SAARC countries should join hands to make the region an abode of peace, progress and prosperity, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said.
She was addressing the 8th Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians on the theme ‘Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians a Platform for the Parliamentarians of South Asia to work together to reach the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Colombo’.
She emphasized that the implementation of the “noble goals” in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be successful only when SAARC countries present a united front, according to a press statement issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat.
She said SAARC nations need to interact and cooperate collectively to address the challenges that their region is facing in achieving these ambitious goals.
SAARC is a grouping of eight South Asian nations — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Maldives.
The Speaker, who is heading a delegation of Indian parliamentarians at the conference, said that nowhere in the world are collective efforts more important than in South Asia which is home to about one fourth of the world population.
As such, the global success of the SDGs is heavily dependent on their successful implementation in the SAARC countries, she underlined, according to the press statement.
She said the SAARC nations should also be reactive and re-energize various fora created under the auspices of SAARC for information sharing and monitoring of various issues of common interest, the statement said.
She observed that this would facilitate informed decision making in the region.
Quoting the adage poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere, Mahajan said India has “sincerely chosen the path of removing poverty” by empowering the poor.
She said there are several shining examples of community-driven efforts in India, specially in the area of rainwater harvesting, water conservation and cleanliness to make positive changes in the ground realities, it said.
Recalling that the ‘2030 Agenda’ recognizes the essential role to be played by the national parliaments in the implementation of SDGs, Mahajan said their oversight and legislative functions need to be further strengthened by focusing more on SDGs in the whole process of parliamentary control and accountability.
To meet this objective, cooperation and exchange of experiences among the legislative bodies of South Asian countries would be crucially important, she said.
In this regard, she informed the delegates that the parliamentarians in India have been pursuing the ‘2030 Agenda’ with “full vigor and spirit”.
In the last two years, Parliament of India has been dedicating one day in each session for discussing SDGs and their implementation, the Speaker said.
She mentioned about her decision of forming the Speaker’s Research Initiative (SRI) to assist the Members of Parliament by providing them with a deeper insight into the varied issues of developmental concern.
She said the SRI would be too happy to extend all possible cooperation should any of the friends in SAARC and elsewhere like to engage with it for sharing of best practices and information.