds in vital analysis and policy insights into the formal regional integration agenda. The recommendations emerging from this Summit aim to inform and influence the direction of official SAARC processes, as well as those of individual governments in the region. A wide dissemination of these outcomes among regional stakeholders is a key aim of this forum.

IPS, the host institution of this year’s SAES, successfully hosted the inaugural South Asia Economic Summit in 2008 in Colombo. The other partners in the SAES process include the Centre for Policy Dialogue – CPD (Bangladesh), South Asia Watch on Trade, Environment and Economics – SAWTEE (Nepal), Sustainable Development Policy Institute – SDPI (Pakistan) and Research and Information Systems for Developing Countries – RIS (India).