The IAS 16th Conference in Kazan PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 08 May 2011 16:39

 

The Palestine Academy for Science and Technology, in its capacity as a member of NASIC, participated in the Islamic World Academy of Science (IAS) 16th Conference. The Conference was held in Kazan, capital of the autonomous Republic of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation, between 25-28 August 2008, under the patronage of His Excellency Mr. Mintimer Shaimiev, President of the Republic of Tatarstan.

 The conference addressed the theme of Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development in the Islamic World: Politics and Policies Rapprochement.
The conference, which was held in the Kazan Korston hotel, was an open international scientific activity in which over 130 participants representing over 25 countries took part. Among the participants were the representatives of over 20 academies of sciences from around the world including the American, French and Russian academies of sciences; as well as the majority of academies of sciences in the OIC.
Alongside the conference, the IAS and the UNESCO organized a special symposium at Kazan State University regarding the ‘History of Islamic Science, Technology and Innovation.’ 
The 17th Meeting of the General Assembly of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences as well as the 32nd and 33rd Meetings of the IAS Council were also arranged in conjunction with the conference, that was jointly organized by the following organizations:

  • Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS), Amman, Jordan;

  • Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, Kazan, Tatarstan; and

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris, France.

    It was sponsored by the following organizations:

  • Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia;

  • OIC Ministerial Committee on Scientific and Technological Co-operation (COMSTECH), Islamabad, Pakistan;

  • OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), Vienna, Austria;

  • Perdana Leadership Foundation, Putrajaya, Malaysia;

  • Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia;

  • Fouad Alghanim & Sons Group of Companies, Safat, Kuwait;

  • Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia;

  • Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Rabat, Morocco;

  • Arab Potash Company, Amman, Jordan;

  • World Islamic Call Society, Tripoli, Libya; and

  • Royal Jordanien Airlines, Amman, Jordan.

    The inaugural session of the conference was held at the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences Building in Kazan. The chief guest was the President of the Republic of Tatarstan; Mintimer Shaimiev, who delivered his speech at the start of proceedings. It was followed by the speech of the President of the IAS and the messages of the two IAS Patrons; H E the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and H R H Prince El-Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan. The inaugural session of the conference concluded with the award ceremony in which newly elected Fellows of the IAS received their Certificates of Fellowship from the President of the Republic of Tatarstan, which was followed with the President of Tatarstan receiving his Certificate of Honorary Fellowship of the IAS from the President of the IAS. 

    The first day of the conference included keynotes by Prof. R. I. Nigmatullin, Director of the P. P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who presented a paper entitled Ecology and Energy: Myths, Reality and Prospects; followed by Prof. A. H. Zakri FIAS, Director of the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies in Japan who presented a policy paper entitled Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development; in addition to Prof. Maria da Graca Carvalho, Director General, Bureau of European Policy Advisers of the European Commission, who presented an overview paper on Europe of Knowledge: The Knowledge Society and the Role of Universities.

    Two further keynotes were also presented on the first day of the conference; The Kyoto Protocol: The Pros and Cons which was presented by Prof. Mikhail Zalikhanov, Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Sustainable Development in the Russian State Duma; in addition to Sustainable Development: A Global Imperative, which was presented by Prof. Michael Clegg, Foreign Secretary of the US National Academy of Sciences and a regular participant in the IAS Conferences.
    The first day also included the Ibrahim Memorial Award Lecture entitled “Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy” which was delivered by the Award Laureate of 2007; Dr Mohammad Al-Qattan, who is an outstanding plastic surgeon from Saudi Arabia and of course the lecture pertained to his main field of research. 
    The second day of the conference included a special session on nanotechnology in which presentations were made by speakers from Russia, including Prof. Salambek Khadzhiev, Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences and former Minister of Petroleum Industries in the former Soviet Union; as well as speakers from Iran and Tatarstan.
    The IAS has long realized that the relationship between scientists and journalists remains difficult, sometimes even hostile. There are complaints on both sides - scientists doubt the ability of journalists to report accurately and responsibly regarding their work, while journalists complain that scientists are bad communicators, hiding behind argot. It was principally for this reason that a special session was arranged on the second day of the conference in which a number of science journalists, including representatives of the World Federation of Sciences Journalists (WFSJ), presented short communications on how they thought science and the scientific endeavor were perceived by the media. The main conclusion drawn from the session was that the scientists who used the media effectively saw advantages in having a media presence for themselves, their projects, and their research organizations. The media, it was reiterated, was an effective means to popularize science, reach research funders, bureaucrats, and other scientists around the world.
    The ‘Role and Functions of Academies of Sciences’ was the theme chosen by the conference organizing committee for an exciting session which was organized in the afternoon of the second day where representatives of no less than ten academies of sciences from around the world including the French, American, Malaysian, Pakistani, Palestinian, Tatarstan, and Romanian presented short overviews of their academies and their respective outlooks for the future.
    The main objective of this session was to compare the different models of academies of sciences that exist worldwide; the Soviet style academy of sciences, the Anglo-Saxon model as well as the international or the global model as classified by the InterAcademy Panel; which includes the Islamic World Academy of Sciences and TWAS.

