The road to Bern via Geneva

Third dialogue
Sharing data: Towards a data commons

26 May 2020

In its final report in June 2019, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation recommended that ‘a broad, multi-stakeholder alliance, involving the UN, create a platform for sharing digital public goods, engaging talent and pooling data sets, in a manner that respects privacy, in areas related to attaining the SDGs’.

Geneva’s vibrant ecosystem of international organisations, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), already plays an important role in creating data commons for users worldwide. For instance, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is the biggest data-processing facility on earth and the biggest source of scientific data as global commons. Similarly, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) provides climate and meteorological data as a global public good. Nowadays, it is hard to find an international organisation in Geneva that does not attribute an increasingly central role to data.

As the main operational hub of the UN and the multilateral system, Geneva’s ecosystem can contribute substantially to identifying and fulfilling some of the most pressing data demands of the 2030 Agenda.

About the road to Bern
via Geneva

The 2020 UN World Data Forum (WDF), that will take place in Bern, Switzerland in October 2020, provides a unique opportunity to stock-take the progress made on the 2030 Agenda, to identify missing gaps in data development, and to mobilise the resources needed to bridge these gaps. The WDF can foster the implementation of the recommendations made by the UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation to encourage the creation of a platform for sharing digital public goods.

In the lead up to the WDF, a series of events known as the Road to Bern will be organised. To initiate the discussions among multistakeholders, the road to the WDF in Bern will pass through Geneva with the organisation of four thematic dialogues on digital and data co-operation.

In particular, four aspects of key relevance will be addressed: (a) the collection of data; (b) the sharing of data; (c) the use of data; (d) the protection and privacy of data.

Therefore – and to initiate discussions among multistakeholders – the road to the WDF in Bern will pass through Geneva, with the organisation of four thematic dialogues focusing on these key issues, whose objectives are to:

  • Foster exchanges and learning across sectors and thematic areas

  • Create a new multisectoral network with key international organisations, key institutions, and missions dealing with data

  • Promote a data commons in International Geneva

The dialogues will address 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?

The outcomes of the ‘Road to Bern via Geneva’ dialogues – including research and outcomes of discussions – will be compiled and illustrated, to feed into the WDF. This contribution from Geneva will be presented at the UN WDF in order to initiate and facilitate the implementation of the recommendation on sharing digital public goods made by UN High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation and allow further steps.

The road to Bern via Geneva: Calendar of dialogues

The main focus of these dialogues is to identify good practices related to data challenges through cross-sectoral exchanges, in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The events will also bring together various policy communities to further identify current needs, discuss cross-cutting issues, and mobilise the necessary resources to achieve a data commons.

First dialogue: Collecting data: How can big data contribute to leaving no one behind and achieving the SDGs?

Climate and health, with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the World Health Organization (WHO)

19 February 2020, WMO

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Second dialogue: Protecting data against vulnerabilities: Questions of trust, security, and privacy of data

Humanitarian and intellectual property, with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

22 and 23 April, 2020

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Third dialogue: Sharing data: Towards a data commons

Science and trade, with the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the International Trade Center (ITC)

26 May, 2020

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Fourth dialogue: Using (big) data: Making data user-friendly

Interoperability and communication, with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Economic Forum (WEF)

September 2020