HEC & China to Set up Joint Research Centre in Earth Sciences  

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) organised a consultative meeting on Friday to discuss the establishment of China-Pakistan Joint Research Centre in Earth Sciences in collaboration with Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) at a Pakistani university.

The meeting was presided over by Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC and attended by HEC senior management, representatives of Ministry of Science and Technology, Quaid-e-Azam University, University of Peshawar, and various other universities as well as Dr. Yonnggong GE, Vice Director Science and Technology Division, China, Mr. Su Iijun, Professor at Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other stakeholders concerned.

During a briefing on the proposed Research Centre, the participants discussed the objectives, cooperation mechanism, and preliminary roadmap of setting up the Centre.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed assured the Chinese delegation from CAS that the Government of Pakistan and HEC will extend all-out cooperation to the Chinese partner in setting up the Centre.

He stressed the need for developing a task force for mutual coordination so as to finalise viability of the Centre. HEC Chairman said that a similar task force needs to be set up from the Chinese side. He said the Centres of Excellence in Pakistan will also be made a part of this endeavour in order to benefit from their experience. Informing that the proposed Centre will be an autonomous entity, he said that the two sides will work on the modalities and share formal documents for practical measures.

The Chairman said that the research Centre will be established in Islamabad, which will benefit the CPEC as a whole, the fields of Earth Sciences and Oceanography, the institutes, universities and other organisations.

In his remarks, Dr. Arshad Ali, Executive Director, HEC emphasised the need for identifying the domains of work between the two sides. He said the details of development cost, infrastructural arrangements, laboratory equipment and infrastructure, and other components of the Centre will be shared through formal document to be finalised in the following meetings.

The China-Pakistan Joint Research Centre in Earth Sciences will work on research content including risk analysis and reduction of natural hazards ensuring the safety of CPEC construction. It will also ensure orderly utilisation of ecological and environmental resources and will promote regional sustainable development to benefit the people along the CPEC.

The Centre will conduct research on issues pertaining to Earth Sciences in the areas adjoining the Himalaya, the Hindu Kush, and Karakorum. It will provide security support for CPEC by developing mitigation principles and technologies on natural hazards, in addition to improving sustainable development of economy, society and environment.

The meeting also deliberated the role of proposed Centre in dealing with key scientific issues including environment data collection, mining under complex topography, climate change, water environment, rational utilisation of water resources, tectonic movement and its effects on resources and hazards, mechanisms of earth surface natural hazards and risk control, and fragile ecosystem and recovery.

The meeting discussed a mechanism for cooperation that will encompass conducting research on earth system science and filling the blank of Earth Science research. It also involves conducting research on marine and earth surface disaster reduction theory along with research on ecological environment protection, mineral resources exploitation, economic development of mountainous areas, and promotion of regional sustainable development.

The Pakistani entities playing a vital role in setting up the Centre are Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform; Higher Education Commission, Pakistan; National University of Science and Technology (NUST); Quaid-i-Azam University; National  Institute of Oceanology; COMSTAS Information University; University of Peshawar; Pakistan Meteorological Department; Geological Survey, Pakistan; Karakorum International University; and, University of Karachi.

The institutes participating from China in establishment of the Centre include Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment; Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research; South China Sea Institute of Oceanology; Institute of Geographic sciences and Natural Resources Research; Institute of Geology and Geophysics; Institute of Atmospheric Physics; Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography; Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics; Qinghai Institute of Salt Lakes; and Northwest Institute of Eco-environment and Resources.

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