    A major objective of the specialized symposium which was organized by the IAS in collaboration with UNESCO and the Kazan State University on the third day of the conference, aimed to address the issue of why the Islamic civilization – which enjoyed almost five centuries of scientific superiority – did not undergo a European type of renaissance. This issue was addressed at this special symposium by a number of world-class speakers who represented a number of schools of thought and included; George Saliba, Mehdi Golshani, Charles Falco and Mazhar Qurashi. The symposium was chaired by a good friend of the IAS; Academician Dato Ir Lee Yee Cheong, who has been the force behind this series of ISSTI (International Islamic STI) Symposia, with IAS Fellow Prof. Shamsher Ali.

    At the conclusion of the three-day conference, which also included a number of side-meetings and site visits, the IAS adopted the IAS 2008 Kazan Declaration on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development in the Islamic World: Policies and Politics Rapprochement.
    The declaration stressed that Islam promotes a balance between all living creatures and their life-sustaining environment and that realizing prosperity and socioeconomic advancement is at the core of the Islamic governance philosophy. It further emphasized that some Organizations of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and developing countries have developed a vision that links their future to their STI development, while others have not given due priority to this issue.
    The declaration emphasized that science and technology are not exogenous factors that determine a society's evolution independently from its historical, social, political, cultural, or religious backgrounds. They are the tool within the reach of humanity for the fulfillment of human needs while maintaining the quality of the natural environment indefinitely, i.e. the means to master that socioecological process that has been defined as 'Sustainable Development'.

    The significant obstacles to science and technology in OIC-Countries were again highlighted in the declaration, including; lack or inadequacy of up-to-date STI policies, lack or inadequacy of resources, infrastructure and institutions; and gender imbalance in science and technology. Steps to facilitate the transfer of resources to enhance domestic capacity building in developing economies were called for.

    The declaration urged the international community to support opportunities for developing countries to grow in a way that reinforces environmental protection and social development by increasing their market access, especially in sectors where sustainable development is likely to benefit from economic liberalization. 

    The IAS Kazan Declaration moreover called on the international community to again address climate change describing it as an urgent challenge that requires international cooperation to achieve the mitigation levels envisaged under the Kyoto protocol.

    The declaration acknowledged that the media has a significant role to play in promoting science and technology. Scientists need to communicate with the general public, policy-makers, and the media while scientific institutes need to open communication lines with the outside world. It called upon universities in the OIC countries to examine the possibility of teaching science communication as a specialized discipline while science conferences and seminars need to engage more with journalists and the media.
    On the topic of the ‘History of Islamic Science,’ the declaration recognized that historians of science have propagated a number of theories related to the rise and possible decline of Islamic science. 

    A need to revisit this issue has risen not only to highlight the contribution that the Islamic civilization has made to world civilizations, but also to learn about the deep rooted underlying reasons for this decline in order to learn from the lessons of the past, as well as promote harmony between cultures and peoples in today’s tension-ridden world, the declaration reiterated. 

    The IAS 2008 Kazan Declaration pronounced that it was imperative that interest of the OIC science community, and ultimately the public, is rejuvenated in what has become known as the accepted narrative of the ‘Rise and Decline of Islamic Science,' and perhaps to question what has been described as the classical narrative including some theories related to the subject.

    Furthermore, the IAS, in the declaration, expressed its deep concern for the safety and well-being of all Iraqi scientists, academics and educationalists both inside and outside Iraq.

    As part of the follow-up action to the conference, the Academy will circulate the IAS 2008 Kazan Declaration to concerned individuals and relevant agencies throughout the OIC and developing countries, so that measures are taken to put into action the ideas proposed at the conference.
    The Academy will also publish the complete proceedings of the conference in a quality volume that will be internationally distributed. 

    Through IAS Fellows, personal contact and correspondence, the IAS will promote the concepts promulgated at the conference among the decision making circles of the Islamic world, and will provide whatever help it can to get the various recommendations implemented.

     

 

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