Member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation must mobilize their energies and resources to open new horizons for investment in science and innovation to achieve progress, prosperity, and stability for peoples.
That is according to comments made by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation during a speech at the opening of the second OIC Summit on Science & Technology hosted and chaired by the UAE. The summit aims to discuss ways to promote the advanced technology and science agenda among the OIC countries.
The summit opened with a speech from His Excellency Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Chairperson of the first OIC Summit on Science and Technology, who renewed his country’s efforts to achieve the goals set out in the summits first meeting in Astana in 2017. He also expressed an aspiration to increase achievements as the UAE takes over the presidency of the summit. His speech was followed by the announcement of the formation of the Bureau of the Summit, headed by the UAE.
His Excellency Kassym-Jomart Tokayev highlighted the importance of investing in the future and in youth. “We share a common understanding that the Islamic world has significant scientific potential,” he said.“However, we need to invest more in human capital, especially in high-quality education. It’s vitally important to strengthen and develop our scientific cooperation. It is through these matters that we will be able to revive the glory of the Islamic world in the field of science and innovation. The future of our countries depends on whether we succeed in scientific, technological, and innovative development.”
He added: “Today, we are all facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The fight against the pandemic has become a serious test for scientific and technological policies at both national and international levels. We should not allow vaccines to be used as a political tool. Otherwise, we run the risk of further deteriorating fragile international relations. As a contribution to the battle against COVID-19, Kazakhstan has developed its own vaccine, Kazvac, which is now in the process of obtaining certification from the World Health Organization.”
For his part, His Excellency Dr. Yousef Bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, thanked the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Head of the Islamic Summit, the UAE, for hosting the second edition of the OIC Summit on Science and Technology, and the Republic of Kazakhstan for chairing the first OIC Summit on Science and Technology.
Dr Al-Othaimeen praised advancements made in recent years, where the number of scientific publications released by member states increased 34 percent and technology exports from OIC countries increased 32 percent.
His Excellency Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen warned of challenges that some OIC countries face in the science and technology spheres and called for practical steps in overcoming the obstacles of scientific development. He also stressed the significance of fostering Islamic collaboration in education through increased academic engagement, knowledge exchange, cross-country scholarships, exchange of researchers and specialists, as well as developing tools for strategic planning and future foresight.
In his speech, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation welcomed delegates on behalf of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, stressing the importance of its efforts in opening new horizons for investment in science and innovation to achieve progress, prosperity and stability for the peoples of OIC countries.
His Highness thanked the leadership of Kazakhstan for the efforts it made during its presidency of the first summit, which witnessed the launch of the Ten-Year Action Plan, which focuses on making science and technology the main driver for the development of OIC countries by 2026.
His Highness added: “At Second organization of Islamic cooperation summit on science and technology, we look forward to building on the achievements of the first summit and to proceed together in developing a road map for the most important initiatives and future projects to achieve the goals of the ten-year plan. It is not enough to define goals and develop action plans, but we have to motivate our peoples to lead the innovation process.”
His Highness noted the most prominent scientific milestones of the UAE over the past two decades in making technology, innovation, and applications of the industrial revolution and its solutions a vital element in its various developmental sectors. The success in technological advancement culminated in achievements including launching the “Hope Probe”, the first Arab and Islamic mission to explore Mars and operating the Barakah plant, the first plant for the production of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in the region, which will provide 25% of the UAE’s electricity needs. Other achievements include the launch of the “Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate initiative” with the US and with the support of seven countries to intensify and accelerate global innovation, research, and development efforts in all aspects of the agricultural sector to reduce the effects of climate change.
His Highness said: “These are not Emirati achievements, but Arab and Islamic ones, and they would not have been achieved without our belief in the importance of building bridges of partnership, cooperation, and exchange of experiences with various countries of the world. We have a lot of work ahead of us. This requires us to mobilize our efforts, resources, capabilities, and minds so that we work together to revive the glories of the golden age of Islamic civilization when our sciences illuminated the darkness of the world.”
Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology, moderated the summit and called on delegates to work together on ”developing a comprehensive ecosystem in which advanced sciences and technology will be the key driver of sustainable development for our people and country in the next five years, until the year 2026 when the results of the ten-year plan of the organization are announced”.
Al Amiri noted the role of science and technology sectors in overcoming current development challenges, including poverty alleviation, advancing sustainable development efforts in the health sector, preserving the environment, and ensuring food, water, and energy security.
Al Amiri said: “We all realize that even though Muslim and Arab countries host almost a quarter of the world population and enjoy abundant natural resources, they still face many challenges. In the past two years, during the pandemic and what it has caused, the world has witnessed an unprecedented transformation. Without technology, we would not have been able to continue our lives normally. We all hope that we will see better cooperation and integration in scientific and technological fields among the organization’s 57 members and that the Muslim world will become more developed and sustainable.”
She also stressed that the summit’s platform has been a ”great start to mitigate challenges, find solutions in science and technology in our Muslim and Arab countries, and adopt a unified approach for the next years under the umbrella of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to achieve ambitions and shape a better future for our peoples and next generations”.
Her Excellency stressed that the pandemic requires everyone to cooperate and strengthen partnerships in order to transfer knowledge and prepare for the future, by investing in science, technology, and innovation, which will enable societies to achieve balanced and sustainable growth.
Abu Dhabi Declaration
The summit ended with leaders of the participating countries approvingthe event’s final statement, which was named the Abu Dhabi Declaration. Leadersaffirmed their commitment to all necessary measures to create an environment conducive to achieving progress in science, technology and innovation in the organization’s member states, and to continue working to implement the organization’s program for science, technology and innovation 2026.
Leaders renewed their commitment to enhance and develop science and technology, revive the leading role of Islam globally, and ensure sustainable development, progress and prosperity across the member states. They also stressed that encouraging science and technology is a key aspect in overcoming many contemporary development challenges, such as the elimination of poverty, providing education to all, and dealing with climate change, noting that technological transformation helps accelerate the growth of the member states, especially the under-developed ones.
The Abu Dhabi Declaration called for shaping a comprehensive roadmap to create mechanisms for technology transfer among member states. It also mentioned the Covid-19 crisis, which highlighted the importance of global cooperation so that the international community can adopt science-based solutions when dealing with other complex issues, such as health emergencies and climate change.
The leaders pledged in the declaration to encourage innovation, develop local industries in pharmaceuticals and vaccines, and adopt preventive measures and treatments for infectious and non-infectious diseases in line with international laws and standards.
The Abu Dhabi Declaration also discussed the importance of science and technology in securing future opportunities for the young generation, stressing the need to provide education for all up to secondary school level and to increase investment in STEM education at the primary, secondary and university levels. It also pointed to the important role of education in empowering women and eliminating poverty.
The leaders participating in the Abu Dhabi Declaration also expressed their determined support for agriculture, rural development, and food security among member states as a basic strategy for strengthening solidarity within OIC, while mitigating poverty and protecting lives. They hailed the results of the Workshop on the Development of National Gene Banks for seeds and plants in OIC member states, which was organized by the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS)and headed by the UAE in July 2020.
The Abu Dhabi Declaration highlighted the importance of providing reliable and sustainable energy supplies as a key factor in the battle against poverty. It called for stronger collaboration between member states to exchange knowledge, expertise, and technology in energy while bolstering local support for R&D activities in energy technologies. These activities include renewable energy among other enabling technologies and all that contribute to reducing CO2 emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change.
The Abu Dhabi Declaration urged the strengthening of infrastructure and human resources in the field of biotechnology and nanotechnology, which can provide solutions in medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, and other fields. It also encouraged all member states to formulate digital policies and national roadmaps and to develop programs and initiatives to support the framework of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The declaration emphasized the importance of digital transformation and the use of smart systems, including digital integration, the Internet of things, automation, robotic technologies, cybersecurity, and big data.
The declaration urged all countries to adopt a circular economy, enhance capabilities and increase innovation capabilities in their economies to be ready for the twin transformation (green and digital) in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It also pointed to the need to cooperate in setting standards for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the advanced technologies associated with it to accelerate their adoption and boost productivity by improving effectiveness, efficiency, and supply chain operations to facilitate trade.
The declaration also welcomed the participation of member states in Expo 2020 Dubai, which will be organized under the theme “Connecting Minds and Creating the Future”. Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Expo held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. The declaration calls for wide-scale participation to benefit from the unique platform Expo 2020 Dubai provides as the most influential global incubator for new ideas and technologies to build partnerships and drive progress, thus laying the foundation for a robust social and economic legacy.
High-level International Participation
Leaders and representatives from OIC member states attended the virtual summit. Attendees included H.E. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan, who headed the summit’s first session, H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, President of Turkmenistan, H.E. Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, and H.E. Mohammad Abdul Hamid, President of Bangladesh.
The summit was also attended by H.E. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, H.E. Mohamed Bazoum, President of Niger, H.E. Muhammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, H.E. Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, and H.E. Ma’ruf Amin, Vice President of Indonesia.
H.E. ArifAlvi, President of Pakistan and Chairman of the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH), and H.E. Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, OIC Secretary General, also took part in the summit.