Academicians to enhance regional cooperation in post COVID-19 world.

ISLAMABAD -- South Asian countries must enhance regional knowledge sharing and mutual cooperation,especially in the areas of health and food security, with each other to deal with global pandemics like COVID-19 in the future, the educationists said on Wednesday.

The experts from South Asia and Pacific region said this while sharing views with the audience at an online policy dialogue titled: 'COVID-19 and regional cooperation in South Asia' organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).

Experts from South Asia and Pacific region, including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan and Australia participated in the dialogue where they also discussed the benefits of platform such as SAARC that could be used effectively by applying a sectoral approach, especially in the areas of health, food security, social sector development and climate change in the region.

Dr Zahid Shahab Ahmed, Research Fellow, Deakin University, Australia, said that COVID-19 had provided us with the opportunity to revive regional cooperation between the SAARC countries. He said that the priorities need to be changed and the post-COVID-19 cooperation could be more focused on food supply chain, livelihood and vaccination. The idea of SAARC Virtual Summit needs to be worked upon to revive cooperation on such urgent matters.

Dr Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, Dhaka University, Bangladesh, said that South Asia was the least integrated region in the world. The coronavirus had exposed our development models that needed to be made people-centric now, he added.

Prof. Dr Shaheen Akhtar, National Defence University, Islamabad, said that it was time to establish sustainable peace in the region and to take the confidence-building measures to help people in distress in the conflict areas. She said in addition to challenges posed by COVID-19, the issues related to food security and climate change should also be the focus of collaborative efforts in the region.

Dr Niranjan Sahoo, Senior Research Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, India, was of the view that the SAARC countries should be looking forward to revive this platform, establish peace and respond to shared challenges...

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