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  • Joel Cavalcanti and Rafael Mesquita

Data Diplomacy Academy launched at the UN

The Data Diplomacy Academy (DDA) was officially launched on March 26 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York through a series of meetings and events that brought together academia, diplomacy and UN system. The official ceremony was held on Conference Room 11 at UN premises with opening remarks delivered by Ambassador Marco Suazo (Head of the New York Office of the UN Institute for Training and Research, UNITAR), Ambassador Norberto Moretti (Deputy Permanent Representative of the Brazilian Mission to the UN), Jamil Ahmad (Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP), and the core team of researchers Antonio Pires, Rafael Mesquita (Federal University of Pernambuco, UFPE), and Henry Iure Paiva (Federal University of Paraíba, UFPB).

The team or researchers presented the objectives and pillars of academy, highlighting its commitment to innovation and multilateral collaboration. Ambassador Marco Suazo expressed optimism about the potential of the DDA with what he considered to be the "life work" of all involved. He further emphasized the growing importance of Artificial Intelligence and Information Technology on the UN agenda and made special mention to the satisfaction in seeing a technology-driven initiative such as this coming from Brazil, a country from the Global South.

Ambassor Moretti added that, beyond the practical utility that the DDA resources could bring to diplomats, "the initiative is also a meaningful political expression of support for multilateralism though cutting-edge technology. It harnesses the power of data science to optimize multilateral diplomacy and leverages the work of its practitioners and scholars".

The Director of UNEP, Jamil Ahmad, also greeted the Academy with enthusiasm for the benefits it can bring in a time of fast-paced diplomacy. "This is an initiative that will help diplomats in great ways to come to grips with the multiple challenges that we face today in terms of getting access to credible data", he stated. "It is timely because the demands on diplomats over the years have multiplied and initiatives like this will give a great level of confidence to negotiators when they seek information and data", he added.

The opening speeches were followed by a substantive panel. It was moderated by UNITAR Program Coordinator, Olga Kurilina, and relied on additional intervention by professors Renan Holanda Montenegro (State University of Rio de Janeiro, UERJ) and Rafael Magalhães (UFPB). Professors Amanda Galvíncio and Yuska Aguiar (UFPB) were also present at the launch.

The event had over 100 registered participants, in-person and online, with approximately half representing national governments from over 20 different countries, and the remainder including UN agencies, NGOs, academia, and private sector.

In the two days after the launch ceremony, the DDA team met with representatives of various organizations and permanent missions to the UN. During the meeting between the members of the DDA that are also part of the Enetrix project and the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), possibilities for future collaboration were discussed. In a visit to the Brazilian Mission to United Nations, Ambassador Norberto Moretti expressed an interest in cooperating with the DDA in various ways. "The usefulness of all this for Itamaraty is obvious," said the Ambassador. Other bilateral appointments included UNEP, the Office of Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology, and talks with representatives from other permanent representations in New York.

The launch of the DDA is the culmination of a dialogue that began two years ago when the team of scholars from UFPB and UFPE first met with representatives from UNITAR and the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the UN in 2022, followed by their participation in 2023 in one of the official side-events of the 8th Multistakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation at the UN.

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