SDG AI Lab and UN Volunteers hosted joint Annual Demo Day event to showcase volunteer digital solutions for Sustainable Development and SDGs

May 12, 2021

Istanbul, Turkey, April 21, 2021 - UNDP IICPSD SDG AI Lab in collaboration with United Nations Volunteers held Annual Demo Day to showcase innovative digital solutions for sustainable development and SDGs. The event also highlighted the need for innovative solutions from actors across all sectors as well as close collaboration among all stakeholders for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Frontier technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and GIS can offer the cutting-edge solutions for many development challenges, including health, education, climate change and others. However, those solutions are not commonly available due to the lack of awareness and lack of necessary technical talents in developing countries, which need those solutions the most. To address the need in technical talents SDG AI Lab is engaging Volunteer Data Scientists under its partnership with UNV Supporting Digital Transformation through Volunteerism.

Ms. Rimma Sabayeva, UN Volunteers Regional Manager for Europe and CIS, highlighted the importance of volunteerism for the digital transformation and sustainable development: “Volunteers bring the ultimate drive and vision on how we can accelerate the SDGs with innovative digital technologies”.

Volunteer Data Scientist Initiative connects UNDP teams and data scientists to find solutions in addressing development challenges such as Covid-19, disaster response, poverty, climate change and others. In 2020 SDG AI Lab has established 10 research teams prototyping machine learning, natural language processing, GIS, data analytics and visualization solutions. At the event, the volunteers presented their projects addressing development issues such as coral reefs bleaching, poverty mapping, disaster response, infodemics and others using various digital solutions.

Poverty Mapping Project: the map shows the wealth estimates across the Philippines, using nightlights, Google images, population data and other data sources.

Moreover, SDG AI Lab team presented the state-of-the-art solutions for UNDP Nature Climate and Energy Cluster’s project documentation classification and semantic search, which would allow to better understand thematic relations between queries, projects and categories.

SDG AI Lab – NCE Team Collaboration Project: Neural Question Answering application helps to find answer to the different questions using thousands of NCE project documents.

On the importance of digital technologies for UNDP’s everyday work, Mr. Sahba Sobhani, Director of IICPSD, quoted: “It has been one year of the global Covid pandemic - that forced us to rapidly adapt to telecommuting – and showed how dependent we are on technologies. For UNDP IICSPD, building up the necessary skills, know-how, and understanding to respond to the increasing demand for digital solutions, is a key strategic priority”.

UNDP Portfolio Sensemaking project: the word cloud shows key words identified from the analysis of the UNDP project documents to further identify the interlinkages between the projects.

Lastly, SDG AI Lab and PPMI have presented their joint work on the open-source and free OSDG tool that can accurately classify and analyze documents by their relevance to specific SDGs.