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BRIEF March 10, 2021

Office of the Chief Economist, South Asia Region

Climate change and air pollution are speeding up the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, jeopardizing the lives and livelihoods of 750 million people who rely on the water from these glaciers and snows. The impacts will only get worse unless greater efforts are made to curb black carbon deposits from factories, fires, and vehicles that are accelerating melting.

World Bank Group

The Office of the Chief Economist in the South Asia Region (SARCE) aims to generate knowledge on policy and institutional reforms in South Asia. It provides guidance on strategic priorities and the most pressing development issues facing the region through rigorous economic analysis in the form of research articles and reports.

This mission is accomplished through analysis that challenges conventional wisdom, takes on new, topical and controversial issues, and provides cross-sectoral and region-wide analysis. SARCE supports the initiative to foster a community of economists interested in South Asia, within the World Bank and on the continent.

SARCE translates its research priorities into the follwoing activities, or research pillars, that produce various forward-looking analysis, foster debates and dialogues, and suggest testable experiments, in addition to its up-to-date continuous economic monitoring and support to Global Practices within the Bank. 

  1. Economic Mobility: This activity looks at jobs, skills, poverty and inequality through a locational lens: agglomeration; urbanization; migration; lagging regions; decisions where to work, where to live, where to invest, etc. It builds on a large body of past work, including the construction of a geospatial data base.
  2. Win-win-win solutions: Vested interests of advanced economies have for too long characterized climate change solutions. A developing-country perspective on climate change starts with the need to grow more, grow clean, and to build resilience. This activity automatically focuses the discussion on conditions for sustainable growth.
  3. The interplay between public and private sector: This activity focusses on answering questions such as how can the need for MfD be balanced with the need to limit contingent liabilities; to what extent is it feasible and desirable to privatize utilities and what is the impact on consumer fees; and analyze how disruptive technologies can be used to increase energy access and change the interplay between public and private sector.


  • South Asia Gender Innovation Lab: Promote evidence-based solutions to improve gender equality across South Asia
  • South Asia Economic Policy Network: Serve as a platform for collaboration with South Asian think tanks, academics, researchers, policy advisors, policy influencers, and development partners with an objective to support an ongoing and more structured dialogue on issues affecting the development prospects of South Asia.
  • SAR Debates: South Asia, home to almost one quarter of the world’s working adults, has become the region with the fastest growth potential in the world economy. However, to unleash its full potential major constraints to continued high growth have to be eliminated. These constraints range from lack of energy security to water scarcity, air pollution, and congested cities. Moreover, elite capture in several countries in the region has resulted in unbalanced growth, with large informal sectors, low trade shares, low tax revenues, and low female labor force participation rates. SAR Debates seeks to make evidence-based contributions to complex policy dilemmas.
  • The Spatial Database for South Asia: Develop a Geographic Information System (GIS) for the South Asia region that will integrate available spatial data from a variety of sources in a single, user-friendly electronic platform. 


South Asia Chief Economist’s Office Publications and Working Papers

The South Asia Chief Economist’s Office seeks to produce high-quality research to inform policy choices and operational work.

Recent Publications and Reports


Last Updated: Jun 07, 2021


  • The New Services Economy: Servicification and Digital Platforms in South Asia


VIDEO Mar 31, 2021

South Asia Vaccinates