Mehtab Pirzada / DNA
Islamabad, Sept 13: The Coordinator General of COMSTECH, the Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary addressed the inaugural session of the United Nations General Assembly’s Science Summit on Tuesday. The summit was organized by ISC Intelligence in Science, is a significant platform for global science collaboration during the UN General Assemblies.
In his address, the Coordinator General expressed gratitude to Mr. Declan Kirrane, Managing Director of ISC Intelligence in Science, for his pivotal role in promoting global science collaboration and hosting the Science Summits during the UN General Assemblies.
The Coordinator General highlighted the multiple challenges faced by OIC countries, including food insecurity, poverty, youth unemployment, female illiteracy, and water scarcity. These nations are also among the most vulnerable to climate stress. Additionally, they confront perceptional issues like Islamophobia and distrust.
He said that COMSTECH’s primary focus is on assisting the Least Developed Member States. Their initiatives in Africa involve promoting climate-resilient agriculture, the Health Africa program in ophthalmology and neurology, establishing laboratories and institutions, offering numerous Scholarships and Fellowships, and engaging in country-specific science programs.
The Coordinator General pointed out that the UN Secretary-General’s report from May 2023 highlighted impediments in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, especially for the Global South. He emphasized the need for transformative changes to shift the world toward sustainability.
To achieve the SDGs effectively, he proposed a four-fold approach. Firstly, there is a need to remove disparities in international funding to foster genuine engagement of researchers in international collaborations; secondly, OIC-COMSTECH endorses the idea of establishing a new SDGs goal the “global research cooperation”. This cross cutting goal will help to integrate scientific research into the sustainable development agenda; thirdly, research collaboration and knowledge sharing are crucial for fostering innovation, leveraging expertise, and maximizing the impact of R&D investments; and fourthly, scientific communities need urgent preparation to make post-2030 Agenda more science-based, addressing the shortcoming of SDGs. Thus, there is need to co-create a framework for a science-based post-2030 Agenda by combining lessons from SDGs, and state-of-the-art science.
Prof. Choudhary concluded his speech by proposing setting up a Forum to discuss and identify challenges and mechanisms to strengthen scientific and technological capacity, pertaining to implementation of SDGs. He offered that OIC-COMSTECH will be happy to serve as its secretariat for the global south. He further said that COMSTECH is willing to play a central role in engaging the science community of the Muslim world in research towards solving global challenges.
In closing, the Coordinator General expressed his gratitude to Mr. Kirrane for the opportunity to speak at this prestigious science forum. He highlighted how this invitation has connected the largely disconnected Muslim world to the global science community, emphasizing their shared future.
The Coordinator General’s address was met with appreciation and applause from the audience, marking a significant moment in global science collaboration.