Pakistan: Director-General Highlights Science-Policy-Sustainable Development Nexus
Irina Bokova signed an agreement in the presence of the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Zahid Hamid, to establish a UNESCO Chair on Knowledge Systems for Integrated Water Resources Management.
From flood forecasting to water management and South-South cooperation, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova covered a range of scientific issues during her official visit to Pakistan on 6 and 7 February.
At the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) in Islamabad, she viewed the results of a project supported by UNESCO following the massive flooding in 2010. Encompassing a model to improve flood hazard mapping, a platform for data sharing, training in remote-sensing and a media centre for audio and video forecasting, the project has strengthened the warning and management capacity of Pakistan, according to PMD’s Director Mr Arif Mahmood, who urged the project’s extension.
UNESCO also supported software modeling to anticipate the arrival time of tsunamis and training in procedures to disseminate information to all stakeholders within 8 minutes. The Director-General expressed pride in the cooperation and stressed the importance of building strong linkages between science and policy so that research findings form the basis for evidence-based decisions.
Visiting the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Irina Bokova signed an agreement in the presence of the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Zahid Hamid, to establish a UNESCO Chair on Knowledge Systems for Integrated Water Resources Management. The Chair will develop teaching programmes and training modules in this area, and provide a platform for collaboration, learning and exchange.
COMSAT – the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South, has a membership of 21 developing countries and facilitates cooperation among research scientists. She also visited COMSTECH, comprised by 57 countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which builds scientific capacity through research grants, training courses, science policy reviews and networking.
Noting that both organizations share a common agenda with UNESCO, the Director-General emphasized that, in the new post-2015 agenda, science, technology and innovation should be recognized as an enabler of development, with partnerships being a key to progress.
At the National University of Science and Technology, Ms Bokova drew bridges between science, sustainable development and the fostering of a culture of peace. “Pakistan is blessed with immense natural resources, and we need the power of science and technology to make the most of these assets for the benefit of all,” she told a full hall of students.
Affirming that Pakistan has all the potential to become a global scientific hub, she called for better access of women to science, greater cooperation and knowledge sharing to bridge disparities.
More fundamentally, she said, “just as nation-building is more than laying roads and constructing dams – education, fundamentally, is about values. You are the leaders in strengthening society, in rejecting all forms of extremism, in countering prejudice and discrimination.”