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A Way Forward for South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation

On 27 September 2013, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, His Excellency Mr Mohd Zulkifi Mohammed, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Malaysia to UNESCO, and Dato’ Dr Lee Yee Cheong, the Chairman of the Governing Board of the International Centre for South-South Cooperation in Science Technology and Innovation (ISTIC), participated in the Return Home to UNESCO conference held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.

The International Centre for South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation (ISTIC) Return Home to UNESCO Conference, organized jointly by ISTIC, the Permanent Delegation of Malaysia to UNESCO and UNESCO on 27 September, comes at a curial time when developing national capacities to foster sustainable science, technology and innovation policies is more important than ever. The Conference was an opportunity for ISTIC to share its activities in South-South Cooperation and showcase its success stories to other Member States and discuss and exchange ideas on future activities.

On this occasion, the Director-General delivered a speech commending ISTIC on its activities, noting that ISTIC, as a Category II centre under the auspices of UNESCO, provides a valuable contribution to UNESCO’s two global priorities, Africa and Gender Equality, and works to embed UNESCO’s programme to promote STI national development strategies in the South.

'The Centre has become a key player in assisting STI policy formulation and review, mobilizing intellectual resources and highlighting best practices from the South…' noted Ms Bokova. 'I believe this is essential work, in a world where the role of science for sustainable development is increasing, at a time when the map of science is changing quickly. We are seeing the rise of a more multi-polar and inter-connected world of science. This is creating a more competitive environment and opening vast opportunities for collaboration. At the same time, disparities remain deep, between countries and within them. The place of women in science is still far too low. Least Developed Countries contribute only marginally to global science – and they still derive marginal benefits from its development. At the same time, actors in the South are moving to the front of the international stage -- thanks to the transfer of technology, thanks also to home-grown innovative solutions.'

The conference also convened a Roundtable Panel to discuss the future for ISTIC and its strategy for the next five years. The panel was moderated by Dr El Tayeb Mustafa, President of Future University, and consisted of the Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences Sector, Dr Gretchen Kalonji; Dr Omar Adb Rahman, Former Science Advisor to Malaysia’s Former Prime Minister; Dato’ Dr Samsudin Tugiman, Director of ISTIC; Professor Yves Quere, co-founder of La Foundation la Main à la Pâte; Dato’ Dr Sharifah Maimunah, Former Ambassador/Permanent of Malaysia to UNESCO; Professor Crispus Kiamba, Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (Kenya); and Professor Manzoor Soomro, President, ECO Science Foundation.

The Conference also included the official signing of an Agreement between ISTIC and La Main à la Pâte Foundation. The Agreement is to provide a framework for the management and operation of the English version of La Main à la Pâte’s website. The Foundation aims to renew and expand science teaching in school with a 'hands on' approach. Its action focuses on supporting and training teachers in science, and the website provides valuable resources, class projects and class activities. The English version of the website was inaugurated in May, on the occasion of ISTIC’s fifth anniversary.

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