Inaugural session for the Second International Conference on Sustainable Development in Contemporary World: Priorities, Challenges and Prospects

Rawalpindi: Inaugural session for the Second International Conference on Sustainable Development in Contemporary World: Priorities, Challenges and Prospects was held on 4 October, 2022 at Fatima Jinnah Women University. The stage secretary Dr. Faiza Azhar Khan, welcomed guests, speakers, participants and audience. The Guest of Honor, Dr. Ishrat Husain, former Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), former Federal Minister and one of the most prolific economists of Pakistan, delivered Fatima Jinnah Lecture. The keynote speaker of the event was Prof. Dr. Hafiz Pasha. Dr. Pasha is a renowned economist presently serving as professor emeritus at Beacon House National University. International keynote address was delivered by Dr. Lant Pritchett, research director of RISE Programme.

Prof. Dr. Bushra Yasmin, Conference Coordinator, welcomed the guests and provided the conference overview. She deliberated on the relatability of the conference theme and contents for current circumstances and elaborated on different sessions and their importance. She paid her gratitude to the World Bank and South Asia Economic Policy Network for their collaboration and patronizing the conference. She expressed her hope for a successful and fruitful event.

Dr. Saima Hamid, the Vice Chancellor Fatima Jinnah Women University delivered her welcome address virtually. She highlighted that the extent of SDGs centric research taking place in the university is increasing and department of economics is at forefront in these research and related activities. She appreciated sponsors, dignitaries, organizers and participants for conducting the event at the time when it is most needed.

Dr. Hafiz Pasha, the keynote speaker for the conference emphasized the need of financial sustainability as a component of wider sustainability agenda. According to Dr. Pasha, Pakistan's financial profile has declined from stable to B negative on the international scale of financial stability and credibility. He also mentioned that Pakistan is the fourth-most vulnerable nation in terms of its exposure to sovereign debt. Even though the IMF progrmme has been reinstated, little has changed recently. Dr. Pasha continued in his speech by outlining the country's likely default reasons, which included a significant disparity between debt accumulation and foreign reserves, a worsening current account balance with declining export performance, and many looming difficulties like floods and other contingent risks. He suggested fixes include the need to control exchange rates, reinstate export incentives, and revise import duties.

Dr. Ishrat delivered the Fatima Jinnah Lecture and outlined the new paradigm for potential future directions and stressing that economics alone does not solve every issue. Currently, an interdisciplinary approach is required. He elaborated a number of elements that have altered the pathways for development and have produced a new power structure in the globe by beginning the journey from the history of development thought to the most vivid phenomenon of globalization. These variables include the ageing population, the advent of China as a significant political force, the threat of climate change, the unparalleled pace of technological advancement, and financial integration. He recognized the efforts made by the department of economics to bring all these disparate aspects of this emerging paradigm together on a single platform. He also inspired young people to capitalize the opportunities offered by technological advancement to address the widespread development challenges that nations like ours are confronting including income inequality, climate change and digital divide. He also suggested feasibility of a number of policy prescriptions to overcome all these challenges.

Dr Pritchett in his international keynote address emphasized that economic growth is pivotal for social progress, hence, any policy that does not prioritize economic growth as necessary condition for development is not going to deliver what it is supposed to. He elaborated that in Pakistan’s case, there is a need to recognize that climate change is not an outcome of any domestic policy, therefore, compromising on sustained growth for achieving sustainability is not a stable policy.

The session ended with the Guest of Honor being given a souvenir by the acting vice chancellor, Prof. Dr. Azra Yasmin and a photo-op with the participants of the conference.