“The timing of this meeting could not have been more apt,” said OIC Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Mohamed Naem Khan. “It comes at a time when the world in general and the OIC Member States in particular are grappling with formidable challenges such as extreme poverty, disease, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, environmental degradation and climate change. The role of science, technology and innovation in addressing such challenges cannot be overemphasized,” he said.
Coordinator General of COMSTECH, Dr. Shaukat Hameed, briefed the meeting on the activities of COMSTECH since the last meeting in 2011 and on the status of science in Muslim world. He stressed on the need to exchange expertise and knowledge and pointed to the huge untapped potential of research and innovation in the member states.
Currently, OIC Member States spent 0.81% of their GDP on R&D on average, which is quite lower than the EU average of 1.87% and the world average of 2.22% as well as the targeted rate of 1% as implied by the OIC Ten-Year Program of Action of 2005-2015.
As for the availability of highly qualified researchers, OIC Member Countries, on average, have 615 researchers per million people, which is well behind the world average of 1604 per million people. It is also short of the target set by Vision 1441H of 1441 researchers per million by the year 2020 (1441 Hijri).
On the other hand, OIC member countries as a whole published 108,821 scientific articles, which represents more than four-fold increase compared to 20,242 articles published in 2000. Nevertheless, the total amount reached is still below those of some individual countries.
COMSTECH is the Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the OIC established by the Third Islamic Summit of OIC held at Makkah, Saudi Arabia in January 1981. The President of Pakistan is Chairman of COMSTECH. The core mandate of COMSTECH is to strengthen cooperation among OIC Member States in science and technology (S&T), enhance their capabilities through training in emerging areas, undertake follow-up-actions and implementation of the resolutions of the OIC, and to draw up programs and submit proposals designed to increase the capability of the Muslim countries in science and technology (S&T). The ultimate aim is to build and nourish a scientific culture in addition to using S&T as a major contributor to socio-economic development and rapid industrialization.
The Executive Committee of COMSTECH consists of the following state members: Azerbaijan, Iran, Jordan, Niger, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.