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Istanbul, March 3, 2021 - SDG AI Lab established the Advisory Board and held its first meeting. The board members highly evaluated the performance of the lab in 2020, and provided their advice and recommendations for 2021 work, including priority areas and prospective projects.

SDG AI Lab has a mission to harness the potential of frontier technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for sustainable development. The Lab provides research, development and advisory services in the areas of frontier technologies and sustainable development. As well, the Lab supports UNDP’s internal capacity strengthening efforts for the increasing demand for digital solutions. To bridge the talent gap in the use of frontier technologies in development contexts, the Lab mobilizes a community of volunteer data scientists, connecting UNDP teams and highly skilled data scientists to address development challenges with digital solutions.

The Advisory Board is established as a platform to bring together distinguished professionals around the world with academic, business, civil society, or public experience who share the passion and commitment to use frontier technologies for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Board will support SDG AI Lab and the UN Volunteer Developer Community through strategy guidance, partnerships recommendations and by sharing their invaluable professional expertise and experiences. The members come from diverse companies and institutions including Oxfam Novib, Esri Turkey, Salesforce.org, Hacettepe University, Google, Koç University, UN Volunteers, UNDP and others.

The meeting commenced with the opening remarks delivered by Sahba Sobhani, IICPSD Director, “We live in a multi-hazard world, defined by climate and pandemic crises. In this context, the role of SDG AI Lab in bringing the best practice of tech leaders to address complex development issues will be key.” In response to multi-layered societal challenges, for the coming year SDG AI Lab will focus on developing promising digital solutions for disaster risk reduction and management.

The meeting continued with the presentation of Vilius Stanciauskas, PPMI Research Director, on the OSDG Initiative. OSDG is a joint initiative of PPMI, SDG AI Lab, and a growing community of researchers that aims at developing an open-source and transparent tool for classifying texts according to SDGs.

Advisory Board members reviewed and discussed SDG AI Lab and Volunteer Developer Community strategies. The members explored different pathways to use frontier technologies and Volunteer Developer Community efforts for the achievement of the SDGs. Highlighting the importance of volunteerism for digital transformation, Rimma Sabayeva, Regional Manager for Europe and CIS, UN Volunteers stated, “We will continue empowering volunteer community and mobilizing United Nations and external partners to address complex development challenges through volunteerism.”

The meeting was concluded with a discussion on the 2021 prospective projects, partnerships and expansion opportunities. Reminding the ambitious agenda of the SDGs, Samira Khan, Senior Manager, Global Impact Engagement at Salesforce.org highlighted, “We need to have a better understanding of the SDGs impact on the ground across diverse geographies. In that regard, SDG AI Lab will play a vital role in deepening social innovation and establishing regional and global partnerships to accelerate progress on the SDGs.”

The Advisory Board highlighted the unique work model of SDG AI Lab in driving digital transformation through volunteerism. The Advisory Board members reiterated their support to SDG AI Lab’s efforts to deliver high-quality digital development solutions.

SDG AI Lab highly appreciates the Advisory Board members active participation and highly values their advice and recommendations to the work of the Lab and Community. 

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