UNICC Cybersecurity and Data Solutions Support COP27 Climate Conference

UNICC team on the ground in Sharm El Sheikh helps UNFCCC with conference optimization

UNICC assisted with cybersecurity and data solutions for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November 2022.

There were more than 100 Heads of State and Governments and 35,000 participants, including VIPs, country delegations, civil society organizations, coordination and management teams, technical specialist teams, UNFCCC and local staff, journalists, reporters and visitors. UNICC sent three cybersecurity and data experts to help out on the ground, in addition to providing remote support from Valencia.

Last year UNICC provided conference management, registration cybersecurity and data support to COP26. UNFCCC asked UNICC to continue this year with a number of services, including:

  • Virtual conference platform and infrastructure cybersecurity assessment
  • Onsite cybersecurity support
  • Data and analytics solutions to optimize information on participants, enhance data quality and confidence in registration data, with a view to enabling UNFCCC management to make informed decisions and gather insights from survey data.

Under my guidance as UNFCCC Director of Conference Services, that of the UNFCCC, Head of ICT and the respective team leads, the UNICC team on-site (and offsite) provided excellent support, particularly in the area of registration and accreditation. This enabled UNFCCC to successfully deliver a large-scale COP. The UNICC team showed absolute dedication, commitment and flexibility in being there to address the challenges and getting the issues resolved, often within minutes, especially during situations that needed immediate intervention. On top of this, the UNICC team on the ground were also able to manage some of their other prior commitments, which is commendable.

Laura Lopez, Director of Conference Affairs at UNFCCC

On-site and remote cybersecurity support for COP27
Under the leadership of the UNFCCC Cybersecurity Officer, UNICC was part of the Security Operations Center (SOC) team that supported UNFCCC and the Government of Egypt during COP27. UNICC was tasked with the vetting of the cybersecurity arrangements in place, as well as to participate in security operations during COP27 to ensure that a safe and secure information and cyber environment was provided for participants and delegates.

Activities in scope for UNICC’s review included a threat and risk assessment established prior to the conference, as well as a comprehensive security audit conducted by the main cybersecurity provider and the Egyptian CERT teams. The scope of the audit included conference facilities, network infrastructure, IT services, and end-user IT equipment and was followed by a remediation phase to address findings before the start of the conference.

Under UNFCCC supervision, UNICC participated in security incident management and response activities jointly with the main cybersecurity provider and the Egyptian CERT teams. Security operations were carried out by the SOC, itself embedded within the Network Operations Center (NOC) for enhanced interaction, and were supported by a Security Information and Event Monitoring solution (SIEM) deployed on-premises by the main cybersecurity provider specifically for the purpose.

During the conference, a UNICC team member served as a backup to the UNFCCC Cybersecurity Officer and worked on a shift basis to oversee the cybersecurity operations on behalf of UNFCCC during the sessions.

The UNICC team member interfaced with other SOC team members, the conference Infrastructure Lead Engineer, the NOC teams, the Conference Logistics Officer and on-site UNFCCC staff servicing the conference to address cybersecurity-related events and incidents.

Doing this, UNICC was responsible for assessing and evaluating reported cybersecurity-related events and alerts, daily reports issued by the teams, as well as for providing input to decision-making and follow-up recommendations to the UNFCCC ICT Lead as necessary. UNICC was also responsible for providing forensics investigation for cybersecurity-related incidents, as well as for providing regular threat intelligence updates prior and during the conference. In addition, UNICC teams undertook the cybersecurity assessment of the virtual conference platform.

As Head of UNFCCC ICT and Lead COP27 ICT Service Coordination, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the UNICC team for the high quality support we received on the cybersecurity front, which was very valuable to us navigating through this year’s conference.We were fortunate to have UNICC expertise in the SOC, jointly with the main cyber contractor and the Egyptian teams. UNICC’s on-site and remote contribution was excellent, in particular the additional support we received in the area of threat hunting and forensics work, which was key to driving incident handling throughout the conference. UNICC colleagues were great, reliable team players, and showed outstanding professionalism, dedication, and support even in stressful moments.

John Kiarie, Head of ICT at UNFCCC
Photo: UNICC

Data and analytics support
UNICC provided data and analytics support to UNFCCC for operational aspects. The UNICC data and analytics team focused on building data and analytics solutions to support the Conference Affairs, ICT and Operations coordination teams.

They created re-usable playbook and frameworks to manage workflows such as managing information on participants, support conference affairs team with registration and other formalities. They also worked to improve the data quality and confidence in registration data and enable UNFCCC leaders to make better decisions and gather insights from survey data, improving credibility with self-serve analytics on UNFCCC reporting platforms.

The team supported with high-level areas where to provide support:

  • Supported COP27 registration and accreditation data insights, with tools that supported real-time decision-making by UNFCCC senior management.
  • Provided optimal registration and accreditation services and development and implementation of the secretariat’s registration and accreditation standards.
  • Managed a COP27 client survey, a major reference and decision-making tool for UNFCCC senior management, management at large and Host Countries, as well as other conference managers in the UN system and intergovernmental systems.
  • Supported the Coordination Unit and Registration and Accreditation Management Team (RAMT) of the Conference Affairs division with responsibilities related to data analysis, data transformation and reporting. Worked under the general guidance of the respective Team Lead according to the area of specific assignments.

Data and Analytics team members, present in Egypt at the conference, also offered support for ad-hoc requests on stats and dashboards (e.g. on vaccinations, exceptions lists, etc.), maintaining, supporting and adapting existing dashboards as well as creating new ones based on requirements.

The high-quality data analytics solutions for the COP27 included client survey, registration and accreditation allowing for sophisticated insights and harnessing data to drive actionable analytics.

The team also liaised with ICT on the ground, adding additional data sources and technical issues, as well as an interactive client survey dashboard, a sentiment analysis for the client survey, interactive registration and accreditation dashboards and stable data infrastructure for ingest, storage and processing.

UNICC was proud to help with its successful cybersecurity and data solutions and support for UNFCCC at COP27 this year.

Photo: CTBTO

CTBTO 25th Anniversary Website Refresh

UNICC assists with refreshed CTBTO website for mission visibility and information for the organization’s 25th Anniversary

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) celebrated its 25th anniversary this fall with a high-level ministerial meeting and six countries (The Gambia, Tuvalu, Dominica, Timor-Leste, Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Príncipe) ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, for a total of 176 state signatories. The organization also took the opportunity to upgrade its website to bring robust mission visibility and information to its many global stakeholders.

UNICC performed professionally in all aspects of this CTBTO website upgrade and migration, responding with spirit and an openness to all suggestions. They met all deadlines to deliver the site for CTBTO’s 25th anniversary in September.

The success of the project from the UNICC team (web development, project management and communications) was successful and demonstrates our view that UNICC is and will continue to be a strategic partner in digital business solutions. We had a winning team here who was able to deliver an agile project with high quality and a bit of magic.

Sunil Gupta, Chief Information Technology Officer, CTBTO

UNICC successfully delivered a website redesign and migration project for CTBTO, who sought out UNICC as a partner to migrate its outdated website to a new and more dynamic, cloud-based (Drupal) platform, including a content refresh for more approachable, manageable, readable and engaging content. After three months of design and development beginning in May 2022, the revamped website was launched on the morning of 19th September 2022 to great appreciation from CTBTO stakeholders.

In the Beginning
The UNICC team began development in May 2022 with an initial focus on both design and content migration from the old site to the new development site. The majority of the migration took place in May and early June. During this time, initial development work also took place on the main design template which allowed the UNICC team to hand over a partially built system to the CTBTO content team.

Under the Hood
The project included design content analysis, technical analysis and design, information architecture improvements, wireframes and mock-ups, project management and Drupal Content Management System. Development activities included:

  • Final UI/UX and Site design
  • Initial CMS platform setup
  • Data modeling for all content types
  • Development of dynamic pages
  • Creation of templates for static pages
  • Development of responsive theme (menus, layouts, components)
  • Full text search engine
  • SSO user authentication
  • Content workflow management
  • SEO support.

The project included cloud hosting infrastructure (in AWS) setup and configuration, CI/CD pipelines configuration and deployment automation as well as security risk assessments and audit.

