China will set up an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to facilitate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda, announced Chinese President XI Jinping during his UN General Assembly address on September 22, 2020.
The SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked goals set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly as part of the UN 2030 Agenda. The past five years witnessed worldwide efforts towards the SDGs, albeit with mixed success. This year, the challenges faced by mankind to advance the SDGs become even more pressing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has set back global efforts to achieve the original 2030 SDGs.
It is an important move of China to launch the Center for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China is committed to an innovative-driven sustainable development, which is also aligned with idea of UN proposed Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM). Big data as an embodiment of innovative technology and an effective perspective for evaluating the SDGs has successful practices in China.
The Center will be the first-ever research agency focusing on the UN SDGs through big data science, with an aim to build a big data technology platform and research center in support of the SDG implementation. The Center features an integration of research, technological innovation, data service, talent fostering, and capacity building, and is expected to become a think tank for relevant UN organizations and member states in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The Center will be hosted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which launched a Big Earth Data Science Engineering Project" (CASEarth) in 2018 to promote the implementation of the SDGs by utilizing big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, space technology, and network communication technology.
CAS, moreover, has completed resource integration necessary for the Center by leveraging more than 1,200 experts from 129 research institutions across the country to carry out the research on sustainable development at national, regional, and global scales.
BAI Chunli, President of CAS, viewed the Center as an action plan for China to address the challenges in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The role science and technology can play, has been widely recognized and reaffirmed as vital to SDG transformations as well as global development. CAS, as a member of the global scientific community, has been working vigorously, through science-policy-society interface, to provide solutions and support domestically and internationally, to address the new demands and challenges of the 2030 Agenda.
The Center will “provide solid support” for the global SDGs implementation, said Prof. GUO Huadong, chief scientist of the CASEarth as well as a member of the 10-Member Group to Support the Technology Facilitation Mechanism.
He stressed that the CASEarth is building a Big Earth Data cloud service platform as well as a Digital Earth science platform, and is designing Earth science small satellites tailored for the monitoring of SDGs implementation. Recently, the CASEarth has been designated as a partner of a UN platform for sustainable development.
CAS has completed a report on "Big Earth Data in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals (2019)", showcasing the value and prospect of applying Big Earth Data-enabled technologies and methods to the evaluation of SDGs.