Following the signing ceremony of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and first Working Group meeting held at the UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, the Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. I. E. Qureshi held meetings with senior UNESCO officials in which he discussed the on-going and future activities to be undertaken by COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) in cooperation with UNESCO.
In his meeting held on March 18, 2015, with Dr. Siegfried Demuth, Chief Hydrological Systems and Climate Change, Division of Water Sciences, Natural Sciences Sector, UNESCO, the Executive Director gave a brief introduction of CIIT, its various campuses, faculties and a list of activities that the Institute has undertaken in cooperation with UNESCO.
The Executive Director discussed the way forward on the establishment of Category-II Regional Water Research Centre (RWRC) at CIIT Abbottabad Campus, which has already been endorsed by the Inter-governmental Council of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP).
During the discussion, Dr. Demuth shared that UNESCO has approved the process leading up to feasibility study of Category-II centre, and suggested that CIIT needs to complete the necessary paper work, which includes an agreement and preparing a feasibility report for onward submission to UNESCO by June 2015. In this regard, Dr. Demuth shared a model agreement document that shall help in drafting the agreement between COMSATS and UNESCO regarding the management and governance structures of the Category-II RWRC. Moreover, Dr. Demuth shared that the feasibility study of the Category-II center will be carried out with the support of UNESCO’s designated experts based in South Asia Office. A dossier which shall include the feasibility study along with the signed agreement may be submitted to the session of the Executive Board preceding the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, proposed to be held in October 2015.
The Executive Director appreciated Dr. Demuth’s suggestions and informed him of the role and mandate of Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Pakistan, in facilitating the feasibility study as well as support for the establishment of the Category-II RWRC. He further made a commitment to discuss various clauses of the required governmental agreement with the Ministry’s officials before the visit of UNESCO’s expert, so that the final documents could be prepared well in time.
In his meeting with Mr. Kishore Rao, Director, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, on March 19, 2015, the Executive Director COMSATS briefed him about CIIT’s Faculty of Architecture and Design; the significance of the proximity of CIIT’s campuses to the national heritage sites of Pakistan; and the Institute’s valuable contributions for conserving the cultural heritage of Pakistan. The Executive Director shared the details of the existing agreement between CIIT and UNESCO office in Islamabad for heritage conservation, and discussed a proposal to establish Grand-Trunk Museum at CIIT’s Wah campus as a collaborative project between CIIT and UNESCO. Moreover, the Executive Director discussed the on-going collaborations with the Finnish Museums Association (FMA) and Museums Association of Pakistan (MAP) for setting up a Heritage Centre at Sahiwal and a museum at Wah campus. The Executive Director emphasized that due to its location, the CIIT Sahiwal campus is best suited to collaborate with UNESCO in preserving the archaeological sites of Harappa.
Mr. Rao appreciated COMSATS and CIIT’s educational activities and initiatives on heritage conservation, and assured UNESCO’s full cooperation for CIIT’s on-going and planned activities. He added that COMSATS should continue to work closely with the UNESCO Office in Islamabad, and collaborate with the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for Asia and the Pacific Region (WHITR-AP), Shanghai, China. He expressed his willingness to facilitate the visit of a heritage expert WHITR-AP.
At the end of the meeting, the Executive Director COMSATS presented Mr. Rao a set of Pakistani currency notes, which depict pictures of Mohenjo-Daro, Badshahi Mosque (‘Emperor’s Mosque’ in Lahore city), and Quaid-i-Azam Residency (in Ziarat city). The meeting ended on a note of optimism for stronger cooperative ties between COMSATS and UNESCO in areas related to heritage conservation.