The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) has been organising a series of Sustainable Development Conferences (SDCs) since 1995. The SDC is a flagship event of the Institute that not only provides a forum for SDPI’s own research but also invites other researchers, practitioners, policy makers and academia from the region to share their work and engage in a dialogue with fellow panellists and audience. This annual event has been established as a prime Conference in South Asia with a major focus on Asia. It is one of SDPI’s many efforts in tackling sustainable development challenges through mutual and collaborative knowledge sharing, critical analyses and best practices.
From this Conference comes out an edited and peer reviewed anthology that is jointly published by SDPI and a publisher. The anthology is then launched at the following SDC and circulated widely both by the Institute and the publisher.
The first SDC, titled The Green Economics Conference, was organized by SDPI in 1995. This conference focused on the interaction between economics and the environment, and included research papers on trade, fiscal policy, EIAs, green accounting, forestry, energy, industry and the urban environment.
The second SDC, in 1996, addressed the broad theme of sustainable development including pollution abatement, resource management, conservation of biodiversity, the transfer and use of technology, trade and environment, human development and poverty alleviation, and social capital and governance. The conference was successful in highlighting key issues facing the country and bringing out the latest thinking and analysis to identify solutions.
The theme of the third conference was A Dialogue on Environment and Natural Resource Conservation. The conference, held in 1998, focussed on stimulating a dialogue on practical policy options for key environmental challenges facing Pakistan. The two broad thematic areas of Urban Environment and Natural Resources concentrated on urban pollution, water resource management, deforestation and sustainable agriculture with presentations by experts from within Pakistan and the South Asian region.
The Fourth Sustainable Development Conference titled Discourse on Human Security was organised in collaboration with RCSS, ActionAid, IPRI and SNPO in 2000. It focused on the changes and improvement in government policies and practice with regard to human security. The conference was designed to raise awareness of senior policy makers, key federal and provincial government officials and civil society groups like the media and NGOs on security issues. The immediate feedback from government, NGOs and media was extremely encouraging.
The fifth conference titled Sustainable Development and Southern Realities: Past and Future in South Asia, held in 2002, critically re-examined the conceptualisation and implementation of sustainable development in its multiple dimensions: economic, political, social, and moral. The conference scrutinized and consolidated some of the ideas presented at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and resituated debates in the South Asian context.
The overarching theme of the Sixth SDC was “Sustainable Development: Bridging the Research/Policy Gaps in Southern Contexts”. It was held in December 2003. The conference focused on the problematique of knowledge production about southern contexts in the South. It explored policy/research gaps in two directions: in some places policy needs to be fed by better research while in others, policy needs to take better account of existing solid research. It focused on the ways and means for translating this knowledge into effective policy initiatives locally, nationally, regionally and internationally by identifying the multiple gaps between research and policies in different sectors.
The SDPI specifically tries to be gender sensitive while organizing the Conference and invites both women and men as speakers, chairs and discussants. Of the 116 speakers who participated in this SDC, there were 69 male speakers and 47 female and of the 1,340 people who attended the conference, some 818 were male and 522 female.
‘Troubled Times: Sustainable Development and Governance in the Age of Extremes’ was the overarching theme of the Seventh Sustainable Development Conference held in December 2004. The conference tackled various questions such as whether there is sound governance around development and whether this is ensuring just development? Whether there is more sharing of resources including natural, and institutional? Is there a strengthening of regional and international institutions? How much progress has been achieved in South Asia vis-à-vis governance? Is government more transparent today than it was a decade ago? Have governments kept their promises to the marginalized, whether the poor, women or minorities? How can we avoid repeating the mistakes of the past? What would be the effective strategies to do so? Or is it a world of extremes—a world that is extremely rich but with unparalleled inequalities of income and access to resources—with the marginalized becoming even more marginalized. It provided an opportunity to discuss the global economy, the new terms of trade, the transfer of resources from the developing world to the first world and whether such moves are benefiting a few only. The conference brought together some 150 panellists from 18 countries. The gender ratio of the panellists was 64% (male) and 36% (female).
