Beginning the mid-1980s, most countries, across all regions of the world, started to rapidly embark on the path of globalization and liberalization. The global wave of globalization and liberalization also created a compelling situation for South Asian countries to follow suit. This led South Asian governments and stakeholders alike to design strategies and implement measures that enhance their capacities to benefit from regional and global integration, and respond to the adverse implications of globalization for their economies.
In order to complement the efforts of South Asian governments and stakeholders, and to bring to the fore the views and concerns of the marginalized and poor segments of society, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) was launched in 1994 as a loose regional network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from five South Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Taking into consideration the emerging need for fair, effective and meaningful integration of South Asian countries into the regional as well as global economies, the major motto of this regional initiative has been “GLOBALIZATION YES, BUT WITH SAFETY NETS”.
From 1994 to 1997, its secretariat was housed in Kolkata, India at the office of Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), a founding member institution of the network. With the emergence of consensus among network members, in 1997, SAWTEE's secretariat was moved to Kathmandu, Nepal. Since then, SAWTEE has strengthened its activities ranging from sensitization and awareness raising to independent and concrete policy research, capacity building and advocacy on trade, economic and environmental issues at local, national, regional and international levels.
SAWTEE was registered with the District Administration Office, Kathmandu, Nepal to operate as a regional non-profit, NGO in 1999. Due to its research capacity, policy outreach and developmental impacts, the organization has been growingly recognized as a think tank at local, national, regional and global levels. SAWTEE is also recognized in the capacity of a secretariat of a national network of Nepal-based national and international NGOs called National Alliance for Food Security in Nepal (NAFOS); a global network of civil society organizations (CSOs) working on biodiversity management and farmers' rights issues called Farmers' Rights Advocacy Network (FRANK); and a global network of least-developed countries (LDCs) established for the economic transformation of LDCs, called Least Developed Countries Network for Economic Transformation (LDC-NET). Its members and staff have served/been serving on the board of various international and national agencies working on trade, development, farmers’ rights and food security issues.
Ensuring fair, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable growth and development in South Asia.
Enabling stakeholders, particularly the poor and marginalized, to derive net benefits from changing political economy and environmental landscapes.
To equip stakeholders with knowledge, information and skills to represent their interests and assert their rights to development.
To contribute to fair, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable growth and development for a society directed towards poverty reduction, food security and environmental sustainability.
To contribute to informed and participatory policy-making and implementation for fair, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable growth and development.
To contribute to enhancing meaningful participation of South Asian countries, particularly the least-developed and landlocked, in and their integration into the sub-regional, regional and multilateral trade, economic and environmental systems.
To contribute to strengthening regional cooperation in South Asia.
SAWTEE has been sustaining itself through membership fees and contributions, sales proceeds of its publications and support from development partners. SAWTEE has received support from, among others, the following development partners:
- ActionAid, Kathmandu and Bangkok
- The Asia Foundation, Kathmandu
- CARITAS, Kathmandu
- Development Fund, Oslo
- Department for International Development, Kathmandu
- Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, New Delhi and Kathmandu
- Ford Foundation, New Delhi
- International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu
- International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa
- MS Nepal, Kathmandu
- Oxfam Novib, The Hague
- United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Geneva
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Kathmandu, Regional Centre in Colombo and Regional Centre in Bangkok
- United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Regional Office, New Delhi
- USC Canada, Kathmandu
- Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), Chennai
- Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), Jaipur
- Development Research and Action Group (DRAG), New Delhi
- Society for Legal and Environmental Analysis and Development Research (LEADERS), Kathmandu
- Forum for Protection of Public Interest (Pro Public), Kathmandu
- Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights (JDHR), Islamabad
- Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad