أطلقت مؤسسة الفكر العربي، اليوم الإثنين تقريرها العاشر للتنمية الثقافية تحت عنوان “الابتكار أو الاندثار: البحث العلمي العربي واقعه وتحدياته وآفاقه” خلال مؤتمرها السنوي العاشر الذي تستضيفه دبي. ويعرض التقرير واقع المكتبة العربية الحالي في دول المنطقة ويبرز تحدياتها ويستشرف آفاقها ومآلاتها.وخصص التقرير فضاءً واسعاً للبحث العلمي وأنشطة التكنولوجيا والابتكار في الدول العربية، وما حفلت به أنشطة الابتكار من اكتشافات مذهلة على الصعيد العالمي.طابع شمولي ويتميز التقرير بطابعه الشمولي الذي يتضمن 5 فصول هي تباعاً: البحوث العلمية والتعليم العالي، رافعة الابتكار والتنمية، الثقافة والتوجهات العلمية المتاحة، الابتكار والتطوير التكنولوجي: آليات بناء اقتصاد المعرفة، البحوث في خدمة المجتمع، بالإضافة إلى ذلك يتضمن التقرير أيضاً 25 ورقة بحثية امتدت على أكثر من 500 صفحة.ولم يستثن التقرير أي بلد عربي في المشرق والمغرب، وشارك في تأليفه باحثون من دول الخليج العربي، وبلاد الشام، ووادي النيل، والمغرب العربي، كما يستجيب التقرير العربي العاشر للتنمية الثقافية في توجهه للمبادرة التي أطلقتها منظمة الأمم المتحدة في مطلع عام 2016 لتحقيق خطة التنمية المستدامة 2030.ويركز التقرير على أهمية صياغة رؤى وتصورات واقتراحات حول المستقبل المرجو والممكن لما تخطط له الدول العربية من مبادرات على الأمدين القريب والمتوسط. الاستنتاجاتوخلص التقرير إلى أن الأزمات التي تمر بها الدول العربية اليوم سببها القصور في استثمار وإعادة إنتاج المعرفة العلمية والتكنولوجية، ما انعكس سلباً على التنمية الاقتصادية والاجتماعية فيها.وأكدت المؤشرات المعتمدة في التقرير أن الدول العربية ما زالت في الصفوف الخلفية بين دول العالم فيما يتعلق بمدخلات العلوم والتكنولوجيا الحديثة.ورصد التقرير قلة عدد البلدان العربية التي تضم مراكز متخصصة بالبحث العلمي، إضافةً إلى أن معظم أنشطة البحث العلمي تنجزها مؤسسات التعليم العالي.ورغم زيادة التحاق الإناث بالتعليم في الدول العربية وما أحرزنه من تقدمٍ علمي، إلا أن ذلك لم يؤد إلى نمو اقتصادي نظراً لعدم ارتباط التعليم بالاقتصاد.توصياتوأوصى التقرير بتعزيز مساهمات الحكومات المركزية وتوثيق تعاونها مع القطاع الخاص، وبضرورة تنمية القدرات العلمية والتكنولوجية وتحفيز الابتكار محلياً، وبذل عناية فائقة بالتعليم والتربية في جميع مراحلهما وبالأخص برعاية المؤسسات الجامعية غير الربحية، وطالب التقرير بتبني أساليب مبتكرة للتعاون العربي في مجالات العلوم والتكنولوجيا والابتكار لإطلاق مبادرات خلاقة للاستفادة من المبتكرين العرب.ودعا التقرير إلى تدريس العلوم والتكنولوجيا باللغة العربية لوقف هجرة العقول إلى خارج الدول العربية، وبحث أسباب هذه الهجرة، وإرساء نظام حاضن يربط الكفاءات العلمية المهاجرة بوطنها الأم.وأشار التقرير العربي العاشر للتنمية الثقافية إلى أن براءات الاختراع في الدول العربية تمثل أكثر من 80% من القيمة السوقية للشركات الكبرى، داعياً الدول العربية لتبني سياسات ذكية تستند إلى بناء مستقبل في صناعة الملكية الفكرية، مؤكداً ضعف الإعلام العلمي في الدول العربية، وتواضع أدائه، إذ لا يتجاوز عدد المجلات العلمية في الدول العربية 24 مجلة، فضلاً عن 34 موقعاً إلكترونياً علمياً.وأكد التقرير أن البلدان العربية حالات منفردة ومتباينة من حيث قدراتها العلمية والتكنولوجية، ويجب التعامل معها على هذا الأساس عند تطوير الخطط التنفيذية، منوهاً بضرورة الاستثمار في تنمية يكون محورها الناس ويرصد التهميش الذي يطال العلوم الاجتماعية في الدول العربية، داعياً إلى تكوين مدارس عربية في العلوم الاجتماعية والأنثروبولوجية والاستثمار في الإنسانيات والآداب.وأشار التقرير إلى الاعتراف الضعيف بالجماعة العلمية في البلدان العربية، رغم غناها بالجامعات والمستشفيات ومراكز البحوث العامة المتخصصة إلى حدٍّ ما في الإنتاج العلمي، داعياً إلى إطلاق حوار دائم وبناء صلات مهنية بين مكونات المجتمع العلمي العربي على الصعيد الوطني والإقليمي.تحدياتوشدد التقرير على أن من شأن انخراط النساء في العلم والتقنية والابتكار والثقافة العلمية، أن يسهم في تمكين المرأة العربية مجتمعياً، إنساناً فاعلاً ومتفاعلاً في محيطه وخارجه في الوقت نفسه، موصياً بنشر الثقافة العلمية باعتبارها منطلق نجاح الثقافة التنموية لتوليد فرص عمل جديدة ومكافحة الفقر، إلى جانب التأكيد على ضرورة وضع استراتيجيات بديلة لتحفيز الابتكار، وتأسيس منظومات وطنية للابتكار يمكنها تحقيق أهداف التنمية المستدامة.وأوضح التقرير العربي العاشر للتنمية الثقافية أن التحدي الرئيس للتنمية المعاصرة في العالم العربي يتمثل في الاعتماد المفرط على الموارد الطبيعية والمصادر غير المتجددة، مشدداً على ضرورة دخول العرب مجتمعات المعرفة والإنتاج والتخلي عن الاعتماد المفرط على الريع، برفع مستوى الطلاب، وتدريب اليد العاملة، وزيادة الإنفاق على البحث والتطوير وفق خطة طويلة الأمد.ودعا التقرير إلى ضرورة إعادة النظر في السياسات والبنية التحتية للمؤسسات الصحية العربية بهدف ملاءمة الحاجات الاجتماعية والاقتصادية في المنطقة، والعودة إلى مفهوم الصحة باعتبارها حقاً، لاسلعةً، والتركيز على الإثراء المعرفي للسياسات الصحية الوقائية، والنظر في الذكاء الاصطناعي والثورة الصناعية الرابعة، على أنها جزء أساسي من المستقبل التنموي للعالم العربي. باحثون من أنحاء الوطن العربييُذكر أن الأوراق البحثية في التقرير العربي العاشر للتنمية الثقافية من إعداد نخبة من الباحثين والاختصاصيين من أنحاء الوطن العربي هم بحسب ترتيب أوراقهم في التقرير الدكاترة: عمر بزري، رمزي سلامة، محمد الربيعي، محمد المعزوز، نايف سعادة، معين حمزة، خضر الشيباني، محمد المراياتي، محمد نور الدين أفايا، سهيل مارين، معتز خورشيد، منيف الزعبي، عاطف قبرصي، عبد الإله الديوه جي، محمود صقر، جواد الخراز، نجيب صعب، عمر الديوه جي، محمد نجيب عبد الواحد، مازن الحمادي، ساري حنفي، فاديا كيوان، مها بخيت زكي، عبد الله القفاري، عماد بشير.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra on Friday, on behalf of the President Mamnoon Hussain, honoured one personality of the province with Sitara-I-Imtiaz, three with Presidential Pride of Performance Award and one with Tamgha-I-Imtiaz in recognition of their illustrious achievements in their respective disciplines at the ceremony held at the Governor’s House, Peshawar on Friday.
Dr Zabta Khan Shinwari, got Sitara-I-Imtiaz in acknowledgement of his extraordinary services in the field of Bio Technology. Dr Bashir Khan in the field of Bio Technology, Dr Abul Samad in the field of Archeology and Kahlid Noor in Martial Arts got the President’s Award for Pride of Performance. Dr Asifullah in the field of Computer Science was also awarded with Tamgha-I-Imtiaz for his remarkable achievements in their respective fields.
On the occasion, the governor congratulated the recipients of the National Awards and also paid tributes to the martyrs of the Pakistan Movement.
It is with a sense of sadness and sorrow that the President and the Director General of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) in Amman, Jordan, announce the passing away of the eminent Chechen scientist: Prof. Salambek Khadjiev, Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences. He was 77.
