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Address delivered during FORUM III

by H.E. Dr Abdulaziz Othman ALTWAIJRI
Director-General, Islamic Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO)

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The World Conference on Science constitutes an event of paramount importance for the entire mankind, particularly at the current juncture, as we stand on the threshold of an era that will witness outstanding accomplishments. Taken to its apogee, the industrial era has opened new vistas of technological innovations and creativity, which brought about changes in all walks of life. Advances in biotechnology research, for instance, have opened new prospects for the mankind. Likewise, the developments triggered by the information and communication technologies have turned the world into a global village, and created the so called "knowledge society". Our meeting intends, therefore, to chart our march towards the new millennium, which is only some two hundred days away. We will also examine ways and means to take up the looming civilizational challenges, and deliberate on the accomplishments made so far. The aim is to give substance to our aspirations, hopes and projects through laying emphasis on the necessity to harness scientific and technological capacities to the best interest of mankind so as to enhance knowledge, spread understanding, affirm peace, and foster development for the well-being of humanity in the present as well as future times.

The scientific and technological capacities built this far have made it possible to promote living standards and achieve further prosperity for our peoples. Certainly, innovations in such fields as genetic engineering, biomedical sciences, renewable resources and information and communication technologies have alleviated to a great extent the human sufferings. Yet, a number of challenges of global dimensions are still in the offing, which mandates the pooling of efforts and the coordination of actions within the framework of active cooperation.

One of the imbalances characterizing our modern society lies in the fact that the assistance programs, regional and international alike, have fallen short of upgrading scientific performance in the developing countries. These countries still suffer from the weakness of public institutions, which are no longer capable of ensuring the required measure of stability. Furthermore their educational and training facilities are not apt to forge a qualified manpower of any international standard, let alone a nucleus of scientific staff of international caliber. The situation is further compounded by the inadequate scientific research capacities, which does not augur well for the harnessing of endogenous natural resources, the production of new technologies and the fulfillment of the needs of an ever increasing population. As a result their economic and social conditions will go on exacerbating, leading to thorny problems and crises.

The only efficient means likely to alleviate the suffering of developing countries lies in extending to them such assistance as would enable them to achieve the greatest measure of scientific and technological progress through knitting close ties of technical and financial cooperation between them and developed countries as well as the competent international agencies. These ties have to focus on the transfer of scientific knowledge and expertise, the opening of sustainable development avenues before them, the extension of further financial resources, in addition to ensuring optimal planning in their projects through updating the scientific and technological development efforts as a matter of top priority, then setting forth the objectives, and allocating sufficient financial resources on the basis of national commitments to proceed in this direction.

The vast scientific knowledge thus accumulated has made it possible to turn this planet into a global village that may well become an auspicious haven pervaded by symbiosis. In this context, the environmental issues have to figure on the forefront of the priorities set in the agenda of the next millennium. The aim must be the achievement of a more balanced scientific development worldwide. Now, it is high time to announce a program dedicated to "Development for the elimination of disparities among humans". It will be a timely step, the more so because the scientific progress has provided us with numerous opportunity for bridging gaps among societies indeed within societies themselves. We are duty-bound to address development from the perspective of balance, and to endeavor to settle disputes and conflicts among all our societies in order to achieve a lasting peace that is vital for the flourishing of human life on earth.

This is the very civilization mission that we are pursuing at this stage in the history of mankind. We have to muster our efforts and cooperate to fulfil such a noble mission on the basis of common commitment to the law, justice and equity, guided by the values of human fraternity and the principles of a science that serves humanitarian objectives.

Thank you and I wish your Conference full success.

Wassalamu alaikum warahmatu wabarakatuh


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