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OECD science ministers' meeting opens in Daejeon

A meeting of science ministers from member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development began in this central South Korean city Tuesday to discuss ways to promote sustainable economic growth and pursue solutions to global challenges.  

The OECD Ministerial Meeting Daejeon 2015, which runs through Wednesday, brings together some 270 representatives from 57 countries and 12 international organizations, including science ministers from the nations. Delegates from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were also invited.

This year's gathering marks the first meeting to be held outside Paris, where the OECD is headquartered, since the inaugural event in 1963.

Dignitaries present at the opening include South Korean President Park Geun-hye, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria and South Korean Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Choi Yang-hee.

In a congratulatory message, Park said her signature creative economy vision, which calls for boosting the economy through science and technology, should serve as a new growth paradigm for the world economy.

"South Korea has been pushing the creative economy policy by applying science technologies on individuals' creative ideas and merging various industries to create new markets and job opportunities," Park said. "I am confident it will help boost the vitality of the South Korean and world economies."

The global economy is suffering a prolonged slowdown, with a low-growth trend now being referred to as the new normal, which is hard to solve with existing methods and paradigms, she said.

"We need an aggressive innovation based on technology and creativity," Park said. "Creative human resources and key technologies are now more important than any other resources or capital."

Park stressed that although it is inevitable for countries to battle to gain the upper ground in new technologies, they should also seek cooperation and expand the global market together.

"I hope the Daejeon Declaration, to be adopted at the end of the meeting, will serve as a new milestone in technological innovation that will bring strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth and future," she said.

Gurria also shared the vision to make science more inclusive on the global level.

"The theme, creating our common future through science and technology cannot be more intuitive," Gurria said, highlighting that technology now plays a greater role than in the past as the global economy is facing slowed growth and productivity.

Gurria added countries must prepare to face the three big changes in the world, namely digitalization of science, emergence of new players from Asia and the growing need for international cooperation.

In an opening speech, Minister Choi expressed hope that the representatives will be able to come up with measures to make the world a better place through scientific cooperation.

"I hope that countries will share their experiences to establish an ecosystem of innovation and put forward proposals for a better future of the world through cooperation," he said.

The ministerial meeting is divided into two major sessions, with one discussing "effective ways to promote innovation in science technology," and the other touching on the issue of "utilizing science technologies to tackle global challenges."

Wrapping up the two-day meeting, the science ministers will announce a joint communique, called the Daejeon Declaration, which will sum up achievements of the OECD gathering.

The ministry said the upcoming declaration will likely focus on finding "strong, sustainable and inclusive" global growth through science and technology.

The ministerial meeting is the main event of the global science summit, which kicked off on Monday in Daejeon, a city packed with science institutes 164 kilometers south of Seoul, for a five-day run. (Yonhap)

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