The CAREC Institute’s Third Annual Research Conference “Prospects for an Inclusive Green Growth and Sustainability in the CAREC Region” was held online on September 20-21. The conference, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), aimed to foster connections between research and policymaking by systematically documenting policy-oriented research and contemporary thinking on inclusive and green economic growth. The conference, which brought together more than 120 researchers and experts, included presentations of research manuscripts that will be compiled and published as the CAREC Institute’s Third Annual Book.
Mr. Kabir Jurazoda, Director of the CAREC Institute, opened the conference with welcoming remarks, emphasizing the urgency of addressing climate change, achieving sustainable economic growth, and promoting inclusive development for the CAREC region. As Central Asian countries witness the impact of climate change on the environment and society, the need for regional cooperation to find solutions to green growth and sustainable development is of paramount importance. And Third Annual Research Conference serves as a platform to catalyze necessary transformative ideas and initiate meaningful discussion. “By uniting our efforts and knowledge, we strive to shape a future in where economic prosperity goes hand in hand with environmental stewardship and social justice – a future that is resilient, inclusive, and sustainable for generations to come,” said Mr. Kabir Jurazoda.
“CAREC and the ADB are committed to helping member countries develop and implement their national climate strategies,” added Dr. Lyaziza Sabyrova, Regional Head of the ADB Regional Cooperation and Integration, Central and West Asia Department, “The ADB supports member countries in assessing, refining and implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions, national adaptation plans and other climate-related priorities.” CAREC countries’ strategic goals for climate change adaptation and mitigation require adequate resources, while mobilization of climate finance is a challenge for governments, and in response to this challenge, the ADB and its partners are planning to establish a multi-donor trust fund for CAREC regional climate and sustainable development projects. She pointed to three areas that require new knowledge and rigorous research analysis — cross-border technology transfer to reduce the technology gap; private sector participation in green development; and inclusivity to ensure that every voice, regardless of income, gender or background, is heard and valued.
Dr. Albert Park, Chief Economist and Director General of the ADB, delivered the keynote address on “CAREC in the Global Transition to Net Zero.” He noted that developing countries in Asia are the most vulnerable to climate change and there are three policy pillars they can apply to decarbonize their economies: i) price reform by pricing carbon emissions and eliminating subsidies that contribute to emissions; ii) promoting low-carbon responses by introducing rules and incentives for decarbonization and attracting finance for low-carbon activities; iii) and ensuring justice by working towards equitable international sharing of the burden of mitigation, compensating and protecting vulnerable groups, and helping those affected to adapt.
During the special session, Dr. Johannes Linn, Senior Fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution, presented the findings of the report “CAREC 2030: Supporting Regional Actions to Address Climate Change.” The report is the result of a scoping study on climate change in the CAREC region, commissioned by the CAREC Secretariat, that outlines a strategic approach to regional climate action and identifies principles to guide sectoral climate actions, priority areas for investment, and recommends concrete steps to achieve a more resilient and climate-resilient region. He emphasized that the CAREC Program and the CAREC Institute can play a leading role in supporting coordinated climate action among CAREC member countries, providing research and capacity building with a focus on regional climate change.
During the session “Climate change and sustainability,” CAREC researchers Dr. Yao Yinxin from the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Dr. Falendra Kumar from University of Jammu, Dr. Liu Chang from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Dr. Asif Razzaq from the CAREC Institute presented and discussed research papers related to carbon emissions and climate change. The presenters spoke about the importance of CAREC national governments taking proactive actions to apply innovations in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, implementing multiple policies to reach carbon neutrality, increasing investment in adaptation efforts to deal with the water crisis, improving productive capacity to reconcile economic growth with environmental stewardship, and strengthen regional cooperation.
During the second session of the conference, researchers Dr. Dimitris Symeonidis from Decentralized Solutions Global Network, Dr. Burulcha Sulaimanova from OSCE Academy and Dr. Ilma Sharif from the University of Karachi, Dr. Dina Azhgaliyeva from the ADBI, and Dr. Ummara Razi from the Sunway University Business School presented their papers related to issues of green energy, energy transition and sustainability. Based on their research, the speakers suggested that CAREC countries stimulate development and access to renewable energy sources, eliminate subsidies on conventional energy sources, improve environmental and energy tariff regulations, attract investment from private investors to integrate digital advances into the renewable energy sector, promote market mechanisms and encourage international cooperation to share experiences. To balance long-term brown and green growth, countries need to adopt green growth strategies and diversify energy sources to reduce vulnerability of their economies to price volatility. Importantly, CAREC countries need more research on various aspects of inclusive and green economic growth, knowledge and policy dialogues, and green skills development.
The second day of the conference began with a discussion of issues of regional integration and sustainable development. Dr. Hassan Daud Butt from Bahria University, Dr. Zainab Ahmed from Lahore Garrison University, Dr.Fu Xin and Dr. Changzhen Zhang from Hohai University, Dr. Mohsin Shahzad from Liaoning Normal University, Dr. Deng Yujia and Dr. Zheng Xinyi from Xinjiang Agricultural University, Dr. Adeel Kadri from and Dr. Muhammad Musa from Manzil Pakistan and Dr. Nurlyaiym Zhaksybayeva from Nazarbayev University, addressed various topics of trade and regional economic cooperation to reduce the region’s vulnerability to climate change. The researchers called for greater regional environmental integration for sustainable future for the CAREC region by implementing joint environmental projects, coordinating disaster preparedness and response, harmonizing environmental policies and establishing regional disaster response mechanisms, as well as by supporting capacity building and information sharing. They noted that developing policies which encourage the integration of environmental, social and governance and circular economy concepts in business, will help channel capital toward sustainable endeavors. In turn, regional cooperation on green agriculture, such as the establishment of agricultural demonstration parks and warehouses, and the use of cross-border e-commerce, will promote the development of regional value chains, technology transfer and trade.
The conference concluded with a panel discussion in which researchers Dr. Imran Aziz from the IMF, Dr. Zheng Yuan from the New Development Bank, Dr. Farhad Taghizadeh-Hesary from Tokai University, and Dr. Wang Meng from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, shared their views about effective strategies for climate action and sustainable development in the CAREC region. They brought examples of best international policy practices which help integrate environmental issues with programs for economic growth and social progress and encourage businesses to adopt sustainable practices. Dr. Hans Holzhacker, Chief Economist of the CAREC Institute, concluded the panel discussion session by noting the importance of regional cooperation during the post-pandemic recovery and green transition to bridge gaps in knowledge, financing and technology.