RCSS organized a roundtable for Ms. Nicole Zdrowjewski of the Regional Voices Project of the Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, D.C., USA to interact with a group of experts and civil society members in Colombo. The discussion was aimed at gaining insights into a Sri Lankan perspective on transnational challenges facing the South Asian region and their global implications. The roundtable was a follow up to an initial meeting held in Bangkok earlier in the year in preparation for the Stimson Center project “Regional Voices: Transnational Challenges”.

“Regional Voices: Transnational Challenges is a project devoted to enhancing the information and analysis available to US policymakers about emerging transnational security challenges. The project develops knowledge and analysis of the perspectives of technical and subject experts, and political and strategic analysts.

The geographical range of the project’s work is the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Africa. The knowledge and analysis is developed by means of dialogue among experts from various disciplines and occupational backgrounds. The project’s work includes the organizing of workshops in the regions,entering into research partnerships with regional institutions and individuals, carrying out interviews in the field, and research into the state of knowledge and thinking. It seeks the input of experts and practitioners who constitute new voices in the conversation with the US government. It does not shy away from perspectives which dissent from conventional wisdom, as long as they represent significant bodies of opinions in the countries of the regions.

It is important to the analysis to identify underlying trends: specifically to ask what trends can be identified as well-established, and what development experts expect in the coming two decades. The project emphasizes the relationships among social, economic, environmental, technological and political trends, and between these trends and traditional security concerns. Sources and consequences of instability, crisis or conflict are of particular concern, as are the consequences of rapid change. It is equally interested in threats and opportunities presented by the trends identified; and we particularly attend to evolving structures of governance, ideological or other social responses, as well as opportunities for transnational cooperation.

Regional Voices understands transnational challenges as threats or challenges which transcend national borders, and those which are national in scope but recur in many societies in a region. These include pandemics, deforestation, climate change, migration, fisheries, water shortages and shared use of water tables or river systems”.(www.stimson.org)