Dhaka Global Dialogue 2019

The Dhaka Global Dialogue 2019 was jointly organized by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), Bangladesh and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), India. The Dialogue took place at Hotel InterContinental, Dhaka, Bangladesh from 11 to 13 November 2019. H E Sheikh Hasina, the Honourable Prime Minister, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was the Chief Guest of the Dialogue and she inaugurated the event.

The two and a half days’ dialogue looked at both the emerging regional and global political order and the associated institutional framework. It focused on discovering a human-first growth and development policy paradigm. It highlighted the seminal role of Bangladesh since it aspires to be a developed nation as per its overarching national “Vision 2041”. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be achieved largely due to the efforts of countries, such as Bangladesh which are scripting significant transitions, and are responding to their people’s aspirations in a manner that is sustainable, equitable and scalable. Bangladesh, through its magnificent achievements in economic growth, social development and women’s empowerment, has already emerged as a ‘role model of development’ for many countries in the region and beyond despite manifold constraints. Similarly, the politics of the Bay of Bengal and the larger Indo-Pacific region will dynamically shape the emerging political order in this century. Bangladesh will be one of the key actors of the Asian century and therefore creating an ‘ideas arena’ to discuss key developments and challenges in Dhaka was an acknowledgement of its role in this Dialogue.

Day 1# 11 November 2019

Inaugural Ceremony

HE Sheikh Hasina, the Honourable Prime Minister, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, inaugurated the Dialogue. Dr AK Abdul Momen, the Honourable Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, delivered the inaugural address. Major General AKM Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General of BIISS and Dr Samir Saran, President, ORF commenced the inaugural session with their welcome remarks.





Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS began with speaking about the economic development of Bangladesh. In the last ten years, the country has unlocked immense socio-economic development, business potential, built conducive infrastructure to facilitate growth, and harnessed the power of ICT to propel the country to the next phase of development. Praising the prudent leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he added that Bangladesh is now a model of how a populous country can transform its population into human resources by taking advantage of technology in combination with far-sighted policies. He suggested that it is imperative for the country to engage more deeply at the regional and global level as it has a lot to contribute in terms of partnership and sharing experiences.

Dr Samir Saran, President, ORF said that through achieving economic and social development, Bangladesh is now poised to share its valuable experience with others across the globe. While the world grapples with the uncertainties and challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, geostrategic realignments and vagaries of climate change, Bangladesh’s progress will be a key contributor to the creation of a new framework for growth and development – both in the Indo-Pacific and the world beyond, he added.  


Dr AK Abdul Momen, Honourable Foreign Minister of Bangladesh delivered the inaugural address at the Dialogue. He said that South Asia – India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and many others in the South East and East Asia are growing at a much faster rate than other countries. Thus, there is a vast area of possible future cooperation among them. With respect to achieving the SDGs, he said, the government took a three-pronged approach - mobilization of resources, both fund and technology, capacity building, and people’s empowerment at all stages of the decision-making process.



Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, referring to Bangladesh as “Miracle of Development” in the international arena, highlighted the economic achievement of Bangladesh. She added that in order to make these growths sustainable, the country has undertaken numerous initiatives, such as ‘Vision 2021’ and ‘Vision 2041’ to be a ‘Middle Income Country’ by 2021 and a ‘Developed-Prosperous Nation’ by 2041 and ‘Delta Plan-2100’ for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Emphasizing on the importance of Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, she stated that the Indian Ocean, being the source of immense resources and the part of strategically important seaways, is thus considered very important for region’s economic progress and security. In the area of maritime boundary and maritime economy, Bangladesh believes that strong competition among each other or ‘zero-sum game’ will not be helpful in flourishing the ‘Blue Economy’ of the Bay of Bengal or the Indian Ocean, rather would act as a stumbling block in ensuring security and stability in this region. Thus, for the durable development of the blue economy, the relations between coastal countries need to be cooperative, amicable, dignified and equitable. Addressing the issue of Rohingya as a security threat to the region, she also urged the world community to take appropriate action realizing the gravity of the threat.


Videos link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10ZoHNdrrIQ&t=320s


Panel: The Dhaka Consensus: Growth and Development in the Indo-Pacific



The Session was moderated by Samir Saran, President, Observer Research Foundation. Mr Md Shahriar Alam, MP, State Minister for Foreign Affairs; Ram Madhav, General Secretary, Bhartiya Janata Party, India; Julia Niblett, Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh and Veerle Nouwens, Research Fellow International Security Studies Department, Royal United Services Institute spoke at the session.