Project scope included testing, UAT, migration activities, training, transition and release management, Go-live and Early lifecycle support, documentation (service guide) and project management. The project approach meant each sprint task was recorded in a Kanban board represented in the Jira ticket system; at the end of each sprint, UNICC presented a product demo that included all the newly completed tasks. The product increment provided after each iteration will be tested by the customer when operating normally.

Credit: CTBTO

When It Comes to Content
Many years of page-at-a-time publishing from a variety of authors and perspectives meant greater consistency and compliance to editorial guidelines was needed. UNICC hired and oversaw a content writer/editor whose role included rewriting content which needed to be transformed, rewritten and/or redesigned (from an information presentation perspective) with an eye to an appealing and dynamic look and feel. This also meant providing a friendly (and accurate) facelift for highly technical/programmatic information. The CTBTO content team was able to add and modify content over the summer months ahead of the September launch.

CTBTO Oversight and Inputs

Design workshops took place throughout May and June and were signed off shortly after a presentation was made to the CTBTO Executive Secretary during the third week of June.

Photo: CTBTO

Development work continued throughout the summer and the project was delivered in eight-week sprints and included all the deliverables set out in the multi-phase plan. There were several major user interface related change requests that came in late July and early August which were accommodated well by the team. The content team continued work on page content from May until launch ensuring that pages were either rewritten or edited accordingly with signoffs taking place for each page/section.

The joint CTBTO-UNICC team successfully delivered on the following aspects of this multi-phase project:

  • Production website with the described functionalities
  • Web Application UI/UX
  • Web content editing
  • Hosting environments in the UNICC Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud services
  • Website launch – Website Security Assessment – Assessment of the security requirements and controls, static and dynamic analysis, with penetration test of the web application before going live
  • Website Testing
  • Training of the CTBTO Project Team
  • Providing training materials
  • User manual and technical documentation for the CTBTO Project Team
  • Post go-live support.

Winning team, high quality deliverables and a bit of magic
UNICC delivered on time, in budget, with proactive professional responses in all aspects of delivery. The team met all deadlines to deliver the site for CTBTO’s 25th anniversary in September. The CTBTO team have reflected that project’s success demonstrates the value UNICC extends to its Clients and Partner Organizations. CTBTO affirms that UNICC will continue to be a strategic partner for digital business solutions.

Photo: CITES

CITES Goes Digital: A Cloud-based System for Tracking and Management of CITES Review of Significant Trade

UNICC delivers CITES RST Tracking and Management System for greater efficiency

UNICC launched a project with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in February 2020 to develop a system to track and manage a core CITES process with a cloud-based solution.

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. This new system, designed, developed, hosted and managed by UNICC, optimizes CITES’ Review of Significant Trade (RST) procedures.

The CITES Review of Significant Trade (RST) procedure was designed to identify species that may be subject to unsustainable levels of international trade, and to identify problems and solutions concerning effective implementation of the Convention.

CITES Resolution Conf. 12.8

The RST process identifies species that may be subject to unsustainable levels of international trade, and identifies recommendations and solutions to address the issue. The system provides a database for tracking these RST cases. The importance of a properly developed and delivered RST Tracking and Management System is critical to CITES’ efforts to regulate the trade of wild animals and plants across borders between countries.

The value in UNICC’s delivery of the CITES RST Tracking and Management System is rooted in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those concerned with biodiversity (Goals 14 and 15) and international partnerships (Goal 17).

Credit: CITES

The RST Tracking and Management System also serves as an essential tool helping CITES Parties to track the RST process and provides an easy-to-use platform for communication.

Key features
The RST Tracking and Management System includes a summary of the case details and status of all ongoing RST cases, any recommendations of the CITES Animals or Plants Committee (depending on the species) or the CITES Standing Committee directed to the Party concerned, and correspondence between that Party and the CITES Secretariat.

The system provides more transparency in the process and allows Parties, that are subject to the RST process, and other interested users, to track the status of recommendations and receive alerts on outstanding actions. It also provides a portal for Parties to communicate with the CITES Secretariat on progress in the implementation of these recommendations.

Credit: CITES

For the CITES RST system we followed a two-phased approach. The first phase focussed on detailed requirements-gathering, analysis and design. The system mock-ups and the proposed solution were presented to the stakeholders, including members of the Conference of the Parties (CoP). The second phase followed an Agile development process with excellent validation from the CITES Secretariat.

