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Islamic nations adopt ambitious science plan

A body representing most of the Muslim world adopted a science plan on 11 September that seeks to make science a “cherished goal” of its members.

The plan admits that despite an economic boom in some Islamic countries, “a true scientific culture is conspicuous by its absence”. It wants science funding to increase “at all levels”.

The plan was adopted at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s first science and technology summit, which took place in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 10-11 September.

Twenty-seven of the OIC’s 57 member countries are in Africa. Most are in the north and west of the continent, though Uganda and Mozambique are also members.

The ‘OIC STI Agenda 2026’ sets out a number of targets for members to achieve by 2025. These include doubling spending on scientific infrastructure in poorer nations and a target of 2 per cent of GDP for richer ones.

The plan also tasks members with doubling scientific output in the next 10 years, and doubling the number of researchers. It recommends that four ground-based telescopes and one synchrotron light source be constructed in the bloc.

Universities in IOC countries will be expected to claim at least 50 of the Top 500 spots in international rankings by 2024, and work to improve the mobility of university staff and researchers.

Member states committed to the “development, review and implementation of STI policies, programmes and action plans” at a regional as well as national level. They also committed to implementing the plan through joint funding programmes and increasing investment in research and universities.

“The document proposes a mechanism for building collective competence in a wide array of themes ranging from water, food and agriculture to energy, the basic and applied sciences, and large multinational projects,” it states.

The plan tasks member states with setting up national gene banks that will share resources with other members. It also urges members to invest in high-performance computing, fuel cell research, neglected tropical diseases, and pharmaceutical research.