Summit delegates included the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, amongst other Heads of State. The summit was organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the world’s second largest intergovernmental body after the UN.
The summit concluded with all 56 nations adopting two historic documents;
(i) The Astana Declaration on enhancing “science, technology, innovation and modernization in the Islamic world”:
The Astana Declaration “reaffirmed the commitment of member states towards increasing investment in education, science, health and water in order to achieve the goals of the OIC’s 2025: Plan of Action and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030).”
The declaration also called on “all Muslim world countries to strengthen the culture of education and science, especially for youth and women as a means of enhancing social and economic modernization and socio-economic progress.”
The full declaration can be accessed here.
(ii) The OIC Science, Technology and Innovations Agenda 2026:
The OIC STI Agenda 2026 was also approved by all member states. The document is composed of a series of policy commitments and recommendations designed to achieve key Islamic world development goals by the year 2026. The agenda’s focus on education is as follows:
(f) Filling the Education, Research and Skills gap:
· Increase the share of Member States in global scientific output (publications and patents) by 100% in the next ten years.
· Double the number of R&D workers per million population in OIC member states.
· Increase the share of high technology goods and services in the economies and trade of Member States, aiming for 10% by 2025.
· Aim for at least 50 universities for inclusion among the top 500 universities according to recent international ranking by 2025.
· Attain a target of minimum 20% enrolment in technical / vocational education among the 15-19-year age group.
· Promote networking and linkages within OIC and with leading world universities for research partnerships, sharing of knowledge, experience and best practices.
(h) Enhancing knowledge transfer through Intra-OIC Cooperation
· Address lack of mobility among faculty and researchers in OIC countries by expanding the OIC’s Educational Exchange Programme to promote exchange of students, faculty and researchers. The OIC Exchange Programme may be named the Al Haytham Programme after the Muslim scientist Ibn Al Haytham, regarded as the father of modern optics.
Implementation of the aforementioned policies will be in consultation with the member states, all relevant OIC institutions and organs and global partners.
The OIC Assistant Secretary General for Science and Technology (and former Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia), Ambassador Naeem Khan, said “the world’s Muslim majority countries, by supporting ambitious scientific and technological development goals, are also supporting the welfare of the Islamic world.”
“As more people in the Islamic world emerge out of poverty, energy demand is increasing. This is being aggravated by climate change, with many OIC countries inhabiting climate-sensitive regions already facing desertification and degradation of land and water. Several studies have also shown a link between climate change and the subsequent effect on drought, food prices and the outbreak of conflict.”
Rather than seeing science as an alien doctrine that threatens Islamic traditions, the Islamic world must re-orient its perspective by reclaiming science as part of its own heritage. – Ambassador Naeem Khan
“As a result, the OIC organised the first Islamic-world science and technology summit to galvanise the Muslim world in investing in the core scientific and technological tools to generate solutions against emerging development threats”.
The OIC Secretary General, HE Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, said “Islam lays special importance on seeking knowledge. The Quran’s first injunction was to ‘Read’. References are frequently made in the Quran to those who reflect and contemplate. And over a thousand years ago, algebra, astronomy, geography, medicine and industrial chemistry were all pioneered across the Islamic world for nearly half a millennium. That is precisely why part of the inspiration behind the OIC’s first ever Science and Technology summit was Islam’s own ‘golden age’ of science.”
“Rather than seeing science as an alien doctrine that threatens Islamic traditions, the Islamic world must re-orient its perspective by reclaiming science as part of its own heritage.”