Mr Md Shahriar Alam, MP said that there is a chance for Indo-Pacific countries to reshape cooperation in the fields of trade, economy and maritime. Narrating a set of challenges, he said that there is need to remove trade barriers, achieve greater cooperation and create a conducive business environment. ASEAN is a major player for Indo-Pacific success and countries outside ASEAN should be given a chance to play more role in the forum. Mentioning Indo-Pacific as natural bonding, Shahriar Alam noted that investment in institutions is required to propel the growth further. He suggested that a European Union model of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region is imperative for rules-based democratic governance. Mr Ram Madhav said that the Indo-Pacific is a natural region which has not been created by any nation.  He mentioned that 50 per cent of the global population lives in the region, while 60 per cent of container shipments happen through the Indian Ocean. Therefore, it is extremely important to have a rules-based system and allow the small states of the region to have their roles. Julia Niblett said that given that the Indo-Pacific is the fastest growing region having a lot of trade opportunities, the countries need to keep in mind the issues of human rights, environment, gender equity, development and governance of institutions. Some of the challenges including regional security threat, piracy, illegal fishing, and irregular migration need to be taken into consideration. Huge infrastructures will be needed as cooperation grows in regional trade, but all initiatives need to be based on proper feasibility studies; no country should impose any infrastructure and put others into a debt trap. Veerle Nouwens said that BRI and IPS should not be antagonized and that the two initiatives are complementary.

Videos link: https://youtu.be/66RpTiivgpc

Panel: Climate Security and Migration

The panel titled “Climate Security and Migration” was moderated by Shri Kanchan Gupta, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation. The speakers of the panel were Mr Md Shahidul Haque, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh; Beatrice Mosello, Senior Project Manager, Adelphi; Mechthild Becker; Scientific Assistant, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh.

The panel discussed various issues relating to climate change and migration. Mr Md Shahidul Haque, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke about Bangladesh’s effort to further reduce its emissions up to 5 per cent by the year 2030. He talked about how climate change and ‘displacement’ are intricately linked with one another and why it is important to take measure against climate led displacement, which is part of climate change adaptation. He also highlighted Bangladesh’s role in formulating the Global Compact on Migration. Beatrice Mosello, Senior Project Manager, Adelphi talked about their research at global level on the impact of climate change impacts on the livelihood security, structural issues such as exiting inequality and political drivers and marginalisation. She said that it is important to consider the impact of climate change on security factors including how it impacts on the existing conflicts. Mechthild Becker, Scientific Assistant, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research focused on the impacts of climate change at the local level. She said that although there is a need to find local solutions; due to the transboundary nature of the problem, it can be only be solved through cooperation. She also said that it is important to focus on both adaptation and mitigation as the climate change process speeds up. Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh talked about the importance of both adaptation and mitigation. At a local level, he said that the countries need to focus on adaptation. He highlighted the need to manage the internal migration and said that the international organisations have a role to play in knowledge sharing among countries. The panel focused on the barriers of implementing the Paris Agreement especially the scarcity of funds and problems of technology transfer and how they can be solved. Special focus was given finding ‘coping mechanism’ and adaptation methods that are being developed locally. On the other hand, it was also mentioned that the polluters should take responsibility for the damage they have done to the climate.

Parallel Session: The Future of Work and Workspaces

The parallel session titled The Future of Work and Workspaces” moderated by Mike Kazi, Founder and Chairman, KITC. The speakers of the panel were Md. Shahidul Haque, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh; Peihan Janine Teo, CEO, Solve Education! and Josephine Romero, Senior Advisor and Lead for Digitalisation, Philippine Centre for Entrepreneurship GoNegosyo. The session focused on the nature and scope of employment and workplaces globally due to the demographic and technological transformation. As the relationship between the employer and employee becomes less relevant, it may no longer be effective to provide basic social insurance and protections through employment. Similarly, the responsibility for worker benefits has entered the grey zone as workplaces shift from factories and offices to mobile devices. With the workforce becoming more atomized, this panel examined how older mechanisms for solidarity and support can be adapted to an age defined by new methods of communications.

Parallel Session:Health and Nutrition: Responding to the Dual Disease Burden"

Lifestyle changes in the developing world mean that overburdened and underfunded health systems face a new double-burden: malnutrition and non-communicable diseases. Migration to urban areas, changing dietary habits and decreasing levels of physical activity have triggered a ‘nutritional transition’ which has increased the number of overweight people in developing countries while also allowing malnutrition to persist. Yet most of these countries’ health systems continue to focus on the priorities of the previous decade, such as maternal and child health, as well as communicable diseases. This panel asked how best the developing countries of the Indo-Pacific region can meet these new health challenges.

The speakers of the panel were Katherine McManus, Director, Department of Nutrition, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital; Bhavani Ramanathapuram Vaidyanathan, Director, Agriculture Nutrition Health Programme; M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation; Ujwala Salvi, Founder and CEO, Nucleon Therapeutics LLP and Barnali Chakraborty, Assistant Scientist, BRAC JPG School of Public Health.  The panel was moderated by Mike Briers AO, CEO, Food Agility CRC.

Keynote Address: “Towards Development and Growth”

Mr Hossain Toufique Imam, Advisor to the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh on Political Affairs

In his speech, Mr. Imam linked the concept of development and growth with the mitigation of the repression of ordinary people. Referred to the eminent speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered on March 7, 1971, he stated that independence was achieved but the achievement of freedom needs to be addressed in an inclusive manner – combining the freedom from hunger, freedom from lack of health, and thus, creating a holistic vision. In this regard, he mentioned how the Government of Bangladesh is working together with different think tanks to start broader research on these aspects to alleviate the problems. He also exemplified the legacy of the comprehensive growth plan which the GOB had been obtaining since its independence. Here, he gave example of the first five years' plan which was sketched by the nation's supreme leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He also emphasized on the importance of technological innovation, technology-based modernization and education. Reiterating the importance of food security and he highlighted the achievements of the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had who had accomplished self-reliance on food, ample power supply, female empowerment, medical health as well as social safety. In the last portion of his keynote speech, Mr. Imam focused on different instances and government-oriented programs which helped the country to continue with the trajectory towards development and growth.

Panel: "iRegulate: Towards a Digital Community for the Bay of Bengal"

The plenary session titled as “iRegulate: Towards a Digital Community for the Bay of Bengal” was moderated by Mr. Samir Saran, President, Observer Research Foundation. The distinguished panelists were Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP, Honourable Minister of State for ICT Division, and Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Ms. Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director, Facebook - India, South and Central Asia; Mr. Damian Mapa, Asia Advisory Board Member, International Association of Privacy Professionals and Mr. Amandeep S. Gill, Project Lead, International Digital Health & AI Research Collaborative. On the question of how digital Bangladesh is balancing three competing imperatives -peace and security, rights and privacy for the individuals, Mr. Zunaid Ahmed Palak mentioned the tech-journey of Bangladesh. Starting from five million internet users 10 years back, digital Bangladesh now holds about 100 million internet users and 160 million mobile SIM subscribers with one-billion-dollar export in the ICT sector. On the question of whether global practices respond to local contexts, Ms. Ankhi Das focused on the issues dealing with radicalization in the society and the global norms and practices that the US tech industries are taking. She mentioned about Facebook’s three E’s policy- Essentially Enforcement, Education and Essentially figuring out ways for smart regulation. Talking about the positive sides of predictive technology as the threshold of changing the quality of life and the future connectivity, Mr. Amandeep S. Gill defined AI as the democratization of expert’s system and artisanal as well, whose challenge is the division and exclusion issue along with content and security. On the question of the trilemma of economic growth, national security and individual privacy, Mr. Damian Mapa explained how privacy has become the proxy for trust. The lively discussion whirled around the transformative areas as well as the vulnerabilities of digital community.

Panel: "Norms for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Maritime Commons for All"

The session was moderated by Alex Pykett, Head of Foreign and Security Policy Team, Political Department, British High Commission, India. Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Md Khurshed Alam, Secretary (MAU), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh; Dr Hideaki Shinoda, Professor, Graduate School of International Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies; Veerle Nouwens, Research Fellow, International Security Studies Department, Royal United Services Institute and Sunjoy Joshi, Chairman, Observer Research Foundation spoke at the session.

Md. Khurshed Alam said that the Indo-Pacific Strategy supports a free and open Indo-Pacific in which sovereign and independent nations like Bangladesh can prosper in freedom and peace. Nevertheless, there are some issues related to governance and security. However, Bangladesh in its way towards a developing country would like to reap the benefits of the Indo-Pacific concept which will allow the country to achieve its much-desired economic development. Hideaki Shinoda said that the list of places erupting in conflict seems to grow. Therefore, he emphasized on peacebuilding and conflict resolution as part of the long vision of free and open Indo-Pacific. Veerle Nouwens said that some of the existing norms of UNCLOS, e.g., requiring prior notification or prior authorization for entry into the passage of specific type of ships or cargo in innocent passage are disputed by countries. The impact of climate change is another issue which is not addressed in UNCLOS. Citing the example of Bangladesh-India maritime delimitation case, Sunjoy Joshi, said that the dispute was resolved under the international arbitration which was agreed by both sides. He commented that disputes will be present but the way to resolve them is through international rules.

Speed Talk Prof Shams Rahman on Connecting the Asia-Pacific: Sustainable Supply Chains

Professor Shams Rahman highlighted that in today’s world, many products can be termed as global products. He gave the example of RMG products of Bangladesh which use materials coming from a number of countries including Japan, Australia, Germany, China, Hong Kong and so on. He said that although such a global chain of production is economic, it has its carbon footprint and human costs too. He talked about social sustainability which demands to look beyond economic and environmental sustainability. He shared some findings of his own research conducted in Australia and Bangladesh where he found a mismatch between the expectation of Australian buyers and Bangladeshi producers.  Buyers emphasized on socially responsible supply chain issues like child labour, environment, health and safety standard while suppliers are concerned about issues like quality, lead time and price. He stressed that buyers and retailers cannot maintain sustainability if their suppliers are not. Therefore, working together is a must to achieve sustainability. He then referred to the theory of Robert Solow who suggested that human beings can address the problem of exhaustion through innovations like 3D printing. He stressed that businesses must turn the supply chain into a value chain which considers economic, environmental and social values. He finished by saying that if Europeans, who fought among themselves for centuries, can connect themselves, countries in Indo-Pacific can also do that which will ensure sustainability and prosperity for these countries. 

Day 2# 12 November 2019

Panel: "Connecting the Indo-Pacific: Infrastructure and Influence".

The speakers of the panel were Mr Md Shahriar Alam, MP, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh; Manish Tewari, Member of Parliament, India; Minwang Lin, Professor, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University and Riva Ganguly Das, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh. The panel was moderated by Mohamed El Dashan, Managing Director – OXCON Frontier Markets & Fragile States Consulting.

Panellists of the session highlighted the importance of Dhaka in the geopolitical map and how Dhaka is now the new centre due to unparallel growth and development of Bangladesh across all sectors. The session included representation from both China and India, provided an opportunity for open discussion on the issues relating to Indo-Pacific and BRI and their mutual interaction. Riva Ganguly Das, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, talked about what the Indo-Pacific region meant for India. She mentioned how the Indo-Pacific region was gaining importance due to the population, economic growth of the countries involved and also due to the fact that the most important sea lanes go through this region. India wants free and rule-based society in region and is willing to cooperate with other existing organizations such as ASEAN. Mr Md Shahriar Alam, MP, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh highlighted that Bangladesh believes the BRI and the Indo-Pacific initiative to be complementary to one and other and not conflicting. He said that the Indo-Pacific concept is still evolving and there is a lot of potentials that need to be harnessed. He mentioned that the countries who are becoming involved in the initiatives that are being floated by different countries also need to consider their own national interest as well. Mr Manish Tewari, Member of Parliament, India said that the countries need to shed away the narrow prototypes of nationalism and embrace connectivity without focusing on the baggage of history. Minwang Lin, Professor, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University asked why it was important for the other countries to formulate a new concept such as Indo-pacific. He also summarized some of questions the Chinese intellectuals have regarding Indo-Pacific. It was highlighted by the panelists that there are going to be more than one concept or constructs to lead forward the Asian century. Moreover, all of the concepts can coexist with one another and the countries of the region should explore all initiatives that promote connectivity.

Panel: The Coast and Communities: A New Framework for Prosperity and Resilience 

The session titled “The Coast and Communities: A New Framework for Prosperity and Resilience” was moderated by Oliver Keetch, Head, Strategy, Corporate and Global Partnerships, the UK's Department for International Development India. In this session the panelists were JM Mauskar, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation; Dr Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Independent University, Bangladesh; Shouraseni Sen Roy, Professor, University of Miami and Natalie Toms, Economic Counsellor, British High Commission to India. They highlight on the adverse impacts of climate migrant, sea level rise, rise of ocean temperature, the issues of climate change which the countries of Indo-Pacific region are facing. However, lots of action like a well-developed early warning system, information sharing has already been undertaken by countries to address the impacts of climate change in the region.

Panel: “Destination Blue: Unlocking the Potential of the Oceans"

The speakers of the panel were His Excellency Mr Robert Chatterton Dickson, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh; Major General AKM Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS); Dr SM Daud Hassan, Director, International Centre for Ocean Governance, Western Sydney University and Mr Ryosuke Hanada, Research Fellow, Japan Institute of International Affairs as the panelists while Ms Malshini Senaratne, Lecturer, University of Seychelles moderated the session. On the question of balancing the needs between sustainability and prosperity at a time when the Indo-Pacific countries are incubating new structures and norms, Mr. Robert Chatterton Dickson focused on global, regional and non-regional norms and structures to tackle enormous blue economy threats and challenges. Dr Hassan talked about the importance of oceans and the ways to achieve sustainable blue economy at a regional and global level while answering how the regional partners can leverage the capabilities of the blue economy bearing in mind its emerging nature. Mr Ryosuke Hanada contextualized the Three Principles on the Rule of Law at Sea advocated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Shangri-La Dialogue in May 2014. i.e., states shall make and clarify their claims based on international law; states shall not use force in trying to assert its claims and states shall seek to settle disputes by peaceful means. Major General AKM Abdur Rahman focused on the depth of norms in which small states need international platform to propose their options. He opined that the larger powers must accommodate some kind of responsibility even at the cost losing a little, in order to gain a long-standing solution of the maritime problems.

Keynote Address: “Honing Legislative Innovation: Parliamentary Diplomacy for the Future”

Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Speaker, Bangladesh National Parliament

Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Speaker, Bangladesh National Parliament began with speaking about the traditional role of Parliament as an organ of the state which includes ensuring the accountability and transparency of the government. She added that the traditional functions have given way to newer dimensions, known as the Parliamentary diplomacy and International Parliamentarianism. She spoke of the way this new dimension is gaining momentum globally, like other concepts in economy, finance, technology and development. She talked about the new crises that creates challenges globally. Mentioning the refugee crises, climate change, etc., which transcend boundaries, and she said hence, democracy must face these issues as a nationally and globally. She noted climate change as an instance here, and despite not being equally responsible for it, will affect all equally, and needs to be faced globally. She said parliamentarians are the representative of the people, and must deal with these issues by “evolving” with the new order as well as serve and fulfill the need of the people.

She spoke of the scope and successful functions of parliamentary diplomacy in resolving issues between states, and IPU, CPA, PUIC. She talked about the proliferation of international organization, rise in regional integration, globalization, democratization and trans-governmentalism, which makes parliaments engage in this diplomacy. She spoke of the importance of creating a floor for innovation and shared sets of examples that further explained her support towards parliamentary diplomacy. Innovative legislation was a significant concept she brought to light in her speech. Exemplifying the Paris Agreement, the legislature that made UNFCC and other states make commitments towards preventing climate change, she also spoke of multilateral law-making process and its importance.  Mentioning the Paris Agreement again, she cited Robert Cohen talking about Defused Reciprocity, that makes all parties and parliaments whoever was involved in the process, come together and protect the common interest.

She suggested that the multilateral law-making process can be innovative. She ended her address by saying that parliamentary diplomacy can be seen as a new tool in the international law and order to address issues of common interest in an innovative way.    

Parallel Session: "Time to Regulate: How can we respond to Tech Misogyny?"

This panel revealed that the threat of automated patriarchy is putting into question the techno-optimism of recent decades. It is clear that offline gender disparities are replicated and often magnified online. The opportunity of technology as an equalizer is yet to be realized. There are significant gender gaps in access to and use of technology; economic participation in technology-related industries; and, in the very data that is encoding patriarchal norms into our future. This panel considered ways in which the online world could be rendered more equal and rights-based as well as how best it could be protected from offline structural misogyny.

The speakers of the panel were Marina Paula Benítez Demtschenko, Founder and CEO, Digital Feminist Activism Foundation; Gabriele Costa B. Garcia, Co-Founder, Instituto Think Twice Brasil; Maliha Quadir, Managing Director, Shohoz and Sheetal Ranganathan, Vice President and Global Head of Life Sciences and Healthcare Operations, Evalueserve. The panel was moderated by Regina Sipos, Founder and Director, Social-Digital Innovation Initiative.

Parallel Session "Digi Health: Universal Healthcare and Technology".

Accessible healthcare with a quality threshold is essential for the development of human capital that will ultimately propel the Indo-Pacific forward. Hence national development targets cannot be attained without equitable access to health services. This is a crucial global and regional goal as well as capital investment in the future. WHO has set a target of providing a billion additional people with quality healthcare by 2023 and Universal Health Coverage by 2030. The successful realization of this target is linked to the adoption and extensive use of technology. This panel deliberated upon the use of digital tools to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

The speakers of the panel were Alex Emms, Head, Blockchain Ever Medical Technologies; Amandeep S. Gill, Project Lead, International Digital Health & AI Research Collaborative; Asif Saleh, Executive Director, BRAC and Kieran Yi Moon, Founder, Klenic. The panel was moderated by Tatiana Turculet, Compliance Officer, European Investment Bank Group.

Panel: "Renewable Energy in the Indo-Pacific".

The future of growth and development in the Indo-Pacific is dependent on the availability of safe, secure and affordable energy. The creation of sufficient renewable energy generation capacity is a crucial step towards achieving this goal. While certain countries, such as India and China, have made significant strides in this direction, full potential of renewable energy in the Indo-Pacific has not been realized. This panel discussed the existing barriers to renewable energy and how regional cooperation could increase the uptake of projects. The speakers of the panel were Nasrul Hamid, MP, State Minister, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Bangladesh; Saiful Huque, Director at Institute of Energy, Dhaka University; Rathin Roy, Director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and Maliha Muzzamil, Researcher, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University. The panel was moderated by Sunjoy Joshi, Chairman, Observer Research Foundation.

Panel: "On&Offline: Countering Violent Extremism and Hate Crimes".

The digital transformation has revolutionized how people connect with each other. In the process, however, it has provided unprecedented ways for extremist communities to take form, shape and spread. Social media platforms are being routinely used to spread hate and instigate violence. In response to this emergent threat, governments have at times adopted heavy-handed methods: blocking access to the internet, localizing data or seeking changes to the technical architecture of social media platforms. This panel explored whether governments can fulfil their responsibility of countering violent extremism on the net without compromising democracy’s commitment to free speech and freedom of association.

The speakers of the panel were Zafar Sobhan, Editor, Dhaka Tribune; Madan Mohan Oberoi, Executive Director, INTERPOL; Mariam Wardak, Founder, Her Afghanistan and Shyamsunder Tekwani, Professor, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The panel was moderated by Samia Huq, Associate Professor, BRAC University.

Panel: “In Conversation - Digital Money: Borderless Payments, Borderless Innovation".

Emerging financial technologies have the potential to harness the savers of the region and direct investment into the most productive avenues. New payment systems promise to decrease transaction costs and energize trade and services — but they are only as useful as their regulatory underpinnings. The speakers of the panel were Mustafa Jabbar, Minister of Posts and Telecommunication, Bangladesh and Kamal Quadir, CEO, bKash. The panel was moderated by Lindsay Nuon, CEO, EmpirEqual.



Panel: "Trust in Tech: Preventing Misuse of the Digital Ecosystem"

Ms. Rachel Rizzo, Adjunct Fellow, Center for a New American Security moderated the panel titled “Trust in Tech: Preventing Misuse of the Digital Ecosystem” with the panelists Mr. Gulshan Rai, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation and Chief Information Security Officer at the Prime Minister’s Office, Government of India; Ms. Zara Mahboob, Country Director and CEO, Kazi IT; Mr. Benazir Ahmed, BPM (BAR), Director General, RAB Forces and Mr. Dmitri Teperik, Chief Executive, International Centre for Defence and Security. Mr. Gulshan Rai focused on multi-stakeholder efforts and collaborative approaches which need to be adopted to create a framework for norms of behavior in the cyber space and to tackle technology induced vulnerabilities. The stability of the cyber space, protection of critical infrastructure and formation of legal framework needs to be ensured. Addressing the challenge of the huge number of internet users and the fast growth of digital ecosystem, Ms. Zara Mahboob opined that all viable users of social media need basic education and regulation, since everyone is not on the same page. Besides, skill development and awareness building should be through the lens of professionalism, not consumerism. Mr. Dmitri Teperik pointed on building reliant threat perception mechanism in cyber society as virtual battles in cyber domain is now a reality. He focused on actions such as providing tangible skills and moral education for the usage of social media and investing in human capital to produce more digital researchers. Mr. Benazir Ahmed explained the reasons behind losing audience and trust by mainstream media and excessive addiction towards social media of the young generation. He focused on awareness and skill building mechanisms, tough regulatory regimes and strong policy initiatives.

Day 3# 13 November 2019

Panel: Public Finance: Transformation of the Bangladesh Economy 

The session titled “Public Finance: Transformation of the Bangladesh Economy” was moderated by Rathin Roy, Director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. In this session the panelists were Md. Azizul Alam, Additional Secretary, Finance Division; Md. Habibur Rahman, Additional Secretary, Finance Division; Dr Mohammed Farashuddin, Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank and Siban Sahana, Research Associate, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies. The session started with discussing the fiscal achievements of Bangladesh. In the last fiscal year, Bangladesh has achieved the highest growth rate in the Asia-pacific region. These successes of Bangladesh economy are backed by micro-economic stability, structural transformation as well as the policies of government like Vision 2021 and two consecutive five-year plans. Consequently, micro-economic stability paves the way for social-economic developments like poverty reduction and women empowerment. They also discussed about the challenges South Asia faces as a whole in terms of fiscal and Monetary policy. On the fiscal front people aspiration for the state to spend on welfare and public goods. National security is going up but the capacity to borrow and take foreign aid is limited. On the monetary front, banks are public led, there is no transmission and they run bureaucratically. However, in Bangladesh public sector reduced their share in banking sector up to 25 per cent and there is no transmission. Thus, there is a lot to learn from Bangladesh

Speed Talk: “Public-Private Funding Policies for Sustainable Growth”

Md. Ashadul Islam, Senior Secretary, Banking and Financial Institutions Division, Government of Bangladesh

Mr. Islam began his discussion by talking about collaboration and cooperation between and among different sectors of economic development and how it advocates the resource integration of public and private sectors, especially in financial sectors. He talked about how financial services cover a host of transactions and mentioned the importance of a developed financial system in creating employment opportunities, ensuring economic and financial stability through reducing vulnerability and contributing to poverty reduction. He said that access to a well-functioning financial system can economically and socially empower individuals, in particular, the poor people, integrating them into the economy and actively contribute to development.  Another main aspect of his discussion was “Financial Inclusion” in a country like Bangladesh, which is pioneering here with its recent strides towards a digital Bangladesh. He spoke of its importance in poverty eradication. Another important topic he brought up was micro-finance and its remarkable role in reaching poor people and how Bangladesh is pioneering in this sector. However, this sector has been facing a funding crunch. In the venture capital of the coming years, the alternative investment will be one of the impactful instruments for sustainable development and there is a need in appearance for developing a national strategy for public-private funding moving towards our longer-term vision Delta 2100.

Panel: "In conversation: Culture and Commerce in the Clothing Industry".

The Bangladeshi garment industry is a major driving force of the country’s economic growth of the country and overall progress. The textile-apparel sector generates employment to more than 20 million people annually and contributes 20 per cent of the GDP. Its unprecedented growth over the past decade is complemented by rich history of artisanship of the country. The panel discussed and deliberated on leveraging cultural heritage for profitable entrepreneurship. The speakers of the panel were Bibi Russell, Fashion Designer and Former International Model; Sarah Karim, Designer and Shwapna Bhowmick, Country Manager, Marks and Spencer, Bangladesh. The panel was moderated by Asif Ibrahim, Director, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and MD, New Age Group.

Panel: She Leads: Women Leadership in Policy and Politics

The session was moderated by Vrinda Kapoor, COO, 3rdiTech. The Panelists of the session were Farah Kabir, Country Director, Action Aid Bangladesh; Adelle Nazrain, Journalist and Champa Patel, Head of Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs). The main focus of the session is based on the various perspectives of women leadership whereas traditionally it has been seen as man’s world. Politics and policies are new arena for the development of women in the Indo-pacific region. Women are negatively affecting from the power dynamics and autocracy. Still women are excluded from the diversified leadership process.  The reason behind the exclusion is neither patriarchy nor matriarchy but not recognizing the value of feminism and feminist values for justice.

Adding to that, media also represents women as subordinate whereas men as decision maker behind the scene. Media depiction undermines contribution of women to society although they are powerful and intrinsic from historical perspectives.  Men controls the narratives about women and how they would like to see women in media. Therefore, men are on the authoritative position to narrate women in media.  At the same time, there are lot of opportunities for women because culture is changing over the years. Culture is very important as it ultimately reflects through policies and legislation. Women have the value adding capacity both at home and workplaces that must be recognized with proper acknowledgement. Referring to the anthropological studies, matriarchal societies are more flat way of power distribution and options for collaboration. On the other hand, the value addition of the women has been systematically excluded due to gender inequality.

Women are the worst victim of any types of exclusion such as racism and capitalism. The Constitution of Bangladesh, like many other countries of the world, announces both men and women are equal. However, the society does not practice equality in practically. Quality practice and lack of implementation of the law restrict women at the personal level to achieve their goals. At the same time, women are not organized for their political rights and women leaders also follow male dominated political structures for the greater benefit.

Culture eats strategy in the breakfast. Culture intrudes in so many ways through patriarchy. Women are treated as the guardian of everything under the close supervision of patriarchy such as religion, culture, values and morality. While the position of women in the society and family is vulnerable, patriarchy puts pressure on upbringing the children in a gender sensitive way.  Feminism in Europe may not fit into the other parts of the world but can be extracted the beauty embedded into it.  Affirmative actions should be taken to enhance the confidence among young girls and adolescent that they have the power to reproduce.

Gender mainstreaming would be more effective if the right based affirmative actions are set. Policies should be designed in a way so that women would get more opportunities to uplift their capacities regardless of gender and race.  Therefore, policies, programmes and legislation are necessary in form of affirmative actions.  In that context, more women in leadership position would bring positive changes in the power proposition regardless of their background. Panelists ended up the dialogue with a belief that women would soar up in the development process with their male counter-part and ensure justice for all.

In Conversation: Convergence of Regional initiatives for Optimizing Common Benefits (Concluding Panel)

The last session of the Dialogue was also the Concluding Session. It was titled “In Conversation: Convergence of Regional initiatives for Optimizing Common Benefits”. Mr Nahim Razzaq, MP, Member, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh moderated the session. In this session the panelists were Dr AK Abdul Momen, MP, Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh; Mr Md Shahriar Alam, MP, State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh and Sunjoy Joshi, Chairman, Observer Research Foundation.

Dr AK Abdul Momen, MP, Honourable Foreign Minister, Government of Bangladesh, started with mentioning three important issues, e.g., the formation and existence of the several parallel sub- regional initiatives, the convergence of the objectives of these initiatives so that they may avoid duplication and also gain from the concerted efforts and these initiatives emphasize on Indo-pacific region. He discussed about these regional initiatives based on social, economic and development issues. Reflecting on the different coalitions of WTO, he stated that profound changes have taken place all over the world in terms of official regional initiatives. Referring Indo-pacific as a vibrant, fastest growing and dynamic region of the world, he also emphasized on the massive infrastructure needs, innovative use of the socio-economic landscape of the region and resources to achieve sustained economic growth. As the focus of growth gradually shifting to Asia-pacific region, thus the countries are engaging in cooperative initiatives within a number of other regional grouping and processes. Bangladesh is open to any regional and global initiatives and has been pursuing regional integration for economic cooperation with the countries of the South.

Mr Md Shahriar Alam, MP, Honourable State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh added that the discussion of this dialogue has given some sort of clarity and understanding on Indo-pacific. Different regional arrangement in this region is good until their objectives are loud, clear, pure and centred around SDGs. For regional cooperation in this region, developed countries need to support the developing countries and all the countries need to continue pursuing the rules-based order and follow the commitment that they made in recent past in the different forum.

Sunjoy Joshi, Chairman, Observer Research Foundation added that for digital connectivity, the countries of Indo-pacific need to be adjusted with digital technology as entering into these new spaces open up a new world. Moreover, the region needs to create own knowledge system and network which will help to find local solutions to local problems.

Mr Nahim Razzaq, MP, Member, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged the hard work of BIISS and ORF. He added that the dialogue had over 1,200 participants, 21 panelists and 15 live casts sessions. In different sessions of the dialogue different important issues like climate change, sustainable development, trade and commerce were discussed. He suggested that beyond global consensus and multilateral approach towards developing nations, Indo-Pacific can do much more.


Live Panels

Beside the events in the house, there were a number of live panels in the Dialogue. These were telecasted through Facebook live and twitter handle.  

Marshalling South Asia: Integrating the Sub-continent
• Maj. Gen. AKM Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, Bangladesh Institute of    International and Strategic Studies
• Pavel Luzin, Expert/Columnist, The Riddle
• Kanchan Gupta, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/376600706412648/




Preordained or Premature? Debating the Asian Century
• Kim Mai Tran, Research Associate, CSIS
• Tinh Le Dinh, Acting Director General, Institute for Foreign Policy and
Strategic Studies, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam
• Daria Gribkova, Expert, Foresight Centre of HSE Institute for
Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge
• Sonu Trivedi, Director - Indian Cultural Centre, Embassy of India,
Seoul, Republic of Korea (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/639417459926106/



Next Gen Economy – Step On The Train?
• Neha Kumar, India Programme Manager, Climate Bonds Initiative
• Harald Friedl, CEO, Circle Economy

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/420718165488381/






Humane Metropolis: Towards People-Centric Urbanisation
• Lin Jia, Architect, Gensler
• Iqbal Habib, Principal Architect, VITTI Sthapati Brindo
• Ka Ming Andre Kwok, Founder, Future City Summit (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/962183870804112/





Deep Learning: Education and Enterprise in the 4IR
• Nasim Manzur, Managing Director, Apex Footwear
• Sakar Pudasaini, Founder, Karkhana
• Harald Friedl, CEO, Circle Economy
•Saif Kamal, Founder, Toru Institute of Inclusive Innovation (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/417048959179503/





Technology and Development: Innovating for the Next 5 Billion
• Mike Briers AO, CEO, Food Agility CRC
• Syed Farhad Ahmed, Managing Director, AAMRA Technologies
• Krzysztof Marcin Zalewski, Chair of the Board, Boym Institute and Editorin-Chief, “Tydzien w Azji” (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/721820911664778/





Millennial Nation: How the Young will Reshape Politics
• Shameem Haider Patwary, MP, Vice Chairman, Dhaka International University
• Divya Maderna, Member of Legislative Assembly – Rajasthan, Indian National Congress
• Shah Ali Farhad, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, PMO, Bangladesh (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/549030032566352/




 Destination SDG: New Frameworks for Sustainable Tourism
• Shahid Hussain Shamim, CEO, Ajiyer Fair Trade Tourism
• Korvi Rakshand, Founder and Executive Director, Jaago Foundation
• Sumala Chowdhury, Director, Tiger Tours Ltd. (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/578825312862724/





Financing for Development: Partnerships for Growth
• Ashok Kumar, Deputy General Manager, Export-Import Bank of India
• Nihad Kabir, President, MCCI
• Ksenia Kirilova, Knowledge Management Analyst, UNDP
• Mignone Berge, Consultant, International Trade, Development & Environment Consultancy (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/520010695216453/




Ecofeminism: Engendering Green Transitions
• Eshrat Waris, Business Designer, SOLShare
• Neha Kumar, India Programme Manager, Climate Bonds Initiative
• Beatrice Mosello, Senior Project Manager, Adelphi (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/1455646374592349/





Local Narratives, Global Appeal: Cultural Rejuvenation in the Age of Netflix
• Laura Yerekesheva, Deputy Director – International Affairs, Institute of
Oriental Studies, Almaty, Kazakhstan
• Kazi Anis Ahmed, Columnist and Media Publisher and Director, Dhaka
Lit Fest
• Kanchan Gupta, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation (Moderator)

Link: https://www.facebook.com/ORFOnline/videos/428541954497470/




Disrupting Pharma: Medicines for All
• Sheetal Ranganathan, Vice President and Global Head, Life Sciences
and Healthcare Operations, Evalueserve
• Winnie Munene, Head, Integrated Healthcare Services, Merck KGaA
• Md. Habibe Millat, MP, Chairman, Advisory Group on Health,<