Conclave proposes to bring together the innovative young minds from SCO Member States on to a common platform in virtual mode to discuss issues like, 'ways and means to bring in transformative changes to address the societal challenges' through scientific and technological interventions. This will also facilitate confluence of ideas to resolve problems specific to Member States. Thus, the Conclave aims to seed a SCO scientific identity through the establishment of a network of young talents across these Member States.
Agriculture and food processing
Agriculture and food processing are the predominant sectors in the overall economic development of the SCO countries. It is considered as the most extensive private enterprise, sustaining millions of farm families and engaging more than 50 per cent of the workforce. This sector has also been well recognized for alleviating poverty, hunger and malnutrition, and inclusive economic development. The conclave will focus on agrarian innovations, new opportunities for accelerating gains in productivity, profitability, sustainability, equity, and inclusivity. Advancement in agricultural and food processing embrace the green to gene revolution, genetic resources management and utilization, speed breeding, omics and bioinformatics, natural resources management, bio-rational disease and pest management, climate-smart agriculture, hi-tech horticulture, mechanization, micro-irrigation, precision agriculture, sensor technology, robotics, drones, big data management, artificial intelligence, digital technology, post-harvest management and processing, farmer-market linkage, international trade, price realization, crop insurance etc. Considerable opportunities for scaling up and out the promising technologies developed for extending the gains such as use of hybrid technology, biotechnology and omics, conservation agriculture, diversification to high-value horticultural crops, expanding crops to newer/ non-traditional areas, farm mechanization, precision farming, improving soil health and reversing soil degradation, enhancing nutrient and water use efficiency, generation of bioenergy and biofuel production, ICT for knowledge empowerment, etc. The convergence of agriculture, engineering and digital technologies would further revolutionize future agriculture. Agriculture and Food Processing have been introduced as a thematic area for this conclave to deliberate, foster and proliferate ground-breaking ideas for probable future alliances amid the SCO member states.
Sustainable energy and energy storage
The sustainable energy systems are novel anthropogenic innovations conceived with the major goals to provide clean, reasonable, and accessible energy with a benign impact on the environment. The need to preserve the environment while parallelly powering the present and future is of utmost precedence today, which can be achieved by sustainable energy systems and storage mechanisms. Such innovations can balance the three pillars of sustainability: economic viability, environmental protection, and social equity. Consequently overall benefits like encroachment in technologies, resource conservation, higher employment opportunities, improvement in the health and medical facilities, self-sustainability and increased standard of living are most likely. From a broader perspective, Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) in this domain through mega-projects within SCO member states can directly benefit from the economic standpoint. Alternatively, sharing knowledge at SCO common platform can ignite the SCO young minds to find a way-out to materialize and operate sustainable energy systems and storage possibilities employing local process inputs and human resources rooting towards the judicious 'Vocal for Local' notion. R&D in this direction can contribute to subjugate Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Global Warming, which are unanimously the high priority concerns worldwide. Besides, development and awareness of state-of-art energy storage systems/devices play a central role in enabling a consistent power source for sustainable energy and livelihood. Storage systems including but not limited to thermal/mechanical systems/ pumped hydropower are imperative to deliver continual access to high-quality energy facilities for all entities, security of energy supplies in the short- medium- and long-term, facilitate a transition to a more sustainable energy future and to introduce renewable energy sources to reduce health and environmental impacts. Sustainable energy and energy storage theme will promote research and innovation in this promising domain and to be able to fulfill the pressing need of SCO member states for affordable and clean energy services.
