29th Meeting of ECO Regional Planning Council (RPC) held in Tehran, Iran December 17-20, 2018

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The 29th Meeting of the Regional Planning Council (RPC) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was held at ECO Secretariat in Tehran, Iran on 17-20 December 2018. The Meeting was attended by the delegations of all the 10 Member States, the Observers and as well as by the ECO Specialized Agencies, Regional Institutions and Affiliated Bodies.

In the opening session, the ECO Secretary General H.E. Ambassador Dr. Hadi Soleimanpour in his opening remarks, welcomed the ECO Member States, Observers and Specialized Agencies, Institutions & Affiliated Bodies to the 29th RPC Meeting in Tehran. The ECO Secretary General highlighted the significance and role of RPC as an effective platform to deliberate on the important issues and provide recommendations to address various challenges in the region. He urged the Member States to actively contribute to the meeting and provide strategic inputs for developing meaningful projects for the ECO region in order to realize the ECO Vision 2025.

As per the usual practice, the Chair of RPC meeting is elected form the Member State which holds the Chair of Council of Ministers (COM). As the current Chair of COM is held by Tajikistan, thus, the Ambassador of Tajikistan to IR Iran H.E. Ambassador Nematullo Emomzoda was elected as the Chairman of 29th RPC. In his opening statement, H.E. Emomzoda called for adopting collective ECO regional efforts to address the challenges for upholding peace, stability and prosperity and economic development to achieve the ECO vision 2025 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the ECO region.

In the opening session, the Chairman invited the Heads of Delegation of the ECO Member States to make their statements, highlighting policies, programmes and activities of the Organization at national, regional and global levels, including the progress achieved on implementation of the decisions taken since the last meeting of the RPC. The Heads of delegation of the ECO Specialized Agencies, Regional Institutions and Affiliated Bodies also delivered their statements, elaborating activities and progress achieved since last RPC Meeting. On behalf of ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF), Engr. Khalil Raza Scientific Officer ECOSF participated in the meeting; he was later on joined by Prof. Syed Komail Tayebi the Executive Director (Designate) of ECOSF.

Engr. Khalil Raza read the statement of President ECOSF Prof. Dr. Manzoor H. Soomro, who could not join the RPC meeting. In his statement, President ECOSF conveyed the Council of the continued efforts undertaken by the Foundation to promote Science, Technology and Innovation in the region. He congratulated H.E. Dr. Ambassador Hadi Soleimanpour on his appointment as the new Secretary General of ECO. Prof. Soomro’s statement stressed that ECO region can only achieve global competitiveness, if it is ensured that the region has qualified and capable human resource to contribute to socio-economic development in the region.

ECOSF President’s statement shared that despite financial and logistic difficulties; the Foundation undertook numerous important scientific activities during 2018. It appraised the Forum that the Capacity Building Program on "Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE)" that was launched in Astana-Kazakhstan in 2015 is making significant progress with holding of various capacity building workshops in Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Iran. It further reported that ECOSF hosted the International Forum on Science Education in collaboration with InterAcademy Partnership Science Education Programme (IAP SEP) in Islamabad, April 2018. The International Forum was themed; “Quality Science Education at Schools- A Must for Quality Higher Education and Economic Development”. Prof. Soomro in his statement informed the RPC that ECOSF is continuing to seek global partnerships to promote STI in the region. The Council was informed that ECOSF sent 78 teenage students and teachers to Beijing from six Member States in 2017 and 2018 under MoU signed with Children and Youth Science Center (CYSC) of China Association for Science & Technology (CAST) under the One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative. The Council was assured that the Foundation will continue to strive for promotion of science education through IBSE pedagogy for advancement of S&T and science education at all levels in the ECO region.

Subsequently, various Sectoral Committees formulated on trade, investment, transport, energy, environment, agricultural, industry, statistics & human development and International Relations discussed the adopted agenda. The Sectoral Committees thoroughly discussed the ongoing programmes and projects as well as the areas of future cooperation. Prof. Sayed Komail Tayebi and Engr. Khalil Raza actively participated and contributed to the Committee of International Relations where the issues and matters relating to ECO Specialized Agencies including ECOSF, Regional Institutions and Affiliated Bodies were discussed in details. Engr. Khalil Raza also contributed to the meeting of committees of Human Resource and Sustainable Development, Agriculture, Industry and Tourism.  The outcomes of the Sectorial Committee meetings converged in the Closing Plenary on 20 December; wherein, the final RPC report was presented and adopted with consensus.

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