He was Former Minister of Petro-fining and Petrochemicals in the former Soviet Union.
An IAS Fellow since 1989, Prof. Khadjiev’s held the post of Director General of NPO “Grozneftechim” Institute in Grozny, USSR.
Prof. Khadjiev was a Doctor of Chemical Sciences with a diverse interest in almost every branch of chemistry, as well as a keen interest in the economics of the petrochemical industry.
Prof. Khadjiev has published over 200 scientific papers including many dealing with the development of the petroleum-refining technology and the various new techniques in the petrochemical industry.
As well as editing and publishing 4 books, Prof. Khadjiev has 90 patent certificates to his name in the field of Petroleum Refining and Petrochemistry.
Prof. Khadjiev will be greatly missed by his colleagues and fellow scientists in (Russia/ Chechnya) and the Islamic world. “Ina Lillah Wa Ina Ilaihi Raj’oon.”
IAS President, Fellows and staff offer their heartfelt condolences to his family and friends throughout the world.
|Moneef R. Zou’bi
Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS)
|Abdel Salam Majali
Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS)
It is with a sense of sadness and sorrow that the President and the Director General of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) in Amman, Jordan, announce the passing away of the eminent Turkish scientist/ medical doctor: Prof. Naci Bor, Founding Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences. He was 90.
Born in Bor, Turkey in 1928, he completed his first degree from the Medical Faculty of Istanbul University in 1952.
He went to the United States in 1952 and studied internal medicine. Later he specialized in cardiology. He then went on to do research in cardiac physiology for which he was appointed to the staff at Emory university, Atlanta, Georgia (1958). He taught and conducted research there for three years and then he was invited to Philadelphia Presbyterian Hospital to initiate research in fetal physiology. He was simultaneously appointed as a member of the teaching staff at the University of Pennsylvania.
Prof. Bor returned to Turkey in 1963 to become the founding director of physiology in a new medical school in Ankara. In 1976, he took over the research facility and organized “The Medical and Surgical Research Center” in the same University.
He was a member of the science council of TUBITAK (Turkish Scientific and Technical National Research Council) and has taken part in its administration.
He has established two science journals (Doga, and Turkish Journal for Medical Sciences) and has served as their editor. He has also been on the board of three other science journals.
Prof. Bor was a chairman of the Research Center at Hacettepe University, and Chairman of the Anadolu Health and Research Foundation.
Prof. Bor was a Founding Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (1986), and Founding Editor of its journal (1988). He was elected to the Council of the IAS for the period 1994-1999, and re-elected for the same post in 1999 and 2003.
Prof. Bor will be greatly missed by his colleagues and fellow scientists in Turkey and the Islamic world. “Ina Lillah Wa Ina Ilaihi Raj’oon.”
IAS President, Fellows and staff offer their heartfelt condolences to his family and friends throughout the world.
The Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Excellence Awards for 2017 were presented during the official opening of the 30th African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 28th January 2018. The awards were presented by President Paul Kagame, newly elected Chair of the African Union, and Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission. The EU was represented at the Opening Ceremony by Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.
The prestigious Award programme was launched by the AU in 2009 and the EU has been supporting it since 2012, with the allocation of USD 603,048 in 2017 alone. The Awards aim to encourage research contributing to the wellbeing and improved quality of life of African citizens.
The 2017 laureates of the continental awards are:
For the Earth and Life Science Award: Professor Robert P. Millar from South Africa has carried out world-class research on peptide regulators of reproductive hormones. He pioneered the discovery of the Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) prohormone, novel GnRH structures, and the first cloning of the GnRH I and GnRH II receptors. He has participated in, and led, a number of programmes developing GnRH analogues for use in a wide range of clinical pathologies. His research opened up markets for the primary treatment of prostatic cancer, precocious puberty (the sole treatment), hormone-dependent diseases in women (e.g. endometriosis) and for In Vitro Fertilization. Since 2016, he has been the Director of the Center of Neuroendocrinology at the University of Pretoria.
For the Basic Science, Technology and Innovation Award: Algerian Professor Maaza Malik is the pioneer and the architect of nanosciences and nanotechnology in Africa. His long history in stimulating academic excellence and communication between academia, researchers, local communities and society within the continent gained him the international recognition of UNESCO, which bestowed him the 1st South-South Chair: the UNESCO UNISA Africa Chair in Nanosciences & Nanotechnology in South Africa. Prof. Maaza has pioneered and implemented numerous continental and national initiatives such as the African Laser Centre, the Nanosciences African Network, the National Laser Centre of South Africa (NLC SA) and the South African Nanotechnology initiative (SANi).
Each of the awardees received a cheque of 100,000 USD to further boost their research capacity in the fields of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation and Life and Earth Sciences. The European Union wishes to express its congratulations to the two laureates of these prestigious awards.
It is with a sense of sadness and sorrow that the President and the Director General of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) in Amman, Jordan, announce the passing away of the eminent Pakistani scientist: Prof. Ishfaq Ahmad, Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences. He was 88.
Prof. Ishfaq Ahmad was born in Gurdaspur (India) on 3rd November 1930. He was Chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, 1991-2001. Prof. Ahmad was awarded his MSc (Physics) from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan, in 1951, and in 1958 was awarded a DSc (Physics), from the University of Montreal, Canada. He was a Senior Member, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), 1988-1991, after serving for thirteen years as Member (Technical) of the same Commission.
Prof. Ishfaq Ahmad was the Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan (2001-2007) with the status of Federal Minister. He joined the Planning Commission with the status of a Minister of State, 2007-2009; Advisor on Development and Global Climate Change in the Planning Commission with the status of a Minister of State, 2009-2012; Chairman Board of Governors (BoG), National Centre for Physics (NCP), since its start. Prof. Ishfaq also started the only centre of the Science of Climate Change in Pakistan and also the Earthquake Studies Centre (ESC) for forecasting earthquakes.
Prof. Ishfaq Ahmad served as Director, Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), Islamabad, Pakistan, 1971-1976; Director, Atomic Energy Center (AEC), Lahore, 1969-1971; Secretary, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), 1967-1969;Senior Scientific Officer, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), 1960-1966; and Lecturer, Government College, Lahore, 1952-1960. He was Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Sorbonne, Paris (France), in 1969; and at the Niels Bohr Institute of Theoretical Physics, Copenhagen (1961-1962).
Prior to that, in (1963-1964), Prof. Ahmad was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at both the University of Montreal, and the University of Ottawa, Canada. Prof. Ishfaq was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Punjab University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore (2000). In the same year, he was elected a Fellow of the International Nuclear Energy Academy. He is the recipient of the three highest official awards in Pakistan namely Sitara-I-Imtiaz, the Hilal-I-Imtiaz and the Nishan-I-Imitiaz, the last of which was awarded to him in 1998.
Prof. Ishfaq was also instrumental in the creation of Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA). He has over 40 major publications to his credit including a series of PUGWASH Conference proceedings. He also developed Pakistan’s Scientific Cooperation with the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) and also with the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ASICTP).
The main research interest of Prof. Ishfaq Ahmad was in Particle Detectors, Nuclear and High Energy Physics, as well as Nuclear Technology. He became a Fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences in 1983, and was elected a Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) in 2000.
Prof. Ahmad will be greatly missed by his colleagues and fellow scientists in Pakistan and the Islamic World. “Ina Lillah Wa Ina Ilaihi Raj’oon.”
IAS President, Fellows and staff offer their heartfelt condolences to his family and friends throughout the world.
|Moneef R. Zou’bi
Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS)
|Abdel Salam Majali
Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS)
As Apollo 11 slowly descended to the moon’s surface, the team of NASA scientists responsible for choosing the first lunar landing site was as anxious and in awe as the rest of the world.
“All our hearts were pounding,” recalled geologist Farouk El-Baz, a NASA scientist on the Apollo space program’s site-selection committee. “What if the moon was completely different than we thought? We were not 100 percent sure of all aspects, so there was room for error.”
The capsule, in fact, touched down July 20, 1969—4 miles from the predicted landing point and about a minute-and-a-half sooner than scheduled. But as commander Neil Armstrong proclaimed “the Eagle has landed,” made his historic “giant leap for mankind” and returned the spaceship safely to Earth, the mission—and five Apollo lunar landings that followed—was considered a rousing success.
El-Baz was involved in site selection for each of those missions. He also created and still directs a NASA-recognized “Center of Excellence,” the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University. The center uses space technology to study the earth and its environment, including finding critically needed groundwater in arid regions around the globe.
For his life’s work, El-Baz will receive the 2018 Inamori Ethics Prize from the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University during a ceremony and academic symposium Sept. 13-14, during which he will deliver a public lecture about the focus of his research and the challenges ahead.
“Dr. El-Baz has shown tremendous ethical leadership throughout his life,” said Inamori Center Director Shannon French, the Inamori Professor in Ethics and a professor in the Department of Philosophy and at the School of Law. “Not only did he serve all of humankind with his essential contributions to NASA’s historic Apollo space program, but he has since turned his talents to the task of locating desperately needed scarce resources here on the Earth to save lives and resolve deadly conflicts. As many have stated, he is truly a national—and international—treasure.”
As part of its mission to foster ethical leadership worldwide, the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University annually presents the Inamori Ethics Prize to a recipient who demonstrates exemplary ethical leadership. First awarded in 2008, the prize honors outstanding international ethical leaders whose actions and influence have greatly improved the condition of humankind.
Pioneer in space and groundwater exploration
El-Baz is known for pioneering work in applying space images to groundwater exploration in arid lands. Based on the analysis of space photographs, his recommendations resulted in the discovery of groundwater resources in Egypt, India, China, Sudan, Sultanate of Oman, United Arab Emirates and Chad.
To honor his research on the understanding of arid lands and their groundwater resources, the Geological Society of America Foundation established two annual awards: The Farouk El-Baz Award for Desert Research to reward professional excellence in arid land studies, and The Farouk El-Baz Student Research Award to be awarded to two students—one male and one female—to encourage geological research on arid lands.
A veteran of NASA’s Apollo program, El-Baz served as secretary of the lunar landing site-selection committee and chairman of astronaut training in orbital observations and photography.
His outstanding teaching abilities were confirmed by the Apollo astronauts: While circling the moon for the first time during Apollo mission 15, command module pilot Alfred Worden said, “After the King’s (El-Baz’s nickname) training, I feel like I’ve been here before.”
In his honor, one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation featured a shuttle spacecraft named “El-Baz.” He was also the focus of an episode of the Tom Hanks-produced HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, in a segment titled, “The Brain of Farouk El-Baz.”
Vast knowledge and leadership
The Egyptian-born El-Baz received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and geology from Ain Shams University in Cairo, received a master’s and PhD from from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (after conducting research at MIT), taught mineralogy at Heidelberg University in Germany and worked in Egypt’s oil industry. He became a naturalized United States citizen in 1970.
In 1973, he established and directed for a decade the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum of Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. He was vice president for Science and Technology at Itek Optical Systems from 1982 until he joined Boston University in 1986.
El-Baz is a member of the United States National Academy of Engineering, the Committee for Geological Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences and serves on several boards, including the Arab Science and Technology Foundation, the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies, the Egyptian-American Affairs Council, the Moroccan-American Council, the World Affairs Council of Boston, the Library of Alexandria and the British University in Egypt.
He is a member of many national and international professional societies and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Astronomical Society in London and the Explorers Club in New York.
About the Inamori Ethics Prize
The Inamori Center was endowed by a generous gift from Kazuo Inamori, who established Kyocera Corp. and is a global telecommunications leader and founder of the Inamori Foundation that presents the annual Kyoto Prize in Kyoto, Japan.
Previous Inamori Ethics Prize winners were:
- Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, 2017;
- Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International and pioneer of the global fight against corruption, 2016;
- Martha C. Nussbaum, celebrated philosopher and groundbreaking scholar at the University of Chicago, 2015;
- Denis Mukwege, physician and human rights activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2014;
- Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, 2013;
- David Suzuki, environmentalist and broadcaster, 2012;
- Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe, 2011;
- Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical, 2010;
- Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and Ireland’s first woman president, 2009; and
- Francis S. Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project and director of the National Institutes of Health, 2008.
Call to change educational practices to allow future generations to tackle climate change
The world’s academies of science release a ‘Statement on Climate Change and Education’
For the remainder of the 21st century and beyond, climate change poses an existential threat to humanity.
Under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, the world’s nations agreed to keep global temperature rises to within 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. One degree of that rise has already occurred. However, in the recent COP23 meeting held in Bonn, Germany, we are still heading towards 3 degrees rise, and possibly more.
The Paris Agreement also states “Parties should take measures … to enhance climate change education” (Paris Agreement, Art.12).
“Decisions on how to tackle the effects of climate change need to be based on sound science and rational judgement,” says Krishan Lal (India), co-chair of IAP for Science. “They will also need to be made through the coming years – so it is the younger generation, currently in schools and learning about science, who will need to make those decisions.”
Unfortunately, in many countries, science education is often poor and does not develop the rational thinking or provide the inter-disciplinary study required to learn about climate change.
IAP and its member academies have a long track record in improving science education in many countries through the promotion of inquiry-based science education (IBSE), whereby children learn teamwork and rational thinking through the scientific process of developing hypotheses, designing and carrying out experiments to test them, and evaluating their results to develop conclusions. Currently, however, even the best science education tends to be taught in traditional silos – biology, chemistry, physics, etc, whereas climate change education requires a more inter-disciplinary approach.
