Questions around data, including big data, have come to the forefront of debates in various fields for many years now. While the business sector has already made tremendous progress in utilising the potential of data, other sectors, including international affairs, are still in the early stages of integrating the potential of new and larger forms of data in their daily work.

In Geneva, the main operational hub of the United Nations and the international system, data appears in two major realms. First, data is a tool used to develop better policies on health, trade, migration, and climate, to name just a few relevant areas. Second, data is a topic of diplomatic negotiations addressing privacy, security, digital trade, and other important issues. In addition, Geneva hosts numerous events and discussions focusing on data from the technological, economic, and policy perspectives.

To improve understanding on this quickly evolving issue, the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP) is organising a series of activities and events focusing on how data is shaping our digital future. It will lead up to the 2017 Internet Governance Forum (IGF), 18-21 December, the main global gathering of digital policy practitioners with the underlying theme for 2017 being ‘Shaping your digital future’.


zooming data shaping future


Activities and events:

  • Data Talks: monthly meetings that converge actors in International Geneva who are concerned with the potential, as well as the risks, related to data management in international affairs. The meetings address issues such as cloud computing, data protection, open data, data immunities, and data for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By sharing best practices and experiences, the meetings aim to share lessons learned across silos and institutions. If you would like to join the meetings or find out more, please write to Ms Barbara Rosen Jacobson at

  • Open Forums and Workshops at the 2017 IGF: The GIP will be coordinating a data-track at the IGF, consisting of seven  data-related open forums, organised by international organisations:

    • Managing cloud computing in the United Nations system (UN Joint Inspection Unit)

    • Data Protection and Humanitarian Action (International Committee of the Red Cross)

    • Big data, business and respect for human rights (European Broadcasting Union, with the Council of Europe and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland)

    • Data and Trade: Identifying win-win solutions for future digital commerce (International Trade Centre)

    • Data for the humanitarian field (International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies)

    • Data & the SDGs: From opportunities to impact (UN Office in Geneva – SDG Lab)

    • Data in Environmental and Climate Activities (World Meteorological Organization)

In addition, the GIP and the University of Geneva are organising a workshop on Data governance and policy: Developing a curriculum.

  • Data diplomacy research project: DiploFoundation is conducting research on the potential, limitations and challenges of big data for diplomacy, commissioned by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These findings will feed into the activities organised in the Data & International Geneva track.

  • Reports, updates and research: Data is the topic of many global and regional discussions. The GIP Digital Watch observatory provides event reports, research, and the latest updates on policy-making around (big) data, including developments in privacy, security, standards, infrastructure, jurisdiction, and e-commerce.


For more information about our approach and activities, please contact us at

The Geneva Internet Platform is an initative of the Swiss authorities


Members of the Steering Committee are FDFA, OFCOM, DCAF, ETH-Zürich, and the University of Geneva

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