Fourth edition of Young Scholars’ Forum stresses on connectivity-driven policy

To promote regional cooperation on shared waterways in Eastern South Asia extending up to the Indo-Pacific region, re-imagining river development through multi-faceted regional cooperation and stepped-up connectivity is critically important.

As rivers are envisioned as a metaphor for connecting lands, people, cultures and traditions meanwhile spurring growth and trade-related activities, special emphasis must be laid on promoting best practices in order to protect and preserve rivers through conscious and planned endeavours. The scope for bilateral and multilateral exchanges, knowledge sharing and dialogues needs to be explored in this regard.

The fourth edition of the Young Scholars’ Forum organised by the Asian Confluence provided the opportunity for this dialogue. The meeting was held last week in Shillong, Meghalaya, India in collaboration with Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi, and Asian Center for Development, Bangladesh and Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs.

Ambassador Shahidul Islam who also serves as Secretary General, BIMSTEC Secretariat, said that the stakeholders should have unanimity of opinions regarding the interests of the region. “The stakeholders should expedite dialogues and regional cooperation to bring together ideas, collaborations and actions towards creating a more connected and integrated region,” he further said.

Ram Muivah, Secretary, North Eastern Council, heartily welcomed the fourth edition of the forum and said that the engagement of young minds is a key ingredient towards solving development challenges in the North East. He highlighted the immense potential that the region has, particularly in terms of cross-border trade, tourism, water resources, and hordes of other sectors and connecting physically, culturally and intellectually will help North East region to be transformed from a land-locked to a water-linked land bridge.

Ambassador TCA Raghavan, Director General, Indian Council of World Affairs, shared his views by saying that scholarship is key to harness ideas, energies and faculties from young minds towards the development of a more connected and prosperous region.

Shyam KC, Research and Development Director, AIDIA, indicated at the minimal level of South Asian intra-regional economic cooperation despite having abundant resources at its disposal. He stressed on the significance of the connectivity-driven policy focus for enhancing regional cooperation.

The forum came up with key ideas and directions for research and action agenda to be taken up by young scholars from across the region to influence the regional discourse on water and rivers. The forum concluded that coalitions and tangible collaborations both within and across borders, based on fresh thinking, ideation and research by young minds is the key to create a change pathway that speaks to the needs of the countries and region.

Involved and participatory thinking and action will help bring creative breakthroughs, which in turn will help find solutions to complex and layered problems of the region.

A total of 24 institutions and organisations participated at the forum.