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) held its Eighth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 7—9 December 2005 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Some 136 panellists from 11 countries participated in the Eighth SDC. The conference examined the multiple facets of sustainable development in the contexts of South Asia. The speakers discussed how problems and issues in South Asia could be dealt effectively at various levels based on prior experience of successful policy interventions.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) held its Ninth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 13-15 December 2006 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of the Ninth SDC was “Missing Links in Sustainable Development (SD): South Asian Perspectives”. The concept of SD is essentially an interdisciplinary one. Economists, environmentalists, anthropologists, political scientists and others have advanced rigorous theories to explore the various dimensions of sustainable development. Yet, often their findings and suggestions have not been noticed beyond disciplinary boundaries; they have been ignored in the policy arena and thus could not contribute to solving problems at the grassroots level. Narrowing the gaps in sustainability research and bridging the space between the scientific discourse on SD and practical steps towards a sustainable South Asia has been the mission of SDPI’s conference series on sustainable development. The Ninth Sustainable Development Conference thus aimed at identifying the missing links in SD for South Asia and proposed fillers for those. The region’s pool of cutting-edge academics was tapped and top researchers invited together with policy-makers, activists and other relevant stakeholders for a vibrant three-day debate.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute held its Tenth Sustainable Development Conference from 10-12 December 2007 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of the SDPI’s Tenth SDC was “Sustainable Solutions: A Spotlight on South Asian Research”. The Tenth SDC discussed sustainable solutions to problems of poverty, illiteracy, mortality and morbidity, environmental degradation and disaster management, gender inequality, insecurity, peace and history. It focused on looking at both innovative solutions, as well as indigenously developed alternatives that have survived generations of development. Some 65 panellists from 10 countries participated in the Tenth SDC while an audience of some 1,000 attended the three-day event. SDC anthology titled “Missing Links in Sustainable Development: South Asian Perspectives” consisting of peer reviewed papers from the previous conference was also launched at the occasion.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute held its Eleventh Sustainable Development Conference from 1-3 December 2008 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of the SDPI’s Eleventh SDC was “Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia: Issues and Challenges of Globalisation”. Speakers at the Eleventh SDC deliberated on various sustainable development concerns such as where we stand in solving the dilemmas of inequality, poverty, climate change and energy scarcity, natural resources degradation, trade liberalization policies, food insecurity, violence and conflict, re-writing history, and poor governance. The Conference aimed to explore how resolving some of the non-conventional security threats may turn into an added dividend for peace. About 70 panellists participated from nine different countries in this Conference. Tenth SDC anthology titled “Sustainable Solutions: A Spotlight on South Asian Research” was also launched at the inaugural session of the conference.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) held its Twelfth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 21-23 December 2009 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of the Conference was “Fostering Sustainable Development in South Asia: Responding to Challenges”. The Twelfth SDC focused on the six ‘Fs’ crisis pertaining to food; fiscal; fuel; frontiers; functional democracy; and, fragility of climate. Scholars from South Asia and other regions were invited to delve further on these issues and shared with the audience where South Asia stands today vis-à-vis coping with the six “Fs” crisis facing the region. Gender remained a crosscutting theme. Over 92 delegates from 11 countries participated in this three-day Conference. An audience of over 1,400 came to listen and participate in the 21 panels and two keynote plenary sessions. An anthology based on peer reviewed and approved papers from the Eleventh SDC was launched at the inaugural session. The book titled “Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia: Issues and Challenges of Globalisation” was jointly published by SDPI and Sang-e-Meel Publications.
