UNESCO Workshop on “Science and Knowledge for Advancing the 2030 SDGs in the Arab Region”

UNESCO Workshop on Science and Knowledge for Advancing the 2030 SDGs in the Arab Region

Eng. Zainab AlGarashi, Chair of WFEO Committee on Young Engineers / Future Leaders (YEFL) was invited to attend a workshop organized by UNESCO Bureau for Science for the Arab States under the theme “Science and Knowledge for Advancing the 2030 SDGs in the Arab Region”, (25-26 May, 2016) in Cairo, Egypt.

The main objective of the workshop was to formulate a joint vision and outline a master plan for the effective activation and deployment of science and knowledge for achieving the SDGs in the Arab region. More specifically, the workshop aimed to identify major issues, challenges and opportunities as well as major responsibilities of stakeholders including the potential role of UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science in the Arab States (UCO) in advancing the Science/Knowledge and SDG agenda in the Arab region.

The workshop gathered 30 selected regional experts from 10 Arab Countries and consisted of a series of roundtable interactive discussions exploring the regional perspectives on Science, Knowledge & the SDGs with emphasis on key related issues including the Science/Knowledge – Development Nexus, STI/SDGs Nexus, as well as governance of Science and Knowledge Strategies.

The opening session included a welcoming address by Mr. Ghaith Fariz, Director of UNESCO Cairo Office where he highlighted the role of science and knowledge in enabling Arab States to make the most of the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the 2030 Agenda.

UNESCO Workshop on Science and Knowledge for Advancing the 2030 SDGs in the Arab Region

Participants in one of the Roundtables

To streamline discussions, each of the round tables started with a brief thematic presentation along with a set of suggested questions aiming to define challenges and opportunities to enhance the role of science and knowledge in achieving the sustainable development goals in the Arab region. The participant thoroughly discussed the above topics and recommended specific actions that may be classified along the following SDG relevant axes:

  • I. Science/knowledge, the gateway for achieving the SDGs
  • II. STI-SDG Nexus
  • III. Science/Knowledge Economy NEXUS
  • IV. Science/Knowledge, Society and Education/Language NEXUS
  • V. Science/Knowledge and Pressing Environmental Challenges
  • VI. Science/Knowledge and regional and international cooperation

The Arab Region enters the 21st century while facing social, economic, and environmental challenges. The list of challenges extends to include rapidly growing population, rapid urbanization, increasing social and economic inequalities, weak participatory governance, climate change, water scarcity, and indeed a significant science/knowledge gap.

Workshop Outcome: The Arab Network for Knowledge and Sustainable Development

Taking into consideration the comprehensive discussions during the 5 roundtables; the complexity of mainstreaming science and knowledge into strategies, policies and plans; and the essential need to identify, formulate, and undertake coordinated actions concerning many of the recommendations and findings of the workshop; the participants made a unanimous decision to launch the “Arab Network for Knowledge and Sustainable Development”.

While the founding nucleus of the network consists of the participating experts in their individual and/or institutional capacities, the network will be an open network that will include individuals, entities, and organizations including NGOs who are concerned with Science and Knowledge, education, and the promotion of science/knowledge -sustainable development interface.

Functions of the Network

1. Act as a regional platform for exchange of knowledge and information on “science/knowledge for sustainable development”

2. A platform for fostering and facilitating partnerships and resource mobilization for joint action on deployment of Science and Knowledge for achieving the SDGs. This includes:

  • Conceptualization and formularization of joint programmes, projects, and activities involving 2 or more entities/agencies.
  • Presenting/submitting actionable joint projects and activities to partners, donors and funding agencies.
  • Joint implementation (or coordinated) of projects, activities and programmes of 2 or more entities/agencies.

The network will be coordinated by UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in the Arab States who will serve as the secretariat for the network. The Secretariat will propose, within a reasonable time frame, to the members of the network a communication plan that makes use of modern communication platforms.

The founding members of the Arab Network for Knowledge and Sustainable Development discussed several potential projects based on the recommendations of the workshops’ roundtables. These include:

  • Transfer and localization of technologies: Formulation of joint projects on Water desalination and reuse (in irrigation) using solar energy
  • Language in science/knowledge: Regional project “Writing and translation for Children” focusing on promoting science and knowledge values
  • Science-SDG Monitoring of evaluation: Establishment of an Arab Observatory for Sustainable Development Indicators. Establishment of an STI platform/portal
  • Science-SDG Awareness: Economic value of sciences and SDGs: Assessment of the economic losses stemming from lack of use of science and knowledge in SDG related endeavors.
  • Awareness campaign on Sciences in the SDGs: A regional campaign to raise societal awareness on SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. Targeting Arab youth and utilizing Social media
  • Capacity building particularly for the youth: supporting national and regional efforts to enhance capacities and engagement of the youth in science and technology transfer and localization.

UNESCO Workshop on Science and Knowledge for Advancing the 2030 SDGs in the Arab Region

From right to left: Zainab AlGarashi and members of the organizing team


For more information:

UNESCO Workshop on Science and Knowledge for Advancing the 2030 SDGs in the Arab Region  UNESCO webpage about the Workshop

UNESCO Office in Cairo website  UNESCO Office in Cairo website

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