Biotechnology and Bioengineering
Biotechnology and bioengineering are one of the keys enabling technologies for long term sustainable development, particularly in terms of economic growth, environmental protection and public health. Advancements in this sector resulted far-reaching applications in several areas, including agriculture, livestock, human health, preservation of the environment, and bioprocess industries. Contributions of Biotechnology in health care and agro industries is worth mentioning, biotech drugs helped millions of people battling with life-threatening diseases. Similarly, genetically modified and biotech crops offer improved yields, longer shelf life, enhanced nutritional value, and resistance to drought, or insect pests while reducing the heavy consumption of water and energy. Industrial biotechnology offers lot of opportunities to the world to produce clean energy thereby reducing the dependence of fossil fuels and ensure cleaner environment. Innovation in biotechnology and bioengineering especially stem cell technology, CRISPR and CAR-T cell therapy will revolutionize the health care sector will help humankind to lead much longer healthier life. With the growing demand for a sustainable livelihood, Biotech companies leveraging Artificial intelligence and Machine learning techniques to further advance their goals and take effective and efficient decisions, this in turn helps firms to cut significant cost and time. To facilitate circular economy, biotechnology offers a holistic approach to design materials for improved lifecycle outcomes, compostability and enable a circular flow of materials. With this modern and all-inclusive perceptive of bio-based business in the back-drop, biotechnology and bioengineering have been introduced as a thematic area for this conclave to nurture and propagate innovative ideas for possible future collaboration amongst the SCO member states.
Combating COVID-19 and emerging pandemics through research and innovation
The world is in disarray and distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the multitude regimes are unsuccessful to arbitrate the enormity of the difficulty and are unable to combat the pandemic timely. The current scenario reflects that the preparedness for such a pandemic is weak, consequently the possibility to include additional reserves and deploy the newest comeback technologies is highly unlikely. This contagion has prompted an unusual claim for dwindling resources, certainly there is a need to adopt all the emerging technologies and innovations to combat this pandemic by way of, tracking for the infection, large scale screening of population, effective quarantine facilities, development of vaccines, prioritizing the use and allocation of resources, and targeted response designing. Industry 4.0 referred to as the 4th industrial revolution has emerged in terms of digital transformation and process automation, in line with this modern transition it is imperative that the medical sector incorporates the evolving and encouraging tactics and executes Medicine 4.0. The time has arrived that the superior aid from the scientific innovations and digital services such as artificial intelligence, big data, molecular biology, cloud computing, blockchain technology, additive manufacturing, 5G, and many more of such technologies be integrated and implemented among the SCO members states through multilateral agreements. This conclave can be a common ground to dissipate knowledge on the protocols for efficient monitoring of the epidemic, virus tracking, prevention, control, treatment, resource allocation, and vaccine development. The involuntary digitalization imposed by indispensable social distancing can be a boon to accelerate the digital transformation and knowledge sharing on COVID 19 and allied research domains amongst the SCO members, this virtual conclave by itself is an illustration in this context. With the COVID-19 catastrophe redesigning economies and public policies worldwide, it is critical that SCO member states use this minute to assess and formulate the practicalities for a sturdy, sustained and socially comprehensive retort through inter-state collaboration, scientific progression and novelty, without de-linking from the Sustainable development goals (SDGs). This theme can pave the way towards building a safer today and a promising tomorrow by setting a 'new normal' to redeem life.
Environmental protection and natural resource management
Environmental protection and natural resource management are the basic principles for the overall development and sustainability of any nation in the world. The prudent use and conservation of natural resources such as water, land, soil, plants, and animals touch a multitude of industries, from agriculture and mining to tourism, fishing, and forestry. The prominence of this research domain is vast as it directly deals with ecosystem and sustainability studies including but not limited to pollution, flooding, biodiversity conservation, nuclear energy, drought, coastal restoration, and the mission to mitigate the potential adverse effects of mismanagement. This allied field of science is apt to comprehend the reciprocal interactions that exist between the reactions occurring in the environment that are linked with the natural element cycle and at the same time reflect both natural processes and human impacts. It also encompasses socio-economic and technical issues at the global, national, regional and local levels in the framework of sustainable development. Management of the innate resources sustainably is obligatory for avoiding further destruction and degradation, to decipher the water balance inconvenience and to advance national economy as well as living standards. The effective natural resource management amidst the SCO nations is possible upon achieving the milestones of improved resource governance and sustainability, amplified responsibility, increased involvement of the SCO members in the cross-border R&D projects to resolve the common environmental and resource management disputes by tactical mechanism. This approach can reduce competition for resources and promote sustainable livelihood among the SCO members. Suitable environmental protection laws, revealing the authorized norms for the protection of the environment, by means of envisioning undesirable ramifications on nature are prerequisite to safeguard the environment and the mankind. This thematic area aims to promote research alliance in all the aspects of environment and natural resources protection amongst the SCO member states.