The 4th meeting of COMSATS Consultative Committee was held virtually on 11th November 2020 under the chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Government of Pakistan. The Committee meeting was attended by 30 country delegates from 19 countries, including Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. The meeting also had the participation from international organizations, including The South Centre, Switzerland; International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Italy; United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Thailand; The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), Italy; and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Pakistan. COMSATS Centres of Excellence in China, Colombia, Egypt, Gambia, Iran, Indonesia, Jordan, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Turkey, as well as ambassadors and diplomats in Islamabad also attended the meeting virtually.
Speaking on the occasion, the Secretary to the Committee and Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. S.M. Junaid Zaidi, remarked that scientific collaboration is an important area for South-South and Triangular cooperation. He encouraged the Member States to use COMSATS’ forum to incubate partnerships and find new and innovative approaches to support and speed up implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In his message read out at the beginning of the event by Dr. Muhammad Tariq Masood, Joint Scientific Adviser at the Ministry of Science and Technology, Pakistan, the Chairperson Consultative Committee highlighted Pakistan, the host country of COMSATS Secretariat, as an ardent supporter of COMSATS’ mandate since inception. Mr. Fawad lauded COMSATS’ efforts for implementing the decision of the previous meeting and urged his counterparts in the 26 other Member States to duly support COMSATS’ operations by all means, especially more regular Annual Membership Contributions.
The Consultative Committee meeting deliberated upon a nine-point agenda. As part of the deliberations, delegates shared their respective countries’ efforts for combating coronavirus that, inter alia, included preparation of vaccines by Egypt, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. The countries expressed willingness to share their resources and expertise with other Member States of COMSATS to aid their countries’ COVID-19 response. H.E. Dr. Intisar Sigheiroun Alezein, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Government of Sudan, suggested creating fund to deal with global crises, such as the on-going pandemic. Chairperson COMSATS Consultative Committee urged COMSATS’ Member States to work collaboratively and pool their indigenous resources for development of vaccine against coronavirus.
The meeting resulted in revitalized commitment from the focal ministries of COMSATS’ Member States for supporting COMSATS. The delegates called for and agreed on having stronger ties among scientists and researchers for solving common development problems; effective cooperation and initiatives at highest levels for emergent situations, such as COVID-19 pandemic; scientific and academic exchanges; as well as developing strategies for addressing issues such as food security and climate change.
Participating countries were appreciative of COMSATS’ role in providing a strong S&T cooperation platform to developing countries and pledged to their best in further strengthening it. The areas identified for cooperation and mutual support included: multilateral research, refugee management, Science Diplomacy training, data science, climate sciences, energy, post-pandemic preparedness, agriculture, biotechnology, food security and nutrition, capacity building, ST&I-led knowledge economy, and SDGs.
The next meeting of COMSATS Consultative Committee is expected to be held in May 2021.