Saturday 24 July 2021 - 12:03:13 pm

UAE-chaired OIC Summit on Science & Technology issues Abu Dhabi Declaration

ABU DHABI, 16th June, 2021 (WAM) -- UAE today chaired the second Organistion of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Science & Technology, which was held virtually in the presence of leaders and representatives from OIC member states to discuss ways to promote the advanced technology and science agenda among the member states.

Addressing the summit, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the OIC member should mobilise their energies and resources to open up new prospects for investment in science and innovation to achieve progress, prosperity and stability for their peoples.

In his speech, Sheikh Abdullah welcomed the participants on behalf of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and 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 today's summit, we look forward to building on the achievements of the first summit and to proceed together with developing a roadmap for the most important initiatives and future projects to achieve the goals of the Ten-Year Action Plan. It is not enough to define goals and develop action plans, but we have to motivate our peoples to lead the innovation process."

He noted the most prominent scientific milestones made by the UAE over the past two decades on 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 several achievements, including launching the Hope Probe, the first Arab and Islamic mission to explore Mars, in addition to operating the Barakah nuclear energy plant, the first in the Arab world and a significant step toward the country’s goal of emissions-free electricity. It will provide 25% of the UAE's electricity needs. Other achievements include the launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) 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."

These are not only Emirati achievements, but also Arab and Islamic ones, Sheikh Abdullah continued. "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 mobilise our efforts, resources and capabilities, so that we work can together to revive the glories of the golden age of Islamic civilisation when our sciences illuminated the darkness of the world."

The summit opened with a speech from 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 summit's 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.

Leaders and representatives from OIC member states attended the virtual summit, including Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan, who headed the summit's first session Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, President of Turkmenistan, Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, and Mohammad Abdul Hamid, President of Bangladesh.

The summit was also attended by Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, Mohamed Bazoum, President of Niger, Muhammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone and Ma'ruf Amin, Vice President of Indonesia.

Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan and Chairman of the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH), and Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, OIC Secretary General, also took part in the summit.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev highlighted the importance of investing in the future and in youth. "We share 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, 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. He 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.

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.

She said: "We all realise 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."

The minister 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".

She 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.

The summit ended with leaders of the participating countries approving the event’s final statement, which was named the 'Abu Dhabi Declaration', wherein they affirmed 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.

The Islamic 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 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 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.

They also underscored their determined support for agriculture, rural development and food security among OIC 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 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 contributes to reducing CO2 emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change.

The document 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 in the framework of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The declaration emphasized the importance of digital transformation and the use of smart systems, including digital integration, Internet of things, automation, robotic technologies, cybersecurity and big data.

The declaration called upon 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 organised 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 large-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.

WAM/Hatem Mohamed/Hassan Bashir