3 days of learning and networking: UN World Data Forum

Nikesh Balami

Nikesh Balami


Mon Dec 03 2018

In Octobers, I got an opportunity to represent Open Knowledge Nepal at the UN World Data Forum 2018 organized Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority of United Arab Emirates with support from the Statistics Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission and the High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Our participation was made possible by the travel scholarship provided by Data for Development (D4D) Program in Nepal implemented by The Asia Foundation in partnership with Development Initiatives with support by UK Department for International Development.

To keep myself focused during the Forum, we decided to focus on the three major aspects so we could gain maximum benefits from attending the event.

  1. Sharing and Learning: Since we believe the data ecosystem of Nepal is well organized which is slowly making impacts, We plan to take forum as a platform to share about the things which we have achieved through collaborative efforts with others and also learn from them. It can be worth, which may inspire many and forum is the best place where we can find diversify audience in terms of nationalities and ethnicity.
  2. Networking: We plan to focus more on building the relationship and network with international organizations, which can help us to bring more support and helping hands from another part of the world to make the data momentum stronger in Nepal.
  3. Future Support: Composed of 85 plenary and parallel session, we want to take it as an opportunity to determine our own vision by finding out the global trend and direction.

The three days event was a lifetime experience, which has added experience, maturity, and more importantly clarity. The clarity in the sense of understanding the focus of the world’s data leaders. The learning of the Forum was interdisciplinary but to sum up few:

  1. Funding is a priority: To move beyond the R&D works and to increase the people’s trust in data or to use open data to create a dynamic population, we need lots of investment which needs to be systematic. If Nepal really wants to create data-driven impactful projects, we now need to focus on the sustainable funding mechanism. Till now the data ecosystem is backed by the voluntary and philosophical mechanism, which needs to be changed. The informal meeting of the Forum teaches me to keep funding in the priority.
  2. Inclusion: Now its a right time of the world and Nepal to be focused on the Inclusion by creating or giving a platform to those who are left behind. The space for the females, disable people, minorities etc in the data ecosystem. This is more important in the context of Nepal, where there is a huge opportunity to make improvements. The discussion about the data and technology helping the people & organization who are already powerful was one of mine best. We need to work at ground level to ignore the monopolistic situation and create an Inclusive ecosystem.
  3. Intra Government Collaboration: Focusing on the use of data for decision making or to save lives, we need systematic, sustainable and responsible intra-government collaboration. Where the government works with civil societies and private agency for the capacity building and literacy, which will increase the people’s trust and priority needs to be given to citizen-generated data.
  4. Beyond Pilot Project: We see lots of interesting pilot projects which are using Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data etc but the important issues which were discussed in the forum was to move beyond the pilot projects and make a working application.
  5. Public-Private Partnership: The forum also highlights the importance of the long-term partnership between the stakeholders who are doing the similar work around data so that collaboratively impact can be made which can save or make lives easier, rather than just focusing on the results, the key was to make partnership in between public and private.

All the learning are hard to sum-up in words, but we need to ensure that quality, relevant, timely, open and disaggregated data are made available and accessible to all users. Based on the learning I will be working to make the 2019 roadmap of Open Knowledge Nepal, where I would include the plans to focus on building the products which will inspire others to use the available data, brainstorm with the others open data organization to work on the collaborative projects by keeping the Dubai Declaration in the heart of our roadmap, which is focusing on the better financing for the data. I also felt that its a right time for Nepal to focus on Inclusion so will plan to organize the sensitizing event which will focus on government and diverse stakeholders, which can help us to bring more people from different sectors.

We also got an opportunity to explore and enjoy oceans, desert, foods and a beautiful “La Perle by Dragone” show in Dubai.