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Connecting Eastern South Asia: Toward a Sustainable, Green, and Multimodal Future

June 13, 2024

This event does not require registration. It will be streamed live here on June 13rd 8 am ET and on World Bank South Asia Twitter and Facebook pages, 

Our 19th OneSouthAsia Conversation will explore opportunities and challenges of strengthening multimodal connectivity in Eastern South Asia—what will it take to build sustainable and seamless connectivity in the region?  The conversation will bring together government speakers, private sector, and academics to discuss the increasing focus on multimodal regional transport including inland water transport and improved rail links between countries. It will also discuss regulatory and police frameworks required for optimized multimodal connectivity and experiences of other regions including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The event will be held in partnership with the World Bank South Asia Regional Integration Program and the Center for Economic and Social Progress (CSEP)  that runs the Sambandh Regional Connectivity Initiative.

Background:  South Asia’s intraregional trade is barely 5% of its total trade—compared to 60% in Europe and 25% in ASEAN region. Other than tariff and non-tariff barriers, inadequate transport infrastructure and lack of seamless border connectivity contribute to low levels of integration and high costs of trade.  It is about 15–20% less expensive for a company in India to trade with a company in Brazil or Germany than with a company in Bangladesh. Integrating South Asia has potential of delivering significant economic gains—it could increase annual intraregional trade in goods alone by $44 million.

The World Bank is supporting improved regional connectivity along 11 regional corridors, with a focus on sustainable, environment friendly and gender-inclusive infrastructure. Currently, road transport dominates regional transport, including freight transport. As per the World Bank analysis, among the countries of Eastern South Asia—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal—freight transport distribution is 72% for roads, 9% for inland water transport, 14% for sea, and just 4% for railways. This contrasts with the international benchmark for an ideal modal mix, which suggests a distribution of road transport at 25-30 %, railways at 50-55%, and waterways at 20-25 %.

Multimodal connectivity is not only faster, cheaper, but also has significantly high carbon benefits. For instance, rail transport emits roughly 20 % of the greenhouse gas emissions as compared to trucks and is almost four times more cost effective for long distance haulage. Similarly, a bulk IWT carrier emits 10% of GHG emissions as compared to a truck. 

Format : The webinar will be streamed live this page and on World Bank South Asia twitter and facebook channels. It does not require any registration.  If you have any questions, email them at  


  • WHEN: Thursday, May 23rd, 8 am ET
  • WHERE: Online, livestreamed on this page
  • Email Qs at: