Under the patronage of Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) convened its 19th international science conference in Dhaka, the capital of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, during 6-9 May 2013. The theme of the conference was ‘Achieving Socioeconomic Development in the Islamic World through Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).’
Held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka, the IAS Conference was an open activity in which over 200 local and international participants representing over 40 countries participated. Among the participants were Fellows of the IAS, local scientists from the various universities, young university students, expatriate Bangladeshi scientists as well as representatives of Asian, African and Western academies of sciences. Prior to the conference, the 20th Meeting of the General Assembly of the IAS as well as the 39th Meeting of the IAS Council were arranged.
The 19th IAS Conference was organised and sponsored by:
- Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS), Amman, Jordan;
- Prime Ministry of Bangladesh;
- Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh;
- University Grants Commission of Bangladesh; and
- Bangladesh Academy of Sciences.
It w as co-sponsored by:
- OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Vienna, Austria;
- Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;
- Ministry of Science and Technology of Bangladesh;
- OIC Ministerial Committee on Scientific and Technological Co-operation (COMSTECH), Islamabad, Pakistan;
- Arab Potash Company, Amman, Jordan;
- Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Dhaka, Bangladesh; and
- Bangladesh University of Health Science (BUHS), Dhaka, Bangladesh
The conference addressed a number of key issues in the domain of science, technology and innovation (STI) for development, and represented an attempt by the IAS to engage the Bangladeshi decision-making and science communities and draw possible lessons from the Bangladesh experience that could be of benefit to the wider community of OIC-Member States.
Bangladesh, which is among the most populous of OIC countries, is a country that is regularly affected by natural disasters. Yet, it is a country that has managed to develop the capacity to mitigate and manage natural phenomena effectively, and achieve a respectable level of food security for its vast population.
As a result of some obvious strengths in certain export-oriented industrial sectors, it has also managed to maintain high economic growth. And although there is limited interaction between public and private-sector actors and little university–industry collaboration, the country’s ingenuity manifests itself in light engineering where it is producing import-substitution products that are creating employment and alleviating poverty. Endogenous technologies include those related to ferries, power plants, machinery and spare parts.
Bangladesh is also developing the high-tech sector of pharmaceuticals, and is almost 97% self sufficient in pharmaceuticals. To get first-hand experience of this particular sector, the conference participants visited one of the leading pharmaceutical companies of the country; Incepta Pharmaceuticals.
The above factors rendered Bangladesh a special case-study for the IAS and the OIC science community.
The objectives of the 19th IAS Conference thus were: (a) To discuss the key areas of public health and higher education in Bangladesh to draw possible lessons relevant to other OIC countries, while showcasing some of the country’s key S&T sectors; (b) To analyse how science and technology can contribute to addressing real challenges in the domains of water and energy in populous underdeveloped countries, and analyse how linkages between the private sector and the science community in general may be strengthened; and
(c) To review cases where research in the frontier areas of biotechnology and information technology could be transformed into commercial ventures.
The conference which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on Monday 6 May 2013, was preceded on Sunday 5 May 2013, by a ceremony, which was organised on the premises of the Bangladesh University of Health Sciences (BUHS), to honour one of the Founding Fellows of the IAS from Bangladesh: Prof. Mohammad Ibrahim (1911-1989). During the ceremony, Prof. Liaquat Ali, an outstanding Bangladeshi medical researcher, was honoured as the recipient of the 2013 IAS Ibrahim Memorial Award.
The inaugural ceremony of the conference included an address by H E Mrs Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh; a speech by H E Dr Mrs Dipu Moni, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh; an address by H E Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC); the message of Prince El-Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Founding Patron of the IAS, which was read by Dr Adnan Badran; the message of the President of Pakistan, IAS Patron, which was read by Dr M A Mahesar, Assistant Co-ordinator General, COMSTECH; and the opening address of Dr Abdel Salam Majali, former Prime Minister of Jordan and IAS President. The Chairman of the Bangladesh Universities Grants Commission, Prof. A K Azad Chowdhury; and Prof. A A Azad FIAS, IAS Fellow from Bangladesh who was the main local organiser of the event; also spoke during the session which was concluded with some closing remarks by H E Yeafesh Osman, State Minister of Science and Technology, Bangladesh.
The conference was divided into a number of main sessions: Thematic Keynotes, Excellence in Higher Education, Energy for the Future, Public Health, Drugs and Vaccines for the Future, Climate Change and the Environment, Rethinking Sustainable Development, Collaborative Research Case-Studies; as well as a panel discussion which was entitled ‘Way Forward and Funding Strategies for the Future.’