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Programme published: Towards a FAIRer World symposium at UNESCO, Paris, and virtual – 29 March 2023

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Towards a FAIRer World
Implementing the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science to address global challenges
A Symposium co-organized by UNESCO, International Science Council (ISC) Committee on Data (CODATA) and World Data System (WDS)
UNESCO, Paris and Virtual; Wednesday, 29 March 2023

We are pleased to announce that the full programme for symposium ‘Towards a FAIRer World: Implementing the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science to address global challenges’ has been published. See for details. 

Please note the registration links and due dates, if you wish to attend this event co-organised by UNESCO, International Science Council, CODATA, and World Data System on 29 March 2023 in Paris or virtually. 

Introduction to the Symposium

The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science (2021) provides an international framework for the global transformation of societies towards Open Science. It sets out the fundamental principles of human rights and ethics that define the leading role UNESCO has in ensuring science benefits all by promoting just and equitable access to knowledge and other products of the scientific endeavour. This symposium examines next steps in developing cooperative scientific, digital, and ethics frameworks for implementing the principles and values expressed in the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science while responding to the seven areas of action it sets out.

The need for Open Science to address global challenges, specifically in times of crisis and to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, has been further highlighted by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 215th session in October 2022 and at the third Open Science Conference held at the United Nations Headquarters in February 2023.

The challenge remains as how to best harness the potential of Open Science for the benefit of humanity and how to ensure that the principles and values of Open Science, as defined in the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, are respected. 

The International Science Council, supported by its two data organisations CODATA (the Committee on Data) and WDS (the World Data System), are among the key partners and stakeholders in the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. They have played a leading role in developing international and multi-stakeholder cooperation by promoting Open Science incentivisation, capacity-building, education, and digital literacy as well as contributing to Open Science infrastructure and services. 

UNESCO, ISC, CODATA and WDS have joined efforts to organise this one-day, hybrid symposium to explore the existing and most recent cooperative scientific, digital, and ethics frameworks for advancing the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science across its Areas of Action, with the focus on: 

  • Data Commons for Global Challenges, and 
  • Open Science and data policy in times of crisis.

Thematic Session 1: Data Commons for Global Challenges

The major global human, societal, and scientific challenges of our age are fundamentally interdisciplinary and related to all sectors of society. These challenges can only be addressed through the close collaboration of science, civil society, and government using cross-domain and multi-stakeholder research that seeks to understand complex systems, including through machine-assisted analysis at scale. 

The FAIR Principles are key to the success of such research. They enable the efficient and reliable processing of data, contributing directly to a globally shared approach to Open Science by the scientific community and those engaged in the digital transformation of their disciplines and sectors in society. 

This session will explore case studies in which data infrastructures (commons, platforms and clouds) are developed to implement Open Science and the FAIR principles for cross-domain research areas, such as ocean science, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction. Also presented will be the vision of the WorldFAIR Project (funded by the European Commission, coordinated by CODATA), to move from a ‘bibliographic’ approach to data management to a network of FAIR data exchange that better facilitates machine-assisted data combination and analysis.

The emerging network of Open Science ‘commons’ and data exchanges are supported and advanced by the FAIR Principles, which are referenced in the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science and foundational to the work of ISC, CODATA and WDS. This session explores how ‘commons’ (Open Science and FAIR data platforms) facilitate the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science by responding to its seven areas of action.

Thematic Session 2: Open Science and Data Policy in Times of Crisis

Science as a global public good should belong to humanity in common and benefit humanity as a whole. To this end, scientific knowledge should be openly available and its benefits universally shared. This is even more relevant in times of crisis caused by health, natural and/or geopolitical disruptions.  Well-developed and documented data policy for crisis situations is of vital importance to support the critical role of science in local, national, regional, and global preparedness and response to significantly disruptive or disaster situations. 

This session will examine the underlying ethical, human rights, and humanitarian frameworks needed to support data policy during crisis situations in an open science context, respecting the FAIR (data stewardship) and CARE (ethical) data governance principles. 

Taking into consideration and learning from the ongoing work by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), ISC, CODATA, WDS, and others, the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science could be used as a framework for development of principles addressing data policy in times of crisis within Open Science commons. 

The session will also explore data commons pathways that support the development of tools for the responsible practice and use of data when generating scientific evidence in crisis situations.