South Asian Experts Collaborate to Tackle Global Challenges Amid Wars and Climate Crisis
South Asian experts from various countries recently convened in Kathmandu to discuss effective strategies for combatting the pressing global challenges that the world is currently facing. With conflicts raging in Ukraine and the Middle East, the global supply chain is being disrupted, exacerbating the ongoing climate crisis. In light of these issues, members of South Asian think tanks gathered to brainstorm potential solutions to mitigate the repercussions of these conflicts.
Former Major General Dipankar Banerjee emphasized the importance of South Asian think tanks coming together to find lasting solutions. He highlighted the inadequacy of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and stressed that cooperation among South Asian nations is crucial in addressing the common crises faced by both the region and the world. Banerjee expressed optimism about the immense potential for collaboration among South Asian countries.
During the event, Mallika Joseph, a senior fellow at Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace, underscored the multiplicity of challenges that the world is currently confronting. These challenges range from war and the erosion of multilateralism to the rise of right-wing extremism, shrinking democratic space, and China’s expanding influence in South Asian nations. Joseph pointed out the decline and decay of multilateral institutions and stressed the urgent need for reforms.
Avadesh Mathur from the India Foundation highlighted the disruptive nature of the current global landscape, citing supply chain disruption and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mathur noted the formation of new alliances and the end of unipolarity, signaling a shift in the global order. With the United Nations Security Council failing to pass resolutions on the conflicts in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war, Mathur warned that the world is headed towards chaos. He specifically mentioned the potential derailing of the India-Middle-East-Europe Economic Corridor due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Colonel Nalin Herath of Sri Lanka affiliated with the Institute of National Security Studies emphasized the various challenges facing the world, including war, unemployment, supply chain disruption, and the threats posed by Artificial Intelligence. He cautioned that geopolitical tensions continue to rise with the crises in the Middle East, the Quad alliance, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the climate crisis. Herath highlighted how the escalating situation in the Middle East could directly impact South Asia through oil supply disruptions, affecting remittance and the overall economic situation of South Asian countries.
Shambhu Ram Simkhada, a former ambassador of Nepal to Switzerland, criticized the failure of Europe and the United Nations in addressing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He emphasized that the world is facing a leadership crisis and called for a reevaluation of how nation-states function.
Geeta Madhavan from India shed light on the multidimensional effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on various aspects of Indian society, economy, education, employment, and politics. She also addressed the issue of internally displaced people during lockdowns and highlighted the setbacks faced by globalization and international trade.
The event featured speakers from across South Asia who shared their perspectives on the global disorder caused by ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and West Asia and their implications for the region. The discussions underscored the urgent need for collaboration, cooperation, and reform to address the interconnected challenges facing South Asia and the world.
Overall, the gathering of South Asian experts in Kathmandu highlighted the need for collective action and cooperation to navigate through the current global crises. As conflicts persist and the climate crisis deepens, it is imperative that countries work together to find sustainable solutions and ensure a better future for all.