SDPI held its Thirteenth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 21-23 December 2010 in Islamabad, Pakistan titled “Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia: The Way Forward”. Peace and security were at the centre of discussions during this conference. Speakers deliberated upon how economic challenges could be handled with positive results in terms of natural resources while at the same time increasing the capacity and effectiveness of institutions. The panels covered themes such as post-flood situation in Pakistan, food insecurity, energy and financial crisis, the issue of land acquisition, trade and financial liberalization, social protection, the eradication of violence against women, the role of think tanks in peace and sustainable development, sound management of chemicals, climate change, religious diversity, labour issues, and so on. An audience of over 1,500 participated during the three-day deliberations and listened to 60 speakers from 11 different countries. SDPI also launched its anthology based on peer reviewed 11 chapters/papers presented at the Twelfth SDC. The title of the book is “Fostering Sustainable Development in South Asia: Responding to Challenges” and was jointly published by SDPI and Sang-e-Meel Publications.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) held its Fourteenth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) titled “Redefining Paradigms of Sustainable Development in South Asia” from 13—15 December 2011 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The Fourteenth SDC showcased 28 panels and two plenary sessions. In these sessions, 162 panellists participated from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Belgium, USA, Canada, Palestine, Switzerland, Germany and the UK. Of the 162 participants, 103 were speakers, 31 discussants and 28 chairs. The conference featured a broad spectrum of themes: livelihood; governance; literature; sufism; poverty; geo-politics; forest management; REDD+; social accountability; 18th Amendment; land rights; food security; education financing; feminism; economic non-cooperation; energy; water governance; and, energy and sustainability. SDC anthology titled ‘Peace and Sustainable Development in South Asia: The Way Forward’ based on papers presented at the Thirteenth SDC was also launched at the occasion along with SDPI’s Sustainable Development Television (SDTV). For the first time, the conference was streamed live and video packages of the sessions were produced and uploaded.
Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s (SDPI) Fifteenth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) was held from 11—13 December 2012 in Islamabad. The overarching theme of the Conference was ‘Sustainable Development in South Asia: Shaping the Future’. As the title suggests, speakers looked at the future of sustainable development in South Asia. They analysed how things will look 20, 30 or even 50 years from now; threw light on issues that will be looming large; made concrete suggestions on how to overcome future challenges; and, gave practical policy recommendations about a sustainable South Asia that we want. Fifteenth SDC showcased 24 panels and 3 plenary sessions hosting 145 delegates from 18 countries including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, India, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, the Netherlands, UK, and the USA. The Conference was host to over 1,600 audience spread over three days who participated in the dialogue with the panellists.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) organized its Sixteenth SDC “Creating Momentum: Today is Tomorrow” from 10—12 December 2013 in Islamabad, Pakistan, at the Best Western Hotel. SDPI’s Sixteenth SDC showcased 27 panels and two plenary sessions: opening and closing. In these sessions, 161 panellists participated from Afghanistan, Australia (via Skype), Bangladesh, Canada, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand (via Skype), UK and the US. Of the 161 participants, 122 were speakers, 56 special commentators, chairpersons and guests of honour. The SDC lighted our present position and inclination to forecast and potentially modify our decisions that may improve our tomorrow. Under various sub-themes, the conference brought to attention that the failure to act urgently is premised on the argument that waiting for another tomorrow for action will result in wasting opportunities that may not be available ever again.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s (SDPI) Seventeenth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) was held from 9 to 11 December 2014 at the Best Western Hotel, Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of the SDC was ‘Pathways to Sustainable Development’. This year’s SDC looked at the leadership change in China, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, India, and Afghanistan that could hold the key in shaping the pathways to sustainable development in this region. The region needs political and executive leadership that has a commitment to strategize for peace and human security and raise tangible safeguards for the political economy of the region while engaging with the primary stakeholders, i.e. the people. In this backdrop, issues of climate change, migration, sustainable and inclusive economic growth; sharing of energy resources across the region; environmental challenges; food security; human rights; women in the peace process; regional connectivity; and, many others were deliberated on. The conference aimed to identify the role of different stakeholders, especially the governments, civil society and private sector that may engage differently to define new pathways to sustainable development. In this SDC, in the 28 panels and 3 plenary sessions, 194 panellists from 18 countries participated as speakers, special commentators, chairpersons and guests of honour. It was the highest number of panellists as compared to the previous years. The 18 countries that the panellists represented included Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, UK, and the USA.
The two events, SDPI’s Eighteenth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC); and, Eighth South Asia Economic Summit (SAES), were held from 7 – 10 December 2015 at the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad. The mega events hosted a total of 225 panellists of which 152 were from Pakistan and 73 from 16 other countries. Panellists came from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, UK and the USA.
The Eighteenth SDC titled “Securing Peace and Prosperity” was a thinkers’ agenda, a gathering of regional think tanks working closely with policy makers of their respective countries and representatives of existing and potential SAARC member countries; a congregation of visionaries in Islamabad. SDPI’s Eighteenth SDC focused on understanding regional integration and the attempt of SAARC countries at various forums recently to establish new corridors to achieve sustainable development in the region and beyond.
The Eighth South Asia Economic Summit (SAES), the premier regional platform for debate and analysis of politico-socio-economic issues and problems facing South Asia, brought together stakeholders to review and reflect current issues facing the South Asian countries. The overarching theme of the SAES was “Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Development in South Asia”.
This overarching theme of the Nineteenth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) was ‘Sustainable Development: Envisaging the Future Together’. It was held from 6 to 8 December 2016 at the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad. The Conference focussed upon cooperation between developed and developing countries for sustainable development; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and, human centeredness. Under the overarching theme, the Conference hosted sessions on a wide variety of sub-themes including recovering from conflict, the SDGs, trade, economic growth, environment, sustainable energy, regional economic integration, minority rights, disaster management and preparedness, climate change, youth employment, gender and demography, gender and democracy and so on.
A total of 29 concurrent sessions and three plenary sessions were organised during the three days. An audience of over 2,500 attended the 3-day conference. Some 152 panellists participated from 18 countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Canada, China, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkey, UK, and the USA. Over 42 international delegates from other countries became a part of the Conference.
The Twentieth Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) titled ‘Seventy Years of Development: The Way Forward’ from 5 – 7 December 2017 organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) will be remembered within and by the development sector of Pakistan and the region for some time as one of the largest congregation of biggest, best and brightest minds coming together in 40 panels, roundtables and podium discussions, many of which were concurrent including four plenary sessions.
Twentieth SDC during the 25th year of SDPI examined 70 years of development in Pakistan and the region with participation from around the world. A total of 269 panellists representing the following 16 countries became part of this mega event: Afghanistan, China, Ethiopia, Finland (Via Skype), France, Germany, India, Italy, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand (via Skype), The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, UK, the USA. An audience of over 3,000 attended the three-day flagship event of SDPI.
Twenty-first SDC and Eleventh SAES
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) held its Twenty-first Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) and the Eleventh South Asia Economic Summit (SAES XI), from 4 – 7 December 2018 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference was “Corridors of Knowledge for Peace and Development”.
The Twenty-first SDC and Eleventh SAES discussed not only the economic corridor, but also other corridors of connectivity and knowledge and how they could steer us towards peace and development.
The 40 sessions at the mega event discussed that while a few regional organisations and processes may have stalled, the road to development must go on. This growing trend should not be allowed to impact research and development efforts and learning from each other’s best practices. In fact, new collaborative partnerships need to be established on knowledge sharing and building bridges, while simultaneously strengthening old ones.
A total of 261 delegates attended the mega event from 20 countries including Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil (via Skype), Brussels, Canada, China, Germany, Kenya, Maldives, France, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines, UK and the USA. While 204 delegates came from within the country, the remaining 57 represented the rest of the countries listed. An audience of over 4,000 attended the four days of Conference.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) organised its Twenty-second Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 2 – 5 December 2019 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference was “Sustainable Development in a Digital Society”.
The overarching theme of this SDC was inspired by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and an era of digitalisation which has changed how human beings interact in the era of rapid revolution in technologies. SDPI’s Twenty-second SDC brought together scholars, researchers, policy-makers, game changers, and members of the civil society to deliberate on ideas how to cash in on the Fourth Industrial Revolution where artificial intelligence is playing a lead role in our lives.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) held its Twenty-third Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 14 – 17 December 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of the Conference was Sustainable Development in the Times of COVID-19. Due to the ongoing pandemic, it was the very first time that the annual Conference was held on a virtual platform with speakers hosted from the following 26 countries: Afghanistan, Africa, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Canada, China, Ecuador, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. Of the 45 sessions, there were 9 plenary sessions and 36 concurrent panels. During the four-day Conference, 193 speakers joined from Pakistan while another 63 came from the countries mentioned above. It was attended by an audience of over 6,800 from 84 countries.The Twenty-third SDC showcased launch of the SDC 2019 anthology titled ‘Sustainable Development in a Digital Society’, a peer reviewed publication. It is available for download at https://sdpi.org/sdconference/Sustainable-Development-in-the-Times-of-COVID-19/publications