Consultative Meeting of ECO Specialized Agencies on "The Role of Culture, Education and Science in Sustainable Development" held
A Consultation Meeting of the ECO Specialized Agencies on "The Role of Culture, Education and Science in Sustainable Development" was virtually held on 18 January 2021. Presidents of all three Specialized Agencies, i.e., ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) Prof. Manzoor Hussain Soomro, ECO Cultural Institute (ECI) Prof. Sarvar Bakhti and ECO Educational Institute (ECOEI) Prof. M. Akif Kireçci attended the meeting. Deputy Secretary General of ECO for the International Relations Section Dr. Hüseyin Avni Biçakli and ECO Science Foundation President-designate also participated in the meeting.
The meeting was opened by the Deputy Secretary General of ECO. He welcomed the participants and appreciated the initiative of holding joint meeting. He also said that Specialized Agencies have a strong role to implement goals and objectives enshrined in ECO’s Treaty of Izmir and contribute significantly in socio-economic development of the region. The activities of the specialized agencies are crucially important for our region’s sustainable economic growth and meeting the challenges of the modern era. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the regional and global socio-economic trends. It has also enhanced the importance of already well recognized need for mutual cooperation and integrated approach in different fields in order to meet the challenges of the existing situation and post COVID-19 era.
President ECOSF Prof. Soomro, in his remarks, said that all three agencies are important organs of ECO tasked to promote and support activities in the fields of education, science and culture in the member countries. He further shared that ECOSF pursues the goal of promoting research and technological development for sustainable development and economic growth in the ECO region through development of Human Resource capacity for science, technology and innovation as well as science education, strengthening Institutional Capacity, Scientific, Technological and Research Collaboration and Cooperation among its member states and the developed world and exchange/dissemination of Information on S&T Research and Development through workshops, conferences and meetings etc. He emphasized that all three agencies have to work very closely together because science and education go hand in hand and culture plays a major role how we go about different scientific concepts. Thus, the effective partnership is critical to make necessary progress and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in line with the ECO Vision 2025.
Prof. Bakhti, President of ECI said that many years ago, a number of neighboring countries joined together to help each other in achieving progress and development and economic development was the foremost concern of that time; thus, ECO was established. He further said that it is a well-known fact that cultural factors play a key role in sustainable development of a region, so planning for sustainable development should be based on regional culture. But the important point is that if we believe in a holistic integrative concept of sustainable development, all cultural, educational and scientific aspects of development need to be adequately taken into account, therefore, development could be considered a set of organized interrelated activities and the specialized agencies of the ECO are able to address all three dimensions of sustainable development.
Prof. Kirecci, President ECOEI said that although they coordinate with ECOSF and ECI on a regular basis but this meeting marks their solidarity. There are several activities in which ECOEI would be glad to receive ECOSF and ECI’s input. With ECI, ECOEI may work on the activities that aim at promoting education of our common heritage. In ECOEI’s activities on vocational training, arts and crafts of the ECO region could be included. Similarly, ECOSF’s input would also be welcomed. The economic development rests on a capable, skillful and a highly educated society, he added. He highlighted that every dollar invested in education contributes fifteen-fold in economy. Therefore, ECO Educational Institute is firmly committed to support advancement of education in Member States, through supporting experts, educators, institutions and students.
During the meeting, various programmes and initiative of respective agencies were discussed and the following was agreed upon with consensus.
- News coverage of the activities of the specialized agencies by each other on their website and pages on social media
- Joint action plan by the ECO specialized agencies.
- Regular meetings of Presidents of the ECO specialized agencies.