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SDSC Plays Role on World Stage in UNESCO’s FAIR Symposium

Published May 2, 2023

SDSC’s Research Data Services Division Director Christine Kirkpatrick recently presented at a UNESCO symposium about worldwide FAIR efforts. Pictured with her (center) are (l-r) Deputy Director-General of UNESCO Xing Qu, President of the International Science Council Salvatore Arico, CODATA President Barend Mons and Executive Director of the World Data System Meredith Goins.  Credit: Christine Kirkpatrick

By Kimberly Mann Bruch

In conjunction with her role as secretary general for the International Science Council’s CODATA (Committee on Data), Christine Kirkpatrick, director of Research Data Services at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego,  recently chaired the opening session at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s FAIR symposium in Paris, France.

“The symposium brought together worldwide leaders from every continent who are all working toward open access to science and data discoveries,” Kirkpatrick said. “It was energizing to be together—unified by the common goal to ensure that the world benefits from the incredible output of global research, especially in times of crisis.”

Kirkpatrick specifically participated in a workshop entitled Towards a FAIRer World: Implementing the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science to address global challenges. This workshop focused on ways in which the research community can achieve the 2021 UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science) and presented highlights from around the world regarding FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data and the ways in which open science practices are being implemented around the globe. Exemplars included the Australian Research Data Commons, the WorldFAIR project led by CODATA, and the African Open Science Platform. Specific domains highlighted included the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals, FAIR digital ocean ecosystem activities at the Alfred Wegener Institute and agricultural sciences data challenges in Brazil.

In his opening remarks, CODATA President Barend Mons reframed the motivation away from data. “It is not about data, but about how to do science, now and in the future,” he said.

UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General Xing Qu and H.E. Adam Al Mulla, ambassador and permanent delegate of Kuwait to UNESCO, also addressed attendees, along with Tshiamo Motshegwa, director of the African Open Science Platform. Motshegwa reminded those gathered that, “open science needs to be inclusive of other ways of knowing” that bring together western approaches and indigenous knowledge.

The afternoon session was dedicated to Open Science and Data Policy in Times of Crisis. Presentations ranged from lessons learned from the Health Emergency Management Bureau in the Philippines to data policy needs in response to earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. Additional topics encompassed the current efforts by the UK’s Royal Society to develop policy for trusted data in data commons frameworks. Perihan Elif Ekmeki, from TOBB University of Economics and Technology, discussed the definition of “public good” as too narrow in crisis times; that frameworks should also include autonomy, diversity, cultural values, vulnerabilities and the right to information. Additionally, Virginia Murray of the UK Health Security Agency gave a captivating overview of the work of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) in creating 302 Hazard Information Profiles to inform countries’ strategies and actions on risk reduction and management.