The 16th general conference and 30th general meeting of The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries kicked off in virtual format on Monday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
Running from Monday to Thursday, the biennial event gathers leading scientists, young scholars from developing countries, Nobel laureates and ministers of science and technology, among others, to discuss the latest scientific research, innovations in science policy and the future plans for the academy. About 800 participants are attending the event.
It is the second time that the event has taken place online, according to academy President Mohamed A. Hassan.
"Despite the considerable challenges that we face, the future of science and sustainable development in the global South continues to hold a good deal of hope," he said.
Established in 1983 in Trieste, Italy, the academy is a unit of UNESCO committed to supporting scientific excellence for sustainable development in the developing world in the form of grants, fellowships and other means.
A message from UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay was delivered by Qu Xing, deputy director-general.
"Science is omnipresent and ubiquitous, from the food we eat, to the phones in our pockets. It is a driver for development, needed everywhere all the time, and everyone has the right to benefit from it. For this reason, science should know no borders, no boundaries," the message said.
This year's event, hosted by Hangzhou-based Zhejiang University, was organized in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the China Association for Science and Technology.
"As a leading university in China, ZJU has been working hard to foster the development of basic sciences. During this process, collaboration and dialogue with multiple stakeholders have been key approaches," said Ren Shaobo, chairman of the University Council of Zhejiang University, which marked its 125th anniversary in May.
"I sincerely hope this conference will further strengthen cooperation between China and the academy in the field of basic sciences and beyond to address the mounting challenges we face today."
Themed "Basic Sciences for Evidence-Based Decision-Making and Sustainable Development in the Global South", the 16th general conference seeks to highlight the strong link between basic sciences and the United Nations' Agenda 2030 in developing countries. The UN General Assembly has designated 2022 as the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development.
"We admire the academy's persistent efforts to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially by calling attention to basic research via its 16th general conference," said Zhang Yuzhuo, secretary-general and vice-president of CAST. "The China Association for Science and Technology shares the same view and will spare no effort to achieve SDGs in working toward a scientific community worldwide that features openness, trust and cooperation."