The Fourth South Asia Forum on the SDGs (SASF), conceived as the subregional preparatory for the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) and the High-Level Policy Forum (HLPF) was organized by the South and South-West Asia Office of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in collaboration with the Government of Maldives on 2-3 December 2020.1 More than 600 participants including representatives of governments, academia, think tanks, civil society organizations, and other key stakeholders from South Asian countries participated in the Forum. The recording of the Forum is available on the website.
The 4th Forum took place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which began as a health crisis has become an unprecedented human and socio-economic crisis. Hence, the Forum focused on Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 in South Asia, aligned with the APFSD and HLPF themes for 2021. It focused on the cluster of SDGs to be reviewed at the 2021 HLPF, viz., SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and wellbeing), SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities), SDG 12 (Responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (Climate action), SDG 16 (Peace, justice, and strong institutions) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals). It drew upon the COVID-19 and South Asia: National Strategies and Subregional Cooperation for Accelerating Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Recovery (UNESCAP 2020), and reports of the High-Level Policy Dialogue on COVID-19 and South Asia held on 9 July 2020, and the Policy Dialogue on South Asian Cooperation for Accelerating Recovery from COVID-19 and Building Back Better held on 9 September 2020.
In cognizance of the need identified for enhancing the role of think-tanks in promoting regional cooperation for fulfilling the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the UNESCAP launched the South Asia Network of Think Tanks for SDGs (SANS) portal which can act as a knowledge platform for multi-stakeholder meetings for sharing of best practices and thereby accelerating SDGs implementation by South Asian countries.2
1 The First SASF was held in 2017 in Kathmandu in collaboration with the National Planning Commission, Nepal. The Second SASF was organized by UNESCAP in partnership with the NITI Aayog, India and the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), on 4-5 October 2018 in New Delhi. The Third SASF was jointly organized by UNESCAP and the Government of Bangladesh on 8-9 December 2019 in Dhaka.
2 See https://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/Policy%20Dialogue%20on%20Regional%20Cooperation%2010%20December%202019%20Dhaka_%20final.pdf