CAREC Institute Contributes to Discussions of the International Young Scientists Forum

8 Jul 2023

On July 8, the CAREC Institute, represented by Director Mr. Kabir Jurazoda, Deputy Director One Dr. Huang Jingjing, and Senior Research Specialist Dr. Asif Razzaq, took part in the 2023 International Young Scientists Forum on Ecology and Resource Sustainable Development of Silk Road in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China. The forum was organized by the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography of the Chinese Academy of Science and aimed to promote the establishment of both the Innovation Base of the International Sciences Academy of Silk Road and the Central Asian Young Scientists Association.

During his welcoming speech, Mr. Kabir Jurazoda noted that sustainable economic development is at the forefront of the CAREC Program and CAREC Institute and is a key component of the CAREC 2030 strategic outlook. All CAREC member countries work together to address regional development challenges through enhanced and effective regional cooperation. On this front, the CAREC Institute, as the knowledge arm of the CAREC Program of the Asian Development Bank, provides innovative knowledge support in collaboration with international and national stakeholders. The CAREC Institute hosts many activities related to regional sustainable economic development such as policy dialogues, evidence-based research, capacity-building, knowledge-sharing, and networking and partnership with renowned think tanks and academia. “Knowledge sharing and collaboration across borders become increasingly vital as countries pursue sustainable development goals, and the CAREC Institute will continue to play an important role as a knowledge connector, taking advantage of Xinjiang’s location as the core zone of the Silk Road Economic Belt, accelerating the enhancement of scientific and technological innovation capabilities, deepening open cooperation and promoting the common prosperity and development of CAREC countries,” said Mr. Kabir Jurazoda.

During the concurrent roundtable discussion on “Inclusive Digitalization and Digital Divide in CAREC Region,” Dr. Asif Razzaq presented the results of a recent study of the CAREC Institute “Digital CAREC: Analysis of the Regional Digital Gap,” highlighting the current state of digitalization in the region, the progress made and the persisting gaps. He discussed the factors contributing to the digital divide, including socioeconomic disparities, gender inequality, rural-urban divide, and infrastructure limitations. The roundtable also delved into the policy and regulatory frameworks necessary to promote inclusive digitalization, focusing on the importance of public-private partnerships and cross-sector collaboration. Infrastructure development emerged as a key topic of discussion, with participants emphasizing the need to expand broadband connectivity, particularly in underserved areas.

Dr. Asif Razzaq stressed the importance of estimating the cumulative digital divide considering cost and affordability, access and infrastructure, Internet quality, digital security, regulations, digital FDI, and ICT output. He shared that Kazakhstan and Georgia are the least digitally divided countries, while Azerbaijan and Mongolia are moderately divided in the digital spectrum, whereas Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, and Tajikistan are the least performing economies, confirming a higher digital divide and highlighting the need for inclusive digitalization practices. Dr. Asif Razzaq mentioned the potential of regional cooperation to improve infrastructure, such as the establishment of shared cross-border fiber optic networks and the harmonization of regulations.

Digital skills and education were another crucial aspect of the conversation, as participants recognized the importance of equipping individuals with the necessary knowledge and abilities to fully participate in the digital economy. Dr. Asif Razzaq stressed the need for comprehensive digital literacy programs and emphasized the importance of bridging the gender gap in digital skills.

The roundtable also highlighted successful initiatives and best practices from other regions that have tackled similar challenges, underscoring the importance of international cooperation and knowledge sharing in addressing the digital divide.

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