Gianluca Nuzzo, Application Delivery Team Lead, UNICC

The RST Tracking and Management System was developed using a ‘best-of-breed’ solution/technology approach and according to the chosen design. It utilizes widely-recognized, open-source solutions and frameworks selected for the specific requirements of the application. The system is presented in a user-friendly, modern and intuitive design. Explore the RST Tracking and Management system here:


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines.

Levels of exploitation of some animal and plant species are high and the trade in them, together with other factors, such as habitat loss, is capable of heavily depleting their populations and even bringing some species close to extinction. Many wildlife species in trade are not endangered, but the existence of an agreement to ensure the sustainability of the trade is important in order to safeguard these resources for the future.

Because the trade in wild animals and plants crosses borders between countries, the effort to regulate it requires international cooperation to safeguard certain species from over-exploitation. CITES was conceived in the spirit of such cooperation. Today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.

CITES is an international agreement to which States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention (‘joined’ CITES) are known as Parties. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented at the national level. For many years CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with now 184 Parties.

Over 38,700 species – including roughly 5,950 species of animals and 32,800 species of plants – are protected by CITES against over exploitation through international trade. They are listed in three CITES Appendices. The species are grouped in the Appendices according to how threatened they are by international trade. They include some whole groups, such as primates, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), sea turtles, parrots, corals, cacti and orchids. But in some cases, only a subspecies or geographically separate population of a species (for example the population of just one country) is listed.

Photo: UNICC

UNICC and UNHCR at the Stellar Meridian 2022 Blockchain Conference

UNICC was proud to participate in the Stellar Development Foundation’s Meridian 2022 Conference, called “The Urgency of Doing,” between 11-13 October in Rome, Italy. The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) is a non-profit organization supporting the development and growth of the open-source Stellar network that supports blockchain technology.

UNICC’s participation highlighted the collaboration between UNICC and UNHCR, to shed light on global development issues and how can blockchain technology help improve the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The distributed ledger or blockchain technology is revolutionary, allowing not only innovative solutions to existing business problems but creating new products and markets altogether. However, for the humanitarian relief sector, lack of tech in the last mile of digital delivery, to Persons of Concern (POC), remains the biggest block in adopting this at scale.

Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer, UNICC

Aid organizations rely on physical cash-assistance programs to deliver the hundreds of billions of dollars in aid disbursed each yea, and the need to scale these programs is growing. What if there was a way to disburse aid faster, more transparently, safely, and with fewer barriers at scale? UN Agencies need to open the door to a new way of thinking about delivering humanitarian aid.

The panel – meeting humanitarian needs through digital tools
Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer at UNICC spoke at the panel called “Meeting Humanitarian Need through Digital Tools” on 13 October, along with Denelle Dixon CEO of Stellar Development Foundation and Carmen Hett, Treasurer at UNHCR, who spoke about the broader use of technology in humanitarian delivery.

His presentation focused on challenges and opportunities that UNICC is facing in exploring the use of blockchain technology and digital currencies for payments to beneficiaries such as internally displaced populations (IDP) and refugees.

UNHCR works to safeguard the rights and well-being of people who have been forced to flee. Together with partners and communities, they work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another country. This includes refugees, returnees, stateless people, the internally displaced and asylum-seekers. UNHCR’s protection, shelter, health and education has been crucial, healing broken pasts and building brighter futures. UNICC is a key partner to harness digital tools and transformations to successfully deliver aid.

One such digital tool for taking care of refugees is to give them financial aid called ‘cash-based intervention.’ Here, the collaboration between UNICC helps to deliver the blockchain and its digital wallets for refugee reimbursement through cash-based interventions. UNICC is providing the technical intelligence and knowledge on blockchain and associated technologies already, and now is experimenting with the Stellar network platform for optimized services.

Photo: UNICC

The conversations
There were good discussions with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), who was looking to learn more about block chain and Stellar and WFP’s Innovation Lab. What are the problems that the UN system is facing and what are the real gaps in some of the solutions it is embracing?

Shashank was able to contribute his tech and blockchain expertise in the UN system to the conversation, sharing the UNICC experience in implementing blockchain for digital identity across the UN family.

