The IUCr-UNESCO Summit Meetings bring together scientists from countries in widely separated parts of the world, using a common crystallographic theme. There is a real necessity for scientists to think beyond political borders and other distinctions. Therefore the Summit Meetings, attended by scientists from academia and industry, and by science administrators, are planned between countries that have hitherto been divided on the basis of geography, ethnicity, religion and politics. These meetings focus on high-level science but also highlight the difficulties and problems of conducting competitive scientific research in different parts of the developing world.
April saw the first in the series of IUCr-UNESCO Summit Meetings, held in Karachi, Pakistan, April 28–30, 2014. The International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) became the home to scientists and dignitaries from 19 countries (including India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Yemen). The President of the IUCr, Gautam R. Desiraju, the Editor-in-Chief of IUCr Journals, Samar S. Hasnain, and the Executive Secretary, Michael H. Dacombe, represented the IUCr, and Ahmed Fahmi represented UNESCO.
Entitled Vistas in Structural Chemistry, the South Asia Summit Meeting brought everyone together under the umbrella of chemical crystallography and pharmaceutical sciences. There were scientific sessions on Metal–Organic Framework Compounds, Crystal Engineering and Generic Pharmaceuticals, the Chemistry–Biology Interface and Drug Discovery and Design, Crystallography and Complementary Methods, and the Union and its Journals. The Plenary Lecture was given by Atta-ur-Rahman: Promotion of Higher Education, Science and Technology and International Cooperation in Pakistan. Panel discussions played a useful and informative part of the various sessions. The closing session focused on the way forward for regional cooperation, training centres, funding and how the IUCr and UNESCO could help with these goals.
An important outcome was The Summit Declaration, which was an Appeal to the IUCr to initiate actions to promote regional scientific collaboration; this was signed by over 50 of the participants.
The ICCBS formed an excellent venue for the event and the hosts made everyone very welcome – the organization was excellent. Dinner at Port Grand and the Gala Dinner were highlights of the evening activities. Particular thanks go to Professor Atta-ur-Rahman, Professor Iqbal Choudhary and Dr Sammer Yousuf.
The Summit meeting was followed by an OpenLab at the same location so that participants were able to meet renowned structural chemists and crystallographers.Michael H. Dacombe, IUCr Executive Secretary