Press Release: Milestones on ICT for Sustainable Development

UNU-IIST 2011 Board Meeting

UNU-IIST held the annual board meeting today and yesterday. Our board members from different parts of the world, including the United Nations University Rector and UN Undersecretary General Professor Osterwalder, met in Macao. During the two-day’s meeting, the board has reviewed the progress of the activities in the past months and also set directions for future advancement. Professor Peter Haddawy, Director of UNU-IIST, is pleased to share the latest development of the institute with the media.  
Last year, not long after Prof. Haddawy’s arrival, we rolled out an ambitious five-year strategic plan to pursue our new mission of applying ICT to addressing problems of Sustainable Development. Since then, our research and activities have revolved around the application of ICT in four thematic areas of Education, Governance, Health and Poverty.  UNU-IIST is a small institute, yet as an organ of United Nations, it is well positioned globally. We have collaborations with industry, governments and universities from all over the world, and we are determined to tie more closely with Macao and the neighbouring countries in the upcoming years. 
Here are highlights of some of our programs.

Electronic Governance for Sustainable Development (EGOV4SD)

While the e-Macao project is entering the third phase, we have also established an Electronic Government Development Framework to guide a systematic development of electronic governance for a given public administration. UNU-IIST is currently executing one instance of this framework in Afghanistan (EGOV.AF) and another in Cameroon (EGOV.CM), each country with its own set of local challenges to electronic government development.  This is one of example of how Macau can share its successful experience with other countries and exert its influence internationally.

Global Research Benchmarking System (GRBS)

The achievement of a university should not be boiled down as a mere number in a league table, although that is precisely the case with current university ranking systems. The GRBS will provide an important alternative to traditional ranking systems by providing objective data and analyses to help universities benchmark their research activities in traditional subject areas and in Sustainable Development. It will support each university to determine its own research profile and identify niche areas in which university can be in the top tier. The first results covering Asia-Pacific and North America are scheduled for release in November 2011.

ICT-Enabled Education for Poverty Reduction

This new program focuses on the use of ICT to support grassroots capacity building for poverty reduction, with Laos as the first country of activity. It enables extension officers to share their knowledge and professionally network with one another in order to create a broad peer-to-peer learning community. We have established a long term strategic partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Lao PDR, which involves poverty reduction, e-governance and education. 

Information Engineering and Technology in Health (IETH)

This new program aims to address the challenges in application of ICT to tackle pressing problems in public health and to reshape its future. We will work with healthcare and IT professional in Macau and China to contribute to the development of a safer, more effective, more patient-   more equitable health system. 

PhD program in ICT for Sustainable Development

UNU-IIST plans to launch a new PhD program in ICT for Sustainable Development in January 2012.  This double degree program with the University of Pisa in Italy will be the first of its kind worldwide.  The program is designed to educate the future leaders in this field and will set the standard as other universities follow suit.