Washington: South Asian countries need to cooperate more with each other to make meaningful improvement on shared issues related to climate change and resource scarcity, a report released by a US-based think tank has said.
The report, titled "Ecological Cooperation in South Asia: A Way Forward", highlights lack of cooperation between South Asian nations which continues to hamper efforts to create meaningful partnerships on environmental problems.
Written by Saleem H Ali, a professor at the University of Vermont and University of Queensland in Australia, the report say the most consequential ecological features in South Asia are the Himalayas and their rivers, and this is where some of the worst territorial disputes in the region take place.
Difficult visa process, which often discriminates against individuals of a different regional nationality, along with many other factors, have forced partnerships on environmental concerns to rely on foreign donors, it says.
Collaborating on environmental issues, such as finding more efficient means of water and energy usage, is a mutually beneficial opportunity for countries to build trust and peace, it says.
"The ecological cooperation from such regionalism has the potential for building trust to resolve long-standing territorial disputes, especially between India and Pakistan," the report says.
It notes that SAARC remains the most promising forum for deepening relationships between the experts and officials working on environmental issues in South Asia countries.
The Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan has served an important purpose of preventing riparian conflict, and it should maintain this role with additional regional technology transfer and integrated water management functions to reduce inefficiencies, the report recommends.
Among other things, the report suggests that cooperative programmes by international donors should strengthen their focus on mountain ecosystems, given their prominent environmental vulnerability as well as their importance in defining territorial borders.
Observing that a gradual shift from bilateralism to multilateralism is essential for the ecologically sustainable development of South Asia, the report says such a shift should be instrumental used for peace-building through diplomatic measures.