The Graduate Institute in Geneva, will host another preparatory conference for the upcoming virtual UN World Data Forum, that will take place in October. Originally scheduled to take place in Bern, Switzerland, under the auspices of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, it will now take place online with a number of speakers from UN agencies, private sector, academics, and NGOs.

Data, data, data everywhere. What are we to do with this tsunami of data points? How are the UN humanitarian agencies to harness the power of data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. These and other questions will be on the agenda on August 27 at the Graduate Institute, with Steve MacFeely, Chief Statistician at UNCTAD, who writes and researches on the question of measuring the UN Sustainable Development Goals, on the uses and misuses of data, bringing a fresh perspective to statistics to advance understanding of the stakes at hand. Steve is one of those rare statisticians who speaks cogently on how good data can be put to use to inform policies.

Not to be missed.

You can still sign-up for virtual access to this event at the Graduate Institute.

The UN Brief has been following Mr. MacFeely’s Road to Bern presentations and keynote, and his peer-reviewed published papers are a great resource for those who want to do a deep dive on the subject. We had the chance to interview Mr. MacFeely via Zoom last June, after the Road to Bern #prepcon took place.


Steve MacFeely, Chief Statistician, UNCTAD

And don’t miss the upcoming #TwitterChat on the 31rst of August.

And sign-up for the AIS BIG DATA Hackathon that starts on the 3rd of September and ends on the 6th. UN, Global Pulse, DESA, UNCTAD, and Marine Traffic will be running these.

We also interviewed John Willbanks, Chief Commons Officer of Sage Networks, that participated, last May, on the Road to Bern event.


The Road to Bern Dialogues seeks to answer the following questions:

  • How can Geneva-based organisations improve their collection of disaggregated data in order to leave no one behind?
  • How can developing countries leapfrog through technological developments and bridge the data gap?
  • How can Geneva-based organisations better share data and further develop data as a global commons?
    1. What are the current challenges in making data available for countries, communities, and citizens worldwide?
    2. How can governments and international organisations collaborate with the private sector to create a data commons?
    3. How can such partnerships be sustained?
    4. What are the required capacities and resources to deal with data issues, such as data management and governance, security, standardisation, etc.?
  • How should cross-cutting issues such as privacy, data protection, security, and trade-offs be dealt with?
  • How can decision-makers improve their use of data? How can data be better visualised?

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