COMSATS and ANSO contributing to South-South Cooperation


Ms. Huma Balouch

As the process of developing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development started, the world was increasingly conscious of the need to develop new and innovative cooperation modalities. This brought a new impetus to the developing countries in the South to increase the depth and breadth of their cooperation to address common socio economic and development challenges, such as Global health, climate change, food security, good governance etc.

Over the past three decades, the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation has been particularly highlighted by the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS). As stated in the Foundation document establishing the Commission in 1994, its basic purpose is to “provide leadership and support for major South-South and North-South cooperative schemes in education, training and research” to its member states.Utilizing South-South cooperation as mechanism to improve member countries’ capacities to better deal with the global challenges and to join the knowledge and resources in the South in a more collective and effective manner, COMSATS encourages the Governments, development agencies, research institutions, private sector, and civil society in developing countries to collaborate, combine their efforts and expertise and to form necessary partnerships to promote science-based solutions for common development.

COMSATS perennial ties with one of its member country, China, for strengthening international research collaboration has expanded with COMSATS accession to the Alliance of International Science Organizations (ANSO) in November 2019.With determination to progress on the leave no one behind agenda in context of global development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental, thirty seven national and regional scientific organizations and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) as leading and founding member, agreed in November 2018 to establish a long-term effective and multilateral cooperation mechanism, the Alliance of International Science Organizations (ANSO). ANSO facilitates ST&I cooperation among countries in the Belt and Road region around their shared challenges and concerns to achieve inclusive and sustainable development. Within these few years, ANSO has made important strides in facilitating collaborative priority-setting for innovation and research cooperation in cross-cutting fields, policy and strategic advice, capacity building and development, and conducting solution-oriented projects among several countries.

COMSATS membership to ANSO enabled COMSATS Member States and Centres of Excellence to participate in ANSO’s activities including fellowship and scholarships; prize and awards; training program; collaborative research; and professional associations. COMSATS and ANSO endorsed South-South cooperation as a more relevant and responsive strategy for the implementation of its Programme of Action and are actively pursuing close cooperation in S&T  to help member countries achieve their development goals. COMSATS-ANSO cooperation involved institutional support, scientific training, joint research programmes, and technology transfer, to equip the South with stronger and effective mechanisms for South-South cooperation. COMSATS and ANSO jointly supporting the building of research capacity in developing countries in the South through PhD-level training and short courses on research training organized by ANSO in China.

Examples of ANSO and COMSATS major initiatives of South-South cooperation include collaborative research activities through multi-lateral cooperation by focusing on issues of immediate concern to member organization or its respective country. With an aim to Initiate and improve action-oriented interdisciplinary research, with greater focus on early identification, prevention and appropriate intervention for emerging problems and opportunities, ANSO announced a Call for Collaborative Research Project for 2020-2021, for which two research projects R&D projects of COMSATS Centre of Excellence have been granted sums of about US$ 150,000/- each, on the recommendation of, and as a result of efforts made by COMSATS. These Collaborative research & innovation projects entitled “Mosquitome of Flying Syringes-Aedesaegypti and Aedesalbopictus& their Fitness vis a vis their Competency to Transmit Infection With Changing Climate” and “Energy and Raw Material Recovery from Treatment Sludge as a Conceptual of Zero Waste”are being carried out by consortia of academic and research organisationsfrom Pakistan, China, Palestine, Tanzania, Thailand and Turkey.

In parallel, COMSATS also providing opportunity to the less technologically advanced member institutions to join International Thematic Research Groups (ITRGs) for working in collaborative project to benefit from the expertise and experience of the superior Lead Centre. COMSATS, along with its partner organizations, has also been organizing a series of webinar on theme of South-South Cooperation in which the eminent experts from member countries and international partner organizations are sharing their insights on how to effectively address the socio-economic needs of the developing countries through South – South and Triangular cooperation in science and technology. To highlight opportunities for South-South and triangular cooperation and the role of the Alliance of International Science Organizations (ANSO) in scaling up SSC in the region, Prof. Dr. Jinghua Cao, Executive Director, Alliance of International Science Organizations (ANSO), China, delivered a talk on ‘Insight on South-South and Triangular Cooperation in S&T’ on 23rd February 2021.

ANSO’s support for international R&D collaboration is directed at the researcher or at institutional level, both in and outside Belt and Road region. Providing unique cooperation models for research–practice collaboration, knowledge transfer, most of these R&D collaboration activities take place at overseas centres of Chinese Academy of Sciences in partnership with member institutions and organizations and other relevant counterparts. A few include: the Sino-Africa Joint Research Centre – China-Africa Partnership on ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture and food security; Alliance of International Science Organizations on Disaster Risk Reduction (ANSO-DRR) to enhance the B&R countries’ resilience against natural hazards);  China-Pakistan Joint Research Centre on Earth Sciences (CPJRC) to carry out pilot technologies for eco-environmental protection and recovery; and ANSO-Rice & Wheat Variety Technology Innovation and Transfer (ANSO-RWIT) to further develop agricultural innovation & technology in nations alongside the Belt and Road.

Ms. Huma Balouch, is Senior Assistant Director at COMSATS Secretariat, Islamabad. With her Doctoral degree in Biotechnology underway, her research interests include molecular biology and microalgae biology