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    ISESCO calls for holding an international forum to develop strategy for promoting humanitarian situation

    9 December 2019

    **Dr. AlMalik: The countries of the Islamic world have boundless potentials, which promise a brighter future on the condition that they are well invested.

    **ISESCO works on facilitating social integration and developing Islamic solidarity values

    The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, called for holding an international forum at ISESCO’s headquarters in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco, in 2020, with the participation of the regional and international organizations and civil society bodies concerned with social development in order to develop a holistic strategy for promoting the humanitarian and social situation, and helping ISESCO Member States honor their commitments to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030.

    This came in Dr. AlMalik’s address at the opening session of the First Islamic Ministerial Conference on Social Development, which kicked off today, in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey, in the presence of H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, under the theme “Ensuring Social Equality and Prosperity for All in Member States: Opportunities and Challenges”.

    At the outset of his address, ISESCO Director General noted that the theme of the conference contains “equality” and “prosperity”, which reflect two key goals of the SDGs 2030. “This raises the following questions: What is the degree of progress our countries have made since 2015 to fulfill their commitments regarding the Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), after nearly a third of the period ahead of 2030? What urgent strategies and measures should we take to speed up the pace of progress?”, Dr. AlMalik said.

    He also wondered how should Muslim countries make up for lagging behind developed countries at a time when the countries of the Islamic world allocate a mere 0.4% of their gross domestic product for scientific research and development in a world that has witnessed the growth of invention patents in cutting-edge technologies and artificial intelligence over the last twenty five years by 1000%?.

    He added that world states, including the Muslim ones, committed themselves to achieve the fourth SDG on education. “Yet, more than 64 million children are out of school in these countries for social and economic reasons, and illiteracy rate stands at 40% of the population, of which 65% are girls and women. Underage marriage in our Islamic world is also a sad phenomenon, a painful reality and a key factor of the girls’ social isolation and for their prevention from pursuing their education”, the Director General further explained.

    Moreover, Dr. AlMalik stated that the nations of the world also committed themselves to achieve the first and second SDGs on the elimination of poverty and hunger. Yet again, he maintained, utter poverty is still prevalent in the Islamic world with 16% of the population living on less than two dollars a day; and there are no near-term prospects for a shrink of hunger levels in many regions of Africa and West Asia where malnutrition has reached 12% of the population.

    Likewise, ISESCO director general warned that in a world where the intensity of conflicts, natural disasters, immigration waves and displacement is not abating, and in view of the report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), on 4 December 2019, nearly 168 million people all over the world will require humanitarian assistance and protection in 2020, the highest figure to be recorded in decades.

    Dr. AlMalik also stated that faced with these conditions and circumstances, the countries of the Islamic world have boundless potentials, which promise a brighter future for its children and for the coming generations on the condition that they are well invested. “One of these potentials is the young forces and the high rate of children and youth in its demographic fabric, the hidden talents that require to be discovered and encouraged, and the high technical and scientific competencies either inside our countries or in the diasporas which can strongly contribute to the localization of advanced technology and scientific research in our countries”, he maintained.

    Furthermore, the Director General underscored that the current situation, whose features and aspects are unfolding through facts and figures, not only requires Muslim countries to pay  further attention and make stronger commitment, but also motivates them to gear their action towards finding effective and viable solutions to the humanitarian and social issues. “Therefore, we should all assume our responsibilities in achieving the social development for our peoples based on a holistic human rights approach that considers poverty, illiteracy, educational deprivation, all forms of social exclusion, malnutrition, water shortage, poor sanitation and environmental aggressions as flagrant violations of human rights”, Dr. AlMalik stressed.

    Against this backdrop, the Director General stated that ISESCO has developed a new vision through which it seeks to become a beacon of global outreach to anticipate the issues of human development and focus on the elimination of poverty, counter extremism and hate speech; a vision that is centered on the human being; one that respects the environment, preserves the dignity of all and treats all people on equal footing.

    He also maintained that under this vision, ISESCO renews its commitment to better support its Member States through developing a special system with indicators for measuring social development in the countries of the Islamic world; analyzing the disparities between them; monitoring the social transformations; preparing a comprehensive strategy for combatting poverty to contribute to sustainable social development and to promote peace for humanity as a whole; and supporting education that values diversity, arts and sports in order to build inclusive societies for all.

    “While we praise and appreciate the efforts exerted by our Member States in the field of social development, we reaffirm ISESCO’s commitment to facilitate and promote, through a Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) approach, the socio-economic integration of the vulnerable grassroots communities and develop the Islamic values of solidarity and entrepreneurship”, the Director General announced.

    Dr. AlMalik also stressed that the Conference resolutions should  focus on meeting the actual needs of Muslim communities; building bridges of cooperation with leading international organizations operating in development and humanitarian action to create synergies and complementarity in our actions; adopting an integrated approach for fighting poverty, extremism and terrorism; and fostering further harmony and efficiency to ensure a steady improvement of people’s life standards and an equitable participation to achieve prosperity for all.

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