S&T Priority Areas for Research Funding identified by ECO Science Foundation to Promote Innovation and Economic Growth in ECO Region - 28-29 December 2015
Science and technology (S&T) have undergone considerable changes over the past 30 years. In addition to focus on funding for basic research to support knowledge generation, providing the research facilities and creating instruments for supporting research organizations for innovation, the recent focus is on achieving greater research efficiency and more intensive transfer of knowledge by means of establishing networks involving research and business. Thus the main goal of the S&T is shifting towards the formation of an effective innovation system for covering the entire sector of generation, transfer and application of knowledge.
Priority-setting processes are critical in aligning research funding with national /regional needs and in identifying the research questions necessary to fill knowledge gaps. Priority areas set the general trends of the S&T development. They represent the S&T areas capable of providing new technologies and facilities to contribute to the development of country's economy and social sphere. These priorities specify foundation for making decisions on concentrating public resources in the most important areas of science, technologies and innovations and for commissioning the available scientific and technological potential.
Investment in S&T research is considered as a key driver for technopreneurship and economic development. Thus, identifying research priorities is vital, since it informs the decision makers for effectively targeting issues that have the greatest potential for public benefit. As such, the process of setting research priorities is of pivotal importance for favouring the science, technology, and innovation (STI)-driven development of low- and middle-income countries.
Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Science Foundation (ECOSF), a Specialized Agency of the ECO for promotion of Science and Technology leading to economic development in ten ECO countries including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. The ECOSF has taken the lead in setting the priority research agenda in the region and organized a two days Meeting of Eminent Scientists/Experts of ECO Member States on 28-29 December 2015 at Islamabad-Pakistan to Prioritize Focus Areas of Research for Funding under its “S&T Fund”.
The main objective of the meeting was to ascertain the strengths and ongoing activities of scientific institutions in ECO Member States and to prioritize the focus areas of research for funding under S&T Fund of ECOSF. Some 17 participants from ECO Member Countries contributed in the meeting.
The meeting was opened by the President ECO Science Foundation Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro. He welcomed the distinguished participants from member countries and made a presentation on the programmes, activities, brief highlights of achievements and future plans of ECOSF.
Afterwards presentations were made by the Country Representatives highlighting the S&T activities in their countries along with their Priorities Research Areas. Subsequently a moderated brain storming session was conducted to finalize the priority research areas in line with the UN sustainable goals (SDGs).
A presentation on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was also made by a UNDP officer for awareness and capacity building of participants to link their research and academic activities with the 17 SDGs set for 2016-2030.
As an outcome of the meeting of eminent scientists and Facilitated Workshop Exercise, the following Regional Priority Research Areas were finalized to Promote Innovation and Economic Growth in ECO Region.
- Clean/ Renewable Energy and Natural Resource of Energy in ECO Region
- Applied/ Basic Sciences:
- Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and Seismology
- Water use efficiency, water pollution and recycling
- Space Industry:
- Food Security:
- Agriculture, Food & Food Security
- Climate Change:
- Global Warming, Environment, Nature, Climatology/Climate Change assessment and mitigation, Ecosystems Sustainability, Fossil Fuels use efficiency, Earth Sciences and Environment Friendly Industrialization
- Gerontology &Cognitive Science and Health.
- Natural Resource Management (NRM): Mining, Exploration of Resources, Industries & Mines, Transportation and Construction, Alternative exploration Methods & Technologies):
The ICT and Advanced Research Infrastructure Network, S&T Education, Gender, Knowledge sharing mechanism, Education online and Policy Research were agreed as overarching areas to be considered in every research project to be funded by the foundation.
The Federal Secretary for Ministry of Science and Technology Mr. Fazal Abbas Maken hosted a dinner for the delegates of the meeting; wherein numerous heads of S&T Organizations and Diplomats from ECO countries were also present. On the occasion, the outcome of the meeting was shared by the President ECOSF with the Secretary and the diplomats. In his remarks, Mr. Maken welcomed the guests and appreciated the dynamic leadership of ECO Science Foundation and considered the meeting a good start that S&T Research Priority Areas have been determined; which are very much in-line with the priorities of the Government of Pakistan and should also address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets. He assured full cooperation and support of his Ministry for the ECOSF.
It is pertinent to mention that ECOSF has established a "S&T Fund" for financing collaborative research among the 10 ECO member states. The modalities of this "S&T Fund" have been approved by the ECO Council of Foreign Ministers (COM), however the member states have yet to contribute finances to the Fund.
The ECO Science Foundation through its "S&T Fund" and in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has a great potential to pursue the S&T based economic development in the region. This initiative becomes even more important and strategic in the wake of China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor and the China's "one belt one road". Thus the Government of Pakistan through the Ministry of Science & Technology and Planning Commission should support ECOSF initiative.