ISLAMABAD, JUL 19 – ‘The post-COVID19 world would be much different as its overall socio-economic impact is yet to be determined. It is expected that the world would be faced with even greater challenges in the form of rising food insecurity, unemployment, poverty, healthcare needs, etc.
The pandemic has enormously affected the tourism, transport, education and agriculture sectors. The Information Technology is expected to play an increasingly important role in our daily lives in the post-COVID19 period through e-learning, e-health, e-agriculture, artificial intelligence, etc. There are, therefore, more reasons for the world to focus on science, technology and innovation.
This was noted by the international participants of the 23rd Meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS), which was held virtually due to present-day travel restrictions globally. The meeting had participation of 26 high profile scientists and representatives of 19 Centers of Excellence of COMSATS belonging to Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Egypt, The Gambia, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tanzania, and Turkey. Beside these Council members, 24 officials of COMSATS also attended the meeting from its Headquarters based in Islamabad.
COMSATS is an international/inter-governmental organization of 27 developing countries based in Islamabad. Its programmes related to South-South and Triangular cooperation in various fields of science and technology are implemented through its Network of Centers of Excellence, currently comprising twenty-four (24) academic, scientific and R&D centers from the developing world. The Heads of these Centers constitute COMSATS Coordinating Council, which meets each year in order to review the ongoing programmes and chalk-out the future work-plan.
In his opening remarks, the Chairperson of COMSATS Coordinating Council, Prof. Dr. Ashraf Shaalan (Egypt) appreciated the efforts made by COMSATS Secretariat for organizing the on-line meeting amid COVID-19 crises. While sympathizing with those who have been affected by COVID-19, Prof. Shaalan hoped that through joint efforts, the world will soon rise above this challenge. Also speaking at the occasion, the Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. S. M. Junaid Zaidi stated that the COVID-19 crisis has solidified the resolve of COMSATS and its Coordinating Council to continue striving for the promotion of South-South and Triangular Cooperation in STI, through all possible means.
During the meeting, the Council deliberated upon the ongoing programmes, including COMSATS Centre for Climate and Sustainability, postgraduate scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships at various Centres of Excellence, capacity building activities, Telehealth programme, activities of International Thematic Research Groups, programmes for achieving SDGs, and publications. Noting with great concern the devastating global impacts of COVID-19, which has affected almost all of the COMSATS’ Member States, the Council members deliberated upon collaborating with one another and pool their expertise, human and technological resources in order to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. They also considered focusing their collective efforts on those fields that would be relevant in addressing the socio-economic needs and challenges of the Member States in post-COVID19 scenario. The meeting also reviewed the actions taken by COMSATS Secretariat to implement the decisions made during the previous Council meeting held last year in China, as well as other activities and achievements of the organization. The administrative and financial matters of COMSATS also came under review and were considered satisfactory by the Council.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, the Council appreciated the efforts made by the Executive Director COMSATS and his team for, inter alia, strengthening of COMSATS Network of International S&T Centres of Excellence with the addition of new members; increased interaction, collaboration, and exchange of human and technological resources among the Centres of Excellence; increased opportunities of scholarships and fellowships for the Member States; organization and/or sponsorship of eleven (11) international and fourteen (14) local capacity building events; strengthening of South-South and Triangular Cooperation and conclusion of various MoUs/Agreements; and enhanced interaction with the diplomatic communities of existing and potential Member States.
It was decided that the implementation status of the decisions of this year’s meeting would be reviewed during the next (24th) meeting of the Coordinating Council to be held in Karachi during March 2021.