Member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have endorsed several resolutions to enhance science and technology capacity in the Islamic world.
The resolutions were announced at the OIC summit held in Dakar, Senegal, this month (13–14 March). They build on recommendations made in the Makkah declaration of 2005 (see Islamic states urged to follow 10-year science plan).
The resolutions call on the 57 member states to renew their commitment to developing science and technology by dedicating one per cent of their gross domestic product to research and development.
They are asked to invest more in advanced technologies, such as nuclear and nanotechnology, and to improve their integrated information and communication technology infrastructure.
Other resolutions call for a plan of action to reform science educational institutions to promote innovation and research, and to create better networks for scientists, research institutions and technoparks. Pan-OIC technology trade fairs are proposed as a way to improve links between technology, research and industry.
The participation of women in science should also be encouraged through a specific collaborative programme with dedicated resources, the conference recommends.
Hanan Malkawi, director of the UNESCO Chair for Desert Studies and Desertification Control at Yarmouk University in Jordan, told SciDev.Net that, "Since women constitute on average half of the population in any society, then if active [female] scientists and businesswomen in the Islamic world were really supported and empowered and involved, this would lead to an increase in gross domestic product through their input in scientific and technological innovations."
A separate resolution calls for greater interaction between the Muslim media and scientific community to capitalise fully on the role of media in communicating information between policymakers and scientists, as well as raising awareness of science and technology in the general public.
Anwar Nasim, a science adviser to the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) says it is important to focus on how to implement the resolutions, to achieve their desired goals.
Nasim expressed scepticism, pointing out that previous resolutions had still not been fully implemented (see Islamic countries dragging their feet on science plan).