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Nation looks to expand global cooperation to help tackle COVID-19

By ZHANG ZHIHAO | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-09 09:02
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China will expand practical dialogue and cooperation with other countries to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and promote science literacy around the world, officials said during the 2020 World Conference on Science Literacy in Beijing on Tuesday.

On Monday, at a side event of the conference, China established the Preparatory Committee for the World Organization for Science Literacy, in which representatives from 19 countries and regions agreed to work together in creating a new international organization dedicated to enhancing science literacy via communication and cooperation.

The conference is hosted by the China Association for Science and Technology, with support from UNESCO, the International Council of Science, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations and the World Academy of Sciences.

More than 700 representatives from international organizations, universities, research institutions and government agencies attended the meeting, which was themed on promoting public science literacy and supporting the global anti-pandemic effort.

Wan Gang, president of CAST, said during the conference's opening ceremony on Tuesday that China plans to promote the "all-around development of human beings", significantly improve its people's science literacy and continue opening up on a wider, deeper and more diversified scale.

"The law of science is our objective reality, and scientific knowledge is the shared treasure of mankind," he said. "We should uphold the spirit of respecting science and facts and let science, technology and innovation play its leading role in overcoming crisis and achieving sustainable development."

Wang said the comprehensive development of public science literacy has become a key condition for social development, and the social basis for nurturing innovations and talent capable of responding to new risks and challenges.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic rampages across the globe, by tackling the pandemic together, the global scientific community is made aware of the importance of working together to enhance science literacy in order to address these challenges," he said. "We should enhance cooperation and dialogue and jointly promote science and literacy around the globe."

Huai Jinpeng, executive vice-president of CAST, said openness, trust, cooperation and win-win scenarios should be the fundamental principles for the international scientific communities to join hands in paving the future of science literacy.

"We should strengthen mutual learning and communication and promote extensive consultation, joint contributions and shared benefits," he said, adding nations should work together to enhance scientific outreach in developing countries, especially among women, children and the impoverished.

When COVID-19 struck, CAST proactively carried out science outreach initiatives in response to the epidemic and mobilized science societies at national and local levels to provide information, guidance and counseling, Huai said.

"CAST insisted on conducting its actions in a scientific manner and instilled scientific procedures in every step of the public prevention and control efforts, thereby allowing the truth to outrun the lies," he said.

Since the epidemic began, CAST has published over 133,600 articles, as well as 2,876 audio and video clips, popularizing scientific knowledge about COVID-19. They have been viewed and heard over 8.2 billion times and shared over 5 billion times by CAST's local branches.

Ehud Menipaz, founding chair of the Ira Center for Business, Technology and Society at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, said the world needs more integration, globalization and cooperation to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and be prepared for future public health emergencies.

Wang Ting, director of the China Research Institute for Science Popularization, said global scientific communities should enhance dialogue and cooperation, share research data, jointly produce high-quality scientific findings and provide practical solutions to end COVID-19's rampage as soon as possible.

"The collaboration and coordination of the scientific communities from various countries will inject more scientific and technological value into building a community with a shared future for mankind," he said.

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