Regional Planning Council (RPC) is the main technical planning body within ECO which comprises of Head of Planning organizations of the member states as well as officials and experts from the national sectoral ministries and agencies. The 28th annual meeting of Regional Planning Council was co-chaired by Federal Minister Mr. Ahsan Iqbal and Secretary General ECO Mr. Halil Ibrahim Akca to review the progress of implementation of the ECO approved projects and consideration of proposals for new projects of the year 2018 which includes trade, investments, transport, communications, energy, minerals, environment, agriculture, industry, tourism, economic research statistics, human resource, drugs and organized crime coordination, ECO regional institutions and International relations. The agenda item will be addressed in eight committees. The committee will deliberate and develop the ECO sectoral work programme for the year to come as well as the ECO calendar of events for 2018. In addition, the RPC will draft ECO advocacy policy for Afghanistan.
“Economic and environmental challenges are becoming regional and global” said Mr. Ahsan Iqbal while addressing to the 28th meeting of Regional Planning Council of ECO countries.
He said that world is becoming more integrated and connected, therefore it requires cooperation and not confrontation. The possibility of global partnership is huge in the contemporary world due to advances in technology and communication infrastructure. The need for physical presence is increasingly becoming less important with cyber connectivity. We must take advantage of the forums like ECO to foster regional cooperation for collective prosperity, peace and stability in our region and member states.
Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal further said that we stand at the threshold of fourth Industrial revolution. New technologies are going to completely change the paradigms of human development in economic fields. We have to align ourselves with the emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, bio technology, robotics, automation, big data and cloud computing that are the new emerging faces of the economy. He maintained we have to be proactive to understand how the fourth industrial revolution is going to impact the economy of the emerging countries in the world and how we can embrace the change.
Mr. Ahsan Iqbal said that Asia has become the continent of economic growth. It is estimated that by 2050, Asia will account for more than 50% of the world’s GDP. He said that located at the crossroads of important regions, the ECO region has both the potential and capacity to function as a bridge between North and South, Europe and Asia.
Its favorable geo-economic location can be better utilized for the development and prosperity of the region. Development of transport and communication infrastructure, facilitation of trade & investment & effective use of the region’s vast energy among ECO member states are important sectoral priorities of the ECO for development & growth in the region.
While highlighting the threat of climate change he said it’s impacting each one of us. The greenhouse emissions have increased manifolds bringing major changes in weather and climate of the world presenting us grave challenges to address.
Minister Ahsan Iqbal stressed upon cooperation for ensuring maintenance of peace and stability in the region as peace was never in danger than it is today. We have to collaborate on how we can preserve peace not only in member states but also in the region. Moreover, Pakistan has always played an active role to ensure regional integration and interdependence amongst the member states. We support ECO’s agendas and initiatives and have always encouraged further enhancing the current steady progress. Today we face challenges of extremism and terrorism which is becoming a global menace as crime and terror are forming global networks which require collective action on part of member states.
Minister Ahsan Iqbal highlighted the importance of Vision2025 as a great roadmap for making the ECO forum successful as it will enable to meet the goals that have been set by the member states of the forum. The Asian region is blessed with rich heritage which opens doors for enhancing tourism not only within the region but we can also attract large number of tourists from the global market. In order to make a peaceful and stable world Minister said we need to make sure that no one is left behind. Each citizen of the world should have better access to the opportunities of health, education food, and security in life.
Minister Ahsan Iqbal expressed good wishes for the ECO gathering with prolific discussions and an outcome document which could be remembered as a right step towards a better and more prosperous future of the people and meaningful cooperation.