How the Islamic world can reclaim its role in science

40a7c088bdedcff90f02f96eba35c093Naeem Khan writes:

It is no secret that Muslim-majority countries have lagged behind much of the world in scientific and technological progress for far too long. On average, they spend less than 0.5 per cent of their GDP (gross domestic product) on research and development, compared with five times that in developed economies.

There has been important progress. The last decade or so has seen major investments by several OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) countries in education and scientific infrastructure.

Three years ago, the OIC, which I help lead, partnered with the Royal Society to conduct the first major analysis of the science deficit facing the Islamic world. The report found that OIC countries account for just 2.4 per cent of global research expenditure, 1.6 per cent of patents and 6 per cent of scientific publications, despite holding nearly a quarter of the world’s population.

The social, economic and security implications of this are staggering. It means that the Muslim world is not investing enough in the core scientific and technological tools to generate solutions for newly emerging threats from climate change, water scarcity and food insecurity. Several studies have also shown a link between the outbreak of conflict and how climate change affects drought and food prices.

That is why this week (September 10-11), the OIC held its first Science and Technology Summit, with heads of state and government ministers from 56 Muslim nations.

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