The Director General UNESCO, Dr. Irina Bokova, has pledged support to COMSATS for activities related to science, technology and innovation, which she considered pivotal for the future development frameworks. She expressed these views on February 6, 2014, during the signing ceremony of an agreement to establish UNESCO Chair on ‘Knowledge Systems for Integrated Water Resources Management’ at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) Wah Campus, Wah, Pakistan.
The purpose of the Chair shall be to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation on water resources management, facilitating high-level international collaboration for researchers and teaching staff of the university and other institutions in Pakistan with those in other parts of the world. The establishment of the UNESCO Chair is a milestone in the history of CIIT since it can now be ranked among a select group of institutions focusing on water resources management.
Held at the Ministry of Science and Technology, Islamabad, the ceremony was presided over by the honourable Minister for Science and Technology, Government of Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Zahid Hamid. Dr. Bokova, and the Rector CIIT, Dr. S.M. Junaid Zaidi, signed the agreement on behalf of their organizations, during the ceremony witnessed by the State Minister for Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education, Mr. M. Baligh-ur-Rehman; Federal Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology, Mr. Kamran Ali Qureshi; Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. Imtinan Elahi Qureshi; Resident Director UNESCO to Pakistan, Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata; Secretary-General Pakistan National Commission for UNESCO, Ms. Amna Imran Khan; as well as other high officials of the Ministry and affiliated departments; UNESCO; COMSATS Secretariat; and CIIT.
At the outset of the ceremony, the Minister welcomed Dr. Bokova and briefly highlighted the role of his Ministry in promoting science and technology in the country and introduced its various departments and sections. Acquainting the D.G. UNESCO with the mandate, role and responsibilities of his Ministry, his Excellency viewed the recently adopted National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (2012) of Pakistan as a step in the right direction for national development. The Ministry’s recent initiatives on enhancing technical cooperative activities were also recounted. His Excellency stated that his Ministry endeavours to enhance all sorts of cooperation and collaboration with UNESCO in every field through its affiliated scientific and academic institutions.
In his brief remarks on the occasion, the Executive Director COMSATS expressed his organization’s desire to have long-term partnership with UNESCO based on synergy and complementarity. While introducing COMSATS as a high level international forum, he noted that COMSATS advocates S&T related South-South Cooperation as means for achieving socio-economic development. He informed that COMSATS has an international Network of 18 S&T Centres of Excellence, including a full-fledged university, CIIT, giving the organization leverage for its S&T-led development activities.
Dr. Qureshi recalled his recent visit to UNESCO Headquarters, Paris (November 2013), in connection with the 37th Session of General Conference, and meeting with the UNESCO Assistant Secretary General for Natural Sciences, Prof. Gretchen Kalonji. It was informed that Prof. Kalonji had endorsed having stronger ties with COMSATS and recognized its important role as an inter-governmental organization. Dr. Qureshi requested Dr. Bokova to duly consider concluding a cooperation agreement with COMSATS, a draft of which, he noted, had been submitted to UNESCO earlier.
Sharing her views on the occasion, Dr. Bokova reiterated UNESCO’s pledge to work with the Government of Pakistan to elevate the level of knowledge and expertise in the country. UNESCO supports initiatives that aim at S&T advocacy, knowledge-sharing and excellence in higher education, she said and considered the signing of the agreement, which entails the establishment of the Chair at CIIT Wah Campus as a testimony of the importance UNESCO gives to Science, Technology and Innovation for development.
Acknowledging COMSATS’ efforts for South-South cooperation for sustainable development, she endorsed the Executive Director COMSATS’ views on more cooperation between UNESCO and COMSATS for achieving the common objective.
After the signing ceremony, the Executive Director COMSATS presented COMSATS’ shield to the Director General UNESCO. Two publications, ‘COMSATS-UNESCO Cooperation Programme (2006-2013)’ and ‘COMSATS-UNESCO Future Cooperation’, were also presented.