The IAP ‘Statement on Climate Change and Education’ recognizes this and, to start the process of revitalizing education, lays out a series of recommendations on how effective climate change education can be promoted in schools around the world.
Among the specific recommendations of the Statement are the wider uptake of IBSE in schools around the world; the need to provide teachers with adequate training and resources; and that the periodic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ‘Assessment Reports’ and accompanying ‘Summaries for Policy Makers’ can be used as the basis for producing ‘Resources & Tools for Teachers’.
“We believe that climate change is a real threat to humanity, but also could be a formidable opportunity for all of us to modify the current unsustainable way of living, as recently outlined by more than 15,000 scientists in their call to the humanity. During major civilization changes, education has played a capital role to prepare the youth and convey the new ideas. Our goal in releasing this Statement is to contribute to this process,” says Pierre Léna of the Académie des sciences, France, who chaired the working group that produced the IAP Statement.
“We hear everywhere pessimistic statements about the future of our planet,” adds Marie-Lise Chanin, also of the French Académie des sciences, who co-chaired the development of the Statement with Pierre Léna. “but engaging the young generation in this issue and empowering students as ‘agents of change’ will bring hope and optimism.”
The IAP for Science ‘Statement on Climate Change and Education’ will be released on 12 December in Paris, France, at the One Planet Summit, being held under the auspices of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron.
“This Statement on Climate Change Education builds on IAP’s track record in promoting science education,” says Volker ter Meulen (Germany), the other co-chair of IAP for Science. “And by releasing it during President Macron’s One Planet Summit we hope that it will reach the eyes and ears of governments and decision-makers worldwide and convince them that they need to take both individual and collective action on this existential issue.”
The preparation IAP Statements is led by one of its member academies (in this case the Académie des sciences, France). A working group of experts nominated by IAP member academies is established to develop and refine the Statement. A Statement is released only when it has been approved by the IAP for Science Executive Committee and more than half of IAP members have endorsed its contents. Thus, the contents of this IAP Statement is supported by the credibility and independence of the majority of the world’s academies of science.
The InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) was formally launched in South Africa in March 2016 and brought together three established global networks of academies of science, medicine and engineering.
Under the InterAcademy Partnership, more than 130 national and regional member academies work together to support the special role of science and its efforts to seek solutions to address the world’s most challenging problems. In particular, IAP harnesses the expertise of the world’s scientific, medical and engineering leaders to advance sound policies, promote excellence in science education, improve public health, and achieve other critical development goals.
IAP for Science (founded in 1993 as the InterAcademy Panel) brings together a sub-set of 113 academies from among the 130-plus members of the InterAcademy Partnership.
IAP and its member academies have a strong track record in trying to improve science education by promoting inquiry-based science education (IBSE) through its Science Education Programme, which has been active since 2003, including through a prior ‘IAP Statement on Science Education’ signed by 69 member academies.
Copies of the Statement are available for download from: http://www.interacademies.net/10878/32036.aspx
On 10-11 September this year, the city of Astana, in northern Kazakhstan, hosted the first Summit on Science and Technology in the history of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Representatives of all 57 member states, including several heads of state and government, were there to adopt the organization’s first action plan oriented solely towards science, technology and innovation (STI), the OIC STI Agenda 2026. Moneef Zou’bi, who is Director General of the Islamic Academy of Sciences and co-author of the chapter on the Arab States in the UNESCO Science Report (2015), delivered a keynote speech to the summit. In this blogpost, he explains why this Agenda reflects a long-overdue aspiration for change in the Islamic world.
From the outset, the OIC STI Agenda 2026 strikes a refreshing tone. ‘Science is disruptive and flourishes in an environment of irreverence’, states the preamble.
Of the twelve priorities highlighted by the Agenda, nurturing the thinking mind by building a culture of science and innovation comes first. The Agenda observes that, ‘notwithstanding some important gains in the past decade, a true scientific culture is conspicuous by its absence. There should be no fears about the disruptive nature of knowledge and science, as this has been part of our heritage and traditions for centuries’… ‘Catch them young’, the Agenda urges, ‘so that critical thinking, integrity, curiosity, and creativity can flourish in the school systems’.
