President and the Vice Presidents of the 14th Governing Council
Secretary, Ministry of Technology, Sri Lanka
Director General of NAM S & T Centre
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a pleasure to address the 15th Governing Council meeting of the Non-aligned and Other Developing Countries for Science and Technology, with representation from 47 member countries spread over the African, Asian and European continents and Latin American countries to promote South-South cooperation in science and technology.
From the date of inception, I am sure many member states had benefitted by the activities of the NAM S & T Centre. This Centre, as I am made to understand, has so far progressed through various interventions including promotion of mutually beneficial collaboration among member countries and establishing links with national and regional science and technology centres for scientific advancement.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the NAM S & T Centre in India for the continuous and sustainable operation of this inter-governmental institutional mechanism from 1989, offering meaningful contributions to the S & T community across borders.
Science and technology-based planning is what was used to build and transform the world. Indeed, technology provides answers to many of the challenges that are taking place in this dynamic world. Current COVID-19 pandemic and the development of different types of vaccines in record time with adequate clinical trials is a living example to show the important role that could be played by science and technology in human life.
It is well known that we face major challenges in introducing new technologies due to high capital investment. Similarly, there is heavy competition developing countries have to face. As a result, our own inventions do not progress much. My government, therefore, has established a separate Ministry for Technology under my purview to introduce new technologies in all feasible sectors enabling us to increase our market share in the global economy.
Exchanging technologies, through a centre of this nature would be a strategic approach to minimize our capital investment in introducing new technologies. Sri Lanka has currently embarked on introducing a scientific approach and technological advancements in major economic sectors such as Information and Communication Technology, agriculture, plantations, and fisheries. We are more than happy to collaborate with other member countries in sharing our best practices in these sectors.
Nevertheless, a country to become a technology-based economy, it is important that local and indigenous technologies are integrated with high-end technologies. Sri Lanka has a proud history of indigenous and traditional technologies that are environmentally friendly. This would further elevate the level of cooperation between member countries specially in introducing and developing new industrial start-ups in several fields including herbal and food technology so as to address issues in pandemic situations.
The entire world is now moving towards developing strategies and plans to overcome the adverse impacts caused by COVID-19. Sri Lanka is no exception. Fortunately, Sri Lanka has a strong health system to handle pandemics and we also observe that the recent pandemic has presented a greater opportunity for the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) sector, especially to showcase the abilities of researchers, scientists and inventors in meeting immediate needs of health sector.
In this context, the NAM S & T centre could play a greater role in identifying common interests of member countries and create a collaborative mechanism that will be beneficial to all. I propose that the NAM S & T centre expands its scope to accommodate new thinking in line with current requirements of member countries.
I would also like to make a special request to all delegates to consider deliberating how best we can collaborate in reaching our sustainable development goals within this pandemic situation, particularly in the area of climate change since our focus has shifted due to the recent pandemic.
Finally, realizing the mandate of the NAM S & T centre is our collective responsibility, and it is incumbent upon us to continue the operation of this inter-governmental mechanism and I assure you that Sri Lanka is committed to collaborate in all aspects that are mutually beneficial.
I wish all success to the 15th Governing Council Meeting.