In November 2018, the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Jamaica (CASJ: the NAO for IUPAC in Jamaica since 2005) hosted the 21st Conference and Biennial General Meeting of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) in conjunction with The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica. 2018 corresponded to the 30th anniversary of CAS and the 70th anniversary of The UWI. The theme of the conference was: “Science, Technology and Innovation—Vehicles for a Knowledge based Economy.”
Further information on the Conference is available at the CAS website (http://www.caswi.org).
Over 130 contributions (including plenary and invited presentations) were submitted to the Conference; about 20 opted for poster presentation and the others for Oral presentation. The standard of the submissions was excellent as befits a conference celebrating its 21st occurrence. The papers encompassed the work from a wide range of institutions, government and non-government organisations from within Jamaica, the Caribbean region, North and South America, Africa, etc. Topics covered by the ten plenary speakers included modern scientific and technological developments that could be transferred to the Caribbean region for economic development. Specially invited were Richard Catlow, FRS, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, London, England and John Hildebrand, FNAS, Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. During his brief visit to Jamaica, Catlow requested that we arrange an opportunity for him to give a talk to high school students.
In addition a Forum entitled: “Cracking the Code to Gender Disparities in Creating a Knowledge Based Economy: Increasing Female Participation in STEM” was arranged with sponsorship from UNESCO.
The idea of establishing a Caribbean Academy of Sciences (CAS) was informally proposed at the 21st General Assembly Meeting of the International Council of Scientific Unions [ICSU] in Bern, Switzerland 14-19 September 1986. Among the ICSU members supporting the suggestion were: Nobel Laureate Sir John Kendrew, President of ICSU; Mambillikalathil G K Menon, President-Elect of ICSU; Raimundo Villegas, later Chancellor of the Latin American Academy of Sciences; The Swiss Academy of Science; the Third World Academy of Science; the International Foundation for Science; the US National Academy of Science; the Royal Swedish Academy; the African Academy of Sciences; the Israel Academy of Science and the Royal Nepal Academy of Science and Technology.
This idea was followed up by staff of The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago and the Inauguration of CAS took place on 16th and 17th May 1988 at an international seminar on “Science, Development and Society” at the Central Bank Auditorium in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The keynote address was given by William J Whelan of ICSU who represented Professor M G K Menon. Feature addresses were given by Gerald C Lalor who spoke on behalf of the disciplines of Natural Sciences; Harry O Phelps who spoke on behalf of the Engineering Sciences; Rolf Richards who spoke on behalf of the Medical Sciences; Frank Barsotti, a leading regional economist who spoke on behalf of the Social Sciences; Hayden Blades of CARICOM who spoke on behalf of the Agricultural Sciences and Dr C H D Madagza, the representative of President Thomas R Odhiambo of the African Academy of Sciences who spoke on “Some Experiences of the African Academy of Sciences.”
CAS covers the natural, agricultural, medical, engineering and social sciences. Current membership is around 200 members, including scientists from the English-speaking Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Cuba, Guyana and Suriname.
CAS is an independent, non-governmental body aiming to:
- ·provide a forum for interchange among scientists on important issues related to the application of science and technology to development;
- ·serve as a source of advice to regional, governmental and non-governmental organizations in scientific and technology matters;
- ·facilitate cooperation among scientists and promote the coordination and execution of scientific research in all its aspects;
- ·liaise with relevant research organizations and assist in facilitating their mutual interaction; recognize and reward outstanding performance and achievement within the region in the fields of science and technology;
- ·raise the level of scientific consciousness in the region and increase the public understanding and appreciation of the importance and potential of science and technology in human progress;
- ·establish and maintain high standards and ethics in all scientific endeavour.
The 22nd General Meeting and Conference is planned for Georgetown, Guyana in November 2020.