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Speech by Alessandro Annoni at the Founding Ceremony of the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals

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Alessandro Annoni delivered a video speech 

at the Founding Ceremony of the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals



Dear Delegates, Dear online participants, 

On behalf of the International Society for Digital Earth, I would like to express my congratulations for the establishment of the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals to support the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Unfortunately COVID-19 is imposing travel restrictions and I can’t be in Beijing for this special event. Allow me, however, to share my view on the objectives of the Centre and of this Forum. 

The International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals aims to be a public science and technology platform focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals through big data science. It is expected to become a think tank for relevant UN organizations and member states relevant in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

One of the main avenues for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 is the capacity to measure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.   

Specific indicators have been defined that require appropriate data. Today there is a rise in data due to the digital transformation of our society but still too limited capacities to access and analyze such information and to turn it into knowledge for better decision making. 

We must profit from the scientific and technological progress and the billions of digital devices that collect petabytes of information on a daily basis (the so-called data revolution or data tsunami). 

For these reasons it is necessary to focus on research on big data and its integration with data from different natural and social science domains. This encompasses land, ocean, atmosphere, urban settlements, and human activity and has immense potential for new solutions towards sustainable development goals. 

Unfortunately COVID-19 has a strong, unforeseen and rapid impact on several indicators (poverty, quality education, health, economic growth,…). Only by using big data analytics and real time processing we will be able to monitor and assess what is happening and consequently make the right decisions. 

In this context the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals is becoming very relevant and I hope it will act as aggregator and facilitator for all researchers and governments that spend efforts in sustainable development. 

As President of the International Society for Digital Earth I can only share the view and ambition of the new Centre. I would like to remind that the International Society for Digital Earth was also founded in Beijing in 2006. His mission is to benefit society by promoting the development and realization of Digital Earth. 

Digital Earth makes use of digital technologies to model earth systems, including its cultural and social aspects represented by human societies living on the planet. The Digital Earth Vision incorporates a digitally-formatted Earth accessible directly through the citizens of the planet connected to the Internet and supports facilitating the provision of data and information to others. 

Clearly, Digital Earth technology plays an in-depth role in providing the necessary basis for reliable and responsible scientific understanding and knowledge to support informed decisions and evidence-based policy advice. 

We have recently established working groups of particular relevance to the objectives of the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals such the working groups on Data Governance and Ethic, Science and Technology, Education and the working group on Digital Earth in support to Sustainable Development Goals. 

For these reasons the International Society for Digital Earth that I represent is ready to collaborate closely with the Center in the areas of common interest. 

I look forward to getting many fruitful results from the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals in the future, and best wishes to the 1st International Forum on Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals. 

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Alessandro Annoni

President of International Society for Digital Earth


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