In addition to these questions, there was agreement that cross-border payments with blockchain can facilitate processing, reducing the cost of money movement and moving it expeditiously. Even instantaneously, while old school technologies might take 24 hours before a disbursement arrives in a beneficiary’s bank account.

It’s exceedingly difficult to predict when the next humanitarian crisis is going to take place. The most important thing is to be as ready as we can. Blockchain technology can make it amazingly easy and fast for UN Agencies to exchange financial and informational refugee data.

One of the other big challenges UNICC is looking to address is the difficulty of exchanging refugees’ data from one UN Agency to another (for example, from UNRWA and WFP), but with the swiftness, security and immutability of blockchain it can be done. Similarly, regarding the movement of funds, once funds are managed on the blockchain, people can relax about emergency situations. UN Agencies will be able to quickly move money, so from that point of view, this technology is really bringing efficiency.

Converting cryptocurrency to cash
What remains to be explored in-real-world situations is the ‘cash-out’ from digital wallets. While blockchain based platforms, may move monies at a lower cost and higher speed, eventually Persons of Concern have to ‘cash-out’ digital currency into ‘fiat’ for buying goods and services to meet their needs.

Cost-effective solutions are needed for this last-mile digital delivery. UNICC is supporting UNHCR in experimenting with the Stellar platform for Persons of Concern (POC), to convert the digital dollar (USDC Stable Coin) into fiat currency using services provided by MoneyGram.

This may seem trivial but has many issues as the commercial organisations have to deal with KYC/AML laws of different jurisdictions. For a cross-border refugee already under immense strain, the pay-out is not easy.

UNICC along with its partner humanitarian relief agencies continue to explore this area for cost-effective and digitally-inclusive solutions.

Photo: WTO

WTO Taps UNICC to Deliver its Integrated, Cost-efficient Service Management Solutions

ITSM and Enterprise Service Management with ServiceNow

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the global international organization that deals with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.

The digital transformation the WTO Secretariat is embarking on relies on how well the transformation contributes to its mandate and how this will function internally. Similar to other international organizations, WTO Members States expect the Secretariat to optimize the value they are getting from their contributions and to unleash the talent of its staff.

This is where WTO and UNICC began to collaborate, to help with greater efficiency through better service delivery, assessing and assisting with updating a ten-year old service management system sorely in need of updates to automated processes.

The need for the multilateral system to visibly help the world reach the SDGs and ride the existing crisis like COVID, Climate or Ukraine has never been so high. It needs a UNICC which delivers both reliable value for money IT services and agile digital innovative solutions. At 50, UNICC’s human force mixes the right balance between expertise and dynamism to chart an exciting course together.

Fabrice Boudou, Director of IT Solutions Division, World Trade Organization and Chair of the UNICC Management Committee

ServiceNow service management now
WTO is a long-time consumer of UNICC digital business solutions across the technology landscape. They were one of the first to leverage UNICC’s partnership with ServiceNow for end-to-end service management business needs in the cloud.

WTO ServiceNow interface. Credit: WTO

The UNICC ServiceNow solution, with full cloud security, UN system cost efficiencies through its strategic agreements and full business process support, allows organizations like WTO to digitize and automate siloed processes, dramatically improving the service management experience across the organization.

The platform optimizes processes, connects data and organizational entities and accelerates innovation at scale with a single platform for digital business. On top of this monitoring and reporting tools mean that WTO has metrics at their fingertips to meet indicators with quality performance data.

From WTO’s initial objective to migrate the legacy ITSM solution to a market leading solution like ServiceNow, UNICC has been the perfect partner to allow us to meet this objective. And to go far beyond. Going out on our own to manage such a project was not feasible in terms of budget nor resources necessary. The UNICC ServiceNow team has filled the missing gap. With UNICC, a fast and efficient path became available to migrate the legacy solution and improve many ITSM processes while providing valuable additional data invisible before but critical for ITSM governance.

Ronald Jans, Head of IT Services Branch
WTO ServiceNow data monitoring. Credit: WTO

Benefits and features of the new system include:

  • Incident management
  • Request fulfillment
  • Knowledge management
  • CMDB and configuration management
  • Centralized service catalog and its management
  • Problem management
  • Change management
  • Asset management
  • Portal for end users
  • Workflow automation (approvals, delivery)
  • Measurement of SLAs
  • Reports and dashboard.

WTO had UNICC come on in 2021 to begin the process of upgrading the service management support ecosystem. The IT division was an obvious place to start, with its global support of the organization with its service management and help desk. The legacy system was replaced with the ServiceNow cloud platform immediately putting an end to manual and duplicative processes, even managing service issues through emails.

The UNICC ServiceNow team played a key role in supporting and guiding the WTO team all along, during the analysis and development of the solution, at times challenging existing practices, so as to identify where processes could be improved. UNICC also committed resources at a substantial level to ensure the WTO Service Centre team were comfortable and confident to hit the ground running once WTO’s ServiceNow went live. This contributed to the WTO Service Centre team’s being fully on board ahead of implementation and was a strong factor in its success.

Colette O’Byrne, Systems and Operations Engineer

The UNICC team first started working on the deployment of ServiceNow for other Clients in 2020, in line with current best practices and industry standards. This framework can be replicated, tailored and implemented for any other UN Agencies. The platform was designed, configured, and deployed so that WTO, as with others, could easily integrate the framework for its own ITSM frameworks.

The project involved:

  • Assessing the environment and sharing requirements
  • Setting up a portal for end users
  • Providing a centralized service catalog
  • Ensuring workflow automation of approvals and delivery
  • Measuring SLAs
  • Streamlining the incident management process
  • Ensuring request fulfillment and knowledge management processes
  • Migrating existing data and business processes replication
  • Overseeing CMDB and configuration management as well as service catalog management processes
  • Integrating problem management and change management modules.
WTO ServiceNow ticket resolution data. Credit: WTO

Development work continued throughout the second half of 2021 and the project was delivered in six months, having the go-live on January 2022, including all of the deliverables set out in the multi-phase plan. WTO is further developing its ITSM practice by building a configuration management database (CMdB )with its associated processes.

UNICC’s professional requirements analysis, documentation and project management practices ensured success, with ongoing coordination, follow-up meeting and effective and open communication channels. The two teams were then able to validate and meet WTO’s expectations, with timely and successful delivery of expected services.

WTO is gradually extending ITSM to Enterprise Service Management. They have and are still integrating other service delivery areas such as HR, Facilities, and Language services into ServiceNow, copying the success of the ITSM implementation, combined with an internal strategy of working towards a central Service Management facility for any user request or issue – the same tool for all and the same team to coordinate for all. In areas of service management and delivery, when addressing new demands, this has led to WTO adopting a “ServiceNow first” approach – considering at the outset if ServiceNow could be the best-fit solution.

Coupled with a procurement effort to source the service centre from a lower cost base, WTO is well on the way to a real digital transformation in how internal business solutions and services are delivered to its staff.

WTO was adaptive, flexible and keen to replicate the successes seen at UNICC from the ServiceNow platform. UNICC has helped in this way to establish ServiceNow as a leading industry platform for IT and asset management processes for the UN family.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

UNICC at International Day of the Girl 2022

UNICC partnered with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, Infosys Foundation USA, and Micro:bit Educational Foundation to host a special, in-person event on 13 October to celebrate International Day of the Girl 2022, bringing together 70 women and girls in science, technology and/or innovation at Infosys Foundation USA HQ in New York City. The theme of International Day of the Girl 2022 is “Our time is now– our rights, our future.”

As the International day of the Girl celebrates its tenth anniversary, this collaborative event focuses attention on the momentous achievements and progress for girls across the world and more crucially, reaffirms the commitments of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. In these last ten years, there has been increased attention on issues that matter to girls among governments, policymakers and the general public, with increasing opportunities for girls to have their voices heard on the global stage.

It was incredibly energizing to work with such dedicated and caring individuals who are truly committed to providing young students with the confidence, skills, and mentorship they need to launch successfully into the future.  All of the pieces came together, and the students benefited tremendously. Some of them spoke in front of a large group for the first time in their lives, and now that they have ventured outside of their comfort zones, the next time they have to speak in front of a large group of strangers, the hurdle will be a little lower.

Dr. Joann Halpern, Design Thinking Facilitator and Director, Hasso Plattner Institute

Agenda 2022

The event convened girls and women from the private sector, the UN, NGOs and academia to meet and be inspired by one another, participate in fun ice-breaker activities, discuss the themes of International Day of the Girl and engage in a science/technology/innovation-related hands-on activity. 

The program primarily featured a design thinking session designed and facilitated by Lee Kim and Dr. Joann Halpern, in close collaboration with Katie Henry from the Micro:bit Educational Foundation. 

The event began with welcoming remarks by Katherine Maloney, Executive Director, Infosys Foundation USA, and Ursula Wynhoven, the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Representative to the United Nations. Both emphasized the importance of celebrating innovation in the process of implementing the SDGs and continuing to highlight the contributions of girls and women in the science and technology spaces globally. Infosys Foundation USA colleagues shared advice for the girls to follow their dreams, to not allow for anyone to define their limitations and to recognize their experiences as valuable.

Credit: ITU and UNICC

Empathy and design thinking

Next, facilitators Lee Kim, Dr. Joann Halpern and Katie Henry provided an introduction to design thinking. Design thinking, which the facilitators described as a team-based method to solve complex problems that are human centered, is an iterative and collaborative process that girls and women would try in practice that afternoon.

There were so many amazing ideas. What really touched my heart was that I could feel that they really cared about the person that they designed for. And that is what leaders do. They care. They care enough to do something.

Lee Kim, Design Thinking Facilitator

Dr. Halpern provided an example of how Doug Dietz, an Innovation Architect at the Health Department of General Electric, sought to redesign the MRI machine after realizing that the machine experience was incredibly terrifying for children during hospital visits. The key idea the facilitators emphasized for design thinking is that empathy is fundamental to designing an experience or product that is helpful and useful for users.

Photo: UNICC/ Ouyang

With girls and women mentors in science, technology and/or innovation seated in groups they began to work on their hands-on design thinking activity. Their first design challenge was for each participant to build a duck out of six pieces of Lego with a time constraint.

The main takeaway for many of the girls was that their designed ducks were all unique and different. Thus, when it comes to engaging in the design process, creativity and curiosity can only be fostered without judgment and with an appreciation for the uniqueness that each individual brings to a potential solution.

Craft and design thinking

For the rest of the design thinking activity, the girls were tasked with how they might leverage technology to ensure a better life for other girls. Both the girls and women mentors were presented with three stories about challenges young girls were facing.

After deciding which story to focus the solution on, girls and mentors could incorporate the use of a micro:bit (a pocket-sized computer that makes learning coding easy and fun) to bring their ideas to life.

The groups carried out their design thinking activity using a variety of craft materials to make a model and also discussed how the micro:bit technology could be used to make their model more powerful.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

Each group then had a representative that shared back with the full group on what their group had discussed. Solutions included:

  • An application that recommends friends and those in one’s network to a translating service to help mitigate loneliness
  • A virtual room that fosters feeling of comfort and connection with family members
  • A website to stop bullying by stories of those who went through bullying
  • An alerting mechanism via Micro:bit to alert trusted authorities at schools and adults to stop bullying
  • An information system for one to choose to be someone else or be yourself and experience life from different perspective.
Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

The event culminated with a group photo and an ice cream social that opened the space for attendees to conduct office hours with Infosys mentors. All student attendees received their own micro:bit to keep and were invited to socialize as well as to chat with Infosys mentors who were ready to support the girls with coding their micro:bit for the solutions they designed during the design thinking activity.

The event was well-received by attendees and provided a day filled with inspiration and empowerment for facilitators, mentors, teachers, students, and colleagues at partner organizations alike. The commemoration of the tenth anniversary of IDG is a continual reminder that while significant progress has been made for girls’ rights across the world, investments in girls’ rights remain limited and girls continue to confront a myriad of challenges to fulfilling their potential.

This has especially been made worse by concurrent crises of climate change, COVID-19 and humanitarian conflicts. Girls around the world continue to face unprecedented challenges to their education, their physical and mental wellness, and the protections needed for a life without violence.

Now more than ever, it is necessary to continue bringing girls and women into the conversation to address the existing inequalities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and to focus on how their perspectives within the technology spaces can help to amplify progress as well as SDG implementation.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

The event was made possible and in collaboration with colleagues from ITU, WIPO, NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, