“A Social Democratic Asia: Strengthening Inclusive Policy Formulation” a regional partnership project between SocDem Asia and the Danish Social Democratic Party (SDP) was formally launched in Kathmandu, Nepal on the 28th of August 2016.
The project, supported through the Danish Institute of Parties and Democracy (DIPD), intends to develop national programme papers in pilot countries to concretize SocDem Asia’s regional policy proposals developed in its thematic conferences for the past 7 years. In the process, the project aims to contribute to further strengthening the practice of internal democracy in partner parties, consultations with stakeholders, and people’s participation in policy making and development.
The project will be implemented in Myanmar/Burma, Nepal, and the Philippines in partnership with member parties the Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS) and the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) in Myanmar/Burma, the Nepali Congress (NC), and Akbayan in the Philippines. In succeeding months, country teams will convene round-table discussions, seminars, and conferences to identify key issues, set the priority agenda, discuss policy proposals and programs, and put together a comprehensive policy paper to be presented and eventually adopted by the respective partner parties. Different key stakeholders will sit together, discuss and debate, and come up with consolidated policy proposals on a specific issue identified by the stakeholders in each country.
Hosted by the Nepali Congress, the project launch gathered country project team members from Myanmar/Burma, Nepal, and the Philippines; the project teams from SocDem Asia and the SDP; and a representative from the DIPD. The event was key noted by Nepal Deputy Prime Minister Bimlendra Nidhi, who is also currently serving as Minister of Home Affairs. In his speech, DPM Nidhi highlighted what for him should be the key trust of social democrats and democratic socialists - putting both the heart and mind in addressing key social issues. He also shared the current critical juncture and challenges for Nepal and the Nepali Congress as the country gears up to realize its newly adopted constitution, and the Party once again takes helm of government after 8 months. The launching was also participated by key party leaders of Nepali Congress headed by Party General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who has also served as Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior Affairs and Minister of Supplies. Mr. Dev Raj Dahal the Country Representative of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung – Nepal welcomed the participants and introduced the keynote speaker.
Together with the launching of the project was the Regional Project Team Orientation and Planning from 28th-31st of August. It was an opportunity for the project teams from different countries to get to know each other, introduce their political organizations and the work they are currently doing in their respective countries, and share experiences and lessons. The country teams then rolled up their sleeves to iron out details of the project implementation in the pilot countries.
Similarly, representatives from SDP Ms. Mette Muller Kristensen and Ms. Marie Borum shared the history of their party and their experience in inclusive policy formulation. SocDem Asia Coordinator Marie Chris Cabreros led the discussion on the Network’s Political Program and the key Regional Policy Papers that have been adopted by SocDem Asia.
Capping off the meeting in Kathmandu was a seminar on peace process. Since the 3 pilot countries have common concerns on peace process, SocDem Asia organized a seminar on Nepal’s peace process in partnership with the Nepali Congress. Dr. Dinesh Bhattarai, who served as Nepal’s Permanent Representative to the UN, lead the discussions. Participants shared challenges and insights in their countries respective journey to peace.