Colombo SAARC summit to focus on food, energy, climate change, trade

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Dhaka, Jul 25 (UNI) The 15th SAARC summit to be held in Colombo next week will focus on four core issues of food and energy security, climate change, and trade.

A senior Foreign Ministry official here said the South Asian leaders, who meet in the Sri Lankan capital on August 2-3, would discuss how to make the dormant regional food bank operational as some member-states have not yet ratified it.

It was earlier decided that a SAARC food bank would be set up with an initial reserve of 2,41,000 metric tonnes of food grains to meet exigencies in any of the member-countries.

The official said the summit leaders would also concentrate on how to meet the growing demand for energy for sustainable development growth in the region. The leaders might look for different options like hydropower, biofuels and solar energy as alternative sources of energy.

Nowadays, the entire world is on the lookout for such alternatives amid a crunch in the fields of traditional energy, mainly hydrocarbons, as well as global warming due to greenhouse effect.

The Colombo summit would seriously address the adverse impact of the changing climate as most SAARC countries would be worst-affected by climate change -- a phenomenon that brings floods and droughts and causes sea-levels to rise.

Besides, the nature's erratic behavior posed threat to both development and poverty-alleviation efforts in the region's countries.

The leaders would finalise the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) charter at the Colombo meet. The SDF would have three windows -- Social, Economic and Infrastructure.

If the SDF charter is finalised, it could mobilise funds to finance various projects. The SDF has now a fund of seven million dollars.

As per its agenda, the 15th summit would also consider Australia and Myanmar as Observers of the SAARC. Presently, China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Mauritius, the US and the European Union have got the Observer status.

The summit would be preceded by a series of meetings starting from July 27 to do the spadework.

The SAARC Programming Committee, comprising senior officials of the member-states, would meet on July 27-28, the Standing Committee representing Foreign Secretaries on July 29-30 and the Council of Ministers representing the Foreign Ministers would sit from July 31 to August 1.

Bangladesh caretaker government's Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed would lead the country to the summit. He is likely to leave for Colombo on July 31.

UNI XC SKB HT1930

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