Concept Note

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) is pleased to announce its Twenty-second Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) from 3 – 5 December 2019 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of this year’s Conference is “Sustainable Development in a Digital Society”. 

Overarching Theme of the SDC:

The overarching theme of this year’s SDC is inspired by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and an era of digitalisation which has changed how human beings interact in the era of rapid revolution in technologies. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has been explained in the following words as borrowed from the World Economic Forum’s weblink:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another. It is a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technology advances commensurate with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions. These advances are merging the physical, digital and biological worlds in ways that create both huge promise and potential peril. The speed, breadth and depth of this revolution is forcing us to rethink how countries develop, how organisations create value and even what it means to be human. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about more than just technology-driven change; it is an opportunity to help everyone, including leaders, policy-makers and people from all income groups and nations, to harness converging technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centred future. The real opportunity is to look beyond technology, and find ways to give the greatest number of people the ability to positively impact their families, organisations and communities.[1]

With this premise, SDPI’s Twenty-second SDC is inviting scholars, researchers, policy-makers, game changers, and members of the civil society to bring forth ideas how to cash in on the Fourth Industrial Revolution where artificial intelligence is playing a lead role in our lives. They will deliberate on the pros and cons of the fast-evolving scenario, which has brought about a massive change in social values; requires a different set of skills; and, new ways of understanding and operating on a day-to-day basis. The question arises how to maximise and capture opportunities as the world changes on this fast track?

The letter “e” has become a significant addition to how we do business today: whether it is transferring money through e-paisa; doing business through e-commerce; paying bills via e-banking; taking online courses sitting at home; to accessing services through the various Apps that provide access to a series of products right on the smart screens of our digital gadgets, or the whole concept of new governance model, i.e., e-governance, the opportunities are endless and so are the perils.

Rapid development in smart technologies also means more empowerment to the stakeholders, the clients and users of these technologies who now have a whole new set of rights and demand for safety. The service providers, governments and private sector on the other hand need to step cautiously and ensure their rights as they can be held accountable by the users.

This is an era as much as of digital inclusivity as well as digital exclusivity and isolation, of being content creators as well as its consumers, of challenges to some and opportunities and privileges to others. “Digital inclusion addresses issues of opportunity, access, knowledge, and skill at the level of policy… digital inclusion is meant to signal a focus on a practical, policy-making driven approach that addresses the needs of communities as a whole. In short, digital inclusion is a framework for assessing and considering the readiness of communities to provide access to opportunities in a digital age”[2].

In this smart age, how does one tackle the issues of sustainable development? Poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, water, energy, environment, gender equality, social justice to trade, economy, commerce, investment and technology – the Conference will have dedicated sessions on key issues such as these along with many more overlapping sub-themes under the overarching theme and relevant to Asia and beyond.

Speakers from Asia and other regions will be invited to share their research, best practices, and thoughts, and analyse how barriers are being bridged with new technologies and artificial intelligence, new ways of working and interacting, and where are we headed from here.

SDC Plenary sessions: In the SDC plenary sessions, keynote speeches will be delivered by prominent scholars, policy makers and practitioners under the umbrella of the overarching theme.

Conference Outcomes:

A peer reviewed conference anthology based on papers presented at the occasion will be launched at the succeeding Conference. Keeping up with this tradition, the Twenty-second SDC will showcase launch of the SDC 2018 anthology titled ‘Corridors of Knowledge for Peace and Development, a peer reviewed publication, SDPI’s annual Journal of Development Policy, Research & Practice, Volume 3, along with other publications.

During the Conference, the crux of the policy recommendations is shared at the plenary sessions in which key policy makers are requested to give a keynote address. As done so in the previous SD Conferences, SDPI will compile the policy recommendations from the 30 plus panels and plenary sessions which will be communicated to the respective ministries and at regional level institutions. The compiled recommendations along with detailed reports of the sessions will be published in a special edition of SDPI’s Research and News Bulletin.

The Conference will provide an interactive forum to meet with experts and to find relevant ideas and solutions in an atmosphere of sharing and exploring.

SDC keynote plenary sessions and selected panels will be broadcast live on SDPI’s web-based TV ( for wider dissemination. Notifications on the Conference will be shared on SDPI App.

Twenty-second SDC: Conference Format

There will be three to four keynote plenary sessions in which prominent keynote speakers will be invited to address significant areas as highlighted in the overarching theme. The plenary each day will be followed by concurrent sessions / panels on sub-themes. The plenary will last for one hour and 30 minutes to two hours while the duration of each panel will be two hours with three to five presentations followed by question-and-answer session giving the audience an opportunity to engage in the session’s debate.

Recapping the previous SDC: The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) held its Twenty-first Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) alongside the Eleventh South Asia Economic Summit (SAES XI), from 4 – 7 December 2018 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The overarching theme of the mega event was “Corridors of Knowledge for Peace and Development”. The Twenty-first SDC and Eleventh SAES discussed not only the economic corridor, but also other corridors of connectivity and knowledge and how they could steer us towards peace and development. A total of 261 delegates attended the mega event in 2018 from 20 countries including Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil (via Skype), Brussels, Canada, China, Germany, Kenya, Maldives, France, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines, UK and the USA. While 204 delegates came from within the country, the remaining 57 represented the rest of the countries listed. An audience of over 4,000 attended the four days of Conference.

Dates to Remember:

Inaugural Plenary at the Presidency: 2 December 2019
Twenty-second Sustainable Development Conference: 3 — 5 December 2019

Call for Abstracts:

Under the overarching theme, a number of panels based on sub-themes will be organized. Panel titles along with write-ups will be uploaded at the Conference web link mentioned below. Speakers are requested to submit their abstracts corresponding and suitably associated to the panel sub-theme objectives addressing the questions specifically being addressed in that particular panel. For details of the panels, authors’ guidelines, submission deadlines, etc., please visit our web link

All abstracts will go through a software review for originality and if cleared will be reviewed by an editorial committee. Only those speakers with short-listed abstracts will be informed and will be requested to submit their papers by the deadline, i.e. 1 November 2019. Potential speakers are requested to specify the panel title while submitting an abstract.

List of proposed panels along with their panel write-ups will be made available at Please continue to visit the weblink.

For further details, please contact the Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) Unit:

Ms Uzma T. Haroon

Director SDC Unit

Email address:

Ms Imrana Niazi

Senior Coordinator SDC

Email address:

Ms Tayyaba Hanif

Assistant Coordinator SDC

Email address:

Sustainable Development Conference Unit
Sustainable Development Policy Institute

Taimur Chambers, # 10-D (West),

Fazl-e-Haq Road, Blue Area, Islamabad, Pakistan

Ph: (+92-51) 2278134; 2278136      

Fax: (+92-51) 2278135    




[1] Fourth Industrial Revolution. accessed on 26 March 2019.

[2]  What is Digital Inclusion?. accessed on 26 March 2019.