The reference to the golden era of Islamic science is not fortuitous. The Agenda argues that the marginal role science plays today in the Islamic world is a result of the loss of three key features that enabled Islam to enrich humanity’s accumulated reservoir of knowledge for 1000 years (circa 6th-16th centuries in the Gregorian calendar). The first of these three features is the recognition that science cannot emerge without a scientific culture which appreciates precision, learning and inquiry, encourages curiosity and criticism and interacts with the rest of the world to exchange ideas and share information.
The second feature is the recognition that science needs patronage and political support to flourish. During the golden age of Islamic science, the Umayyad and Abbāsid periods, science blossomed thanks to rulers’ direct and indirect political patronage. At the OIC Summit in Astana last September, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed establishing a forum similar to the G20, in order to utilize such a grouping to develop science and economies in the Islamic world.
The third feature is the recognition that science needs openness and diversity to prosper. Interdisciplinarity was the norm for Islamic science of the classical period, with no subject being out of bounds. Critical thought was supported and promoted by philosophy and debate was encouraged.
The Agenda embraces all three features. It encourages critical thought and creativity and calls upon governments to invest in every sphere of science: education, basic science, big science, etc.. It also encourages member states to establish science and technology funds to nurture joint bilateral and multilateral projects.
Targets for greater investment in research
The Agenda fixes a number of targets for investment. For instance, the fifth priority concerning improving the quality of higher education and research invites member states to ‘consider doubling the annual expenditure by 2025 on scientific infrastructure and research and development (R&D) in those countries which spend less than 0.3% of GDP, and aim for a target of 2.0% in countries which are at a relatively advanced level, in accordance with the relevant national laws in each member state’.
Currently, the two OIC countries with the greatest research intensity are Malaysia (1.30% of GDP in 2015) and Turkey (1.01% in 2014). When you consider that both countries have doubled their research intensity since 2004, the 2% target for 2026 seems within reach. Malaysia is even planning to reach this target by 2020. Turkey has even greater ambitions, with the government’s Strategic Vision 2023 document advancing a 3% target for the year the Republic celebrates its centenary in 2023. The world average in 2013 was 1.70% of GDP.
The great majority of Islamic countries spend much less of their GDP on R&D, according to the UNESCO Science Report. Burkina Faso, Oman, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have all hovered at the 0.2% mark for the past decade and spending levels have actually dropped in Iran and Pakistan to about 0.3% of GDP. Qatar devotes about 0.5% of GDP to research and Kuwait 0.3%. It is hard for oil-rent economies to have a strong research intensity, owing to their high GDP. This said, Saudi Arabia actually now spends a respectable 0.87% of GDP on R&D, according to figures published by the Ministry of Higher Education1 in 2013.
The situation can evolve rapidly with sufficient political backing. Egypt raised its research intensity from 0.27% to 0.72% of GDP between 2004 and 2015 and even inscribed the 1% target in the Egyptian Constitution of 2014. The United Arab Emirates published data for the first time in 2011 and, by 2015, had – jointly with Saudi Arabia – the greatest research intensity of any Arab country: 0.87% of GDP.
The United Arab Emirates has achieved a similar feat when it comes to researchers. When it published related data for the first time in 2015, it immediately took the lead for the number of researchers per million inhabitants (2 003 in full-time equivalents), ahead of the traditional champion for this indicator in the Arab world, Tunisia (1 787). Among Muslim countries as a whole, only Malaysia had a higher ratio (2 261). The world average was 1 083 per million.
Data are unavailable for about one-quarter of Muslim countries but, according to the UNESCO Science Report, a growing number are developing national STI observatories to ensure better data collection and analysis in order to inform policy-making. Examples are Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia. For its part, the African Union established an African Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation in Equatorial Guinea in 2011 which publishes pan-African R&D data in the African Innovation Outlook every three years. As of 2010, Mali and Senegal devoted 0.58% and 0.54% of GDP to R&D, respectively.
Time is of the essence
It will be imperative to capture the moment. Many politicians in OIC countries are under pressure from their populations to succeed in terms of achieving strong national economic growth, cutting unemployment and raising living standards.
The economic fallout from the current insecurity in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen will ultimately be felt by all Arab countries, slowing the influx of foreign direct investment and hurting real estate markets. This will cause a slowdown in economic growth and push up unemployment in the region. Both Arab states reliant on exporting goods and services to the USA and European Union and those that normally receive aid from these quarters may be affected.
In parallel, OIC countries are conscious that, if they do not manage to adapt their workforces to the new knowledge economy, they will face growing unemployment. After relocating much of their production to the developing world in the 1980s, industrial countries are now investing in advanced manufacturing to revitalize their domestic manufacturing sector. In what has been dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technological fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, informatics and cognitive sciences are converging to blur the boundaries between the virtual world and reality, services and industry. Artificial intelligence is transforming society at a breakneck pace, changing the face of fields as disparate as medicine, manufacturing and cybersecurity. On the factory floor, robots and other cyber-physical systems are being designed to monitor production and make independent decisions.
This revolution is producing technological and organizational changes in manufacturing that are already reducing demand for unskilled labour in both developed and developing countries. It is no wonder that the OIC STI Agenda 2026 lays such heavy emphasis on high technology. It states, for instance, that ‘computational chemistry and computational biology now offer the possibility of manipulating atoms and molecules to create totally new entities, systems, membranes, materials and also fuel cells, which are critical for energy storage’.
A reinvigorated organization
The OIC is experiencing something of a revival that is particularly noticeable in the area of STI. This revival began in June 2011, when another summit in Astana decided to rename the Organisation of the Islamic Conference the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to signal the start of a new era and emphasize the cooperation aspect of the organization’s mandate, particularly with regard to other international bodies and United Nations agencies.
The OIC was founded in 1969 as a political organization grouping Muslim-majority countries. In 1981, the heads of state of the OIC decided to establish a number of specialized bodies to enhance co-operation between member states in a number of areas, including science and technology. This task was entrusted to the Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Co-operation (COMSTECH), based in Islamabad (Pakistan). The Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) soon followed and was launched in Amman (Jordan) in 1986. Since the 1980s, a lot of effort has been expended by individual OIC countries and offshoot organizations to develop science and technology in member states but success stories have been few and far between.
The OIC Summit in Malaysia in 2003 adopted a yardstick for measuring progress in science and technology in member states, Vision 1441. The year 1441 in the Islamic Hijri Calendar corresponds to 2020 in the Gregorian calendar. Vision 1441 contained both collective and individual targets. Collectively, OIC countries were to account for at least 14% of the world’s scientific output by the year 1441, through greater investment in science and technology, including research and development (R&D). Individually, OIC countries were to develop a competent workforce of at least 1441 researchers, scientists and engineers per million inhabitants and to devote at least 1.4% of GDP to R&D by the year 1441.
These three targets are, of course, extrapolated from the 1441 figure. This approach was chosen to ensure that people, especially top decision-makers, could relate to these targets. The choice of indicators is fortunate, particularly as the latter two have been chosen by the United Nations as the yardsticks for measuring progress worldwide towards Sustainable Development Goal 9.5, which encourages all countries to ‘enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors … including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending’.
When Prof. Ekmeleldin Ihsanoglu took the helm in 2005 as Secretary-General of the OIC, he encouraged member states to include a major component on STI in their Ten-Year Plan of Action to 2015. Owing to a lack of financial resources, interest among decision-makers in implementing the Plan of Action gradually dwindled, at least in the field of science and technology. In the higher education sector, however, a growing number of universities joined the ranks of the world’s top universities, including several from Malaysia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The number of scientific publications catalogued in international journals also tripled. This was partly a result of the growing number of researchers and partly thanks to pro-active policies designed to attract foreign experts to OIC campusesor, indeed, persuade highly cited international researchers to adopt an OIC-based university for their second affiliation. Despite these positive trends, OIC countries generally still lag behind other fast-developing nations.
The OIC’s STI Agenda 2026 was drafted by COMSTECH and discussed at a number of meetings in Pakistan, as well as at the OIC Secretariat in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). It is an ambitious document that is perhaps less utilitarian than it ought to be. It places great emphasis on mechanisms for building collective competence in a wide array of areas ranging from water, food and agriculture to energy, the basic and applied sciences, along with large multinational projects, in addition to strengthening international linkages with the best in the world. Recommendations and targets in this document are aspirational rather than prescriptive, with each government setting its own list of national targets to reflect its particular circumstances and ambitions.
The OIC STI Agenda 2026 will remain a stand-alone silo, unless a core group of countries commit to pursuing its ambitious recommendations and, ‘critically,’ allocate the financial means needed to realize its exciting ideas.
1 Ministry of Higher Education (2013) Actual Expenditure on Scientific Research and Development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the fiscal year 1434/1435 H (in Arabic). Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Ministry of Higher Education, Secretariat for Planning and Information, General Directorate for Planning.
Source: Moneef Zou’bi and Susan Schneegans, with excerpts from the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 (2015). See in particular the chapters on the Arab States, Malaysia, West Africa, Central and East Africa, Central Asia, the countries around the Black Sea basin and the Caricom countries (for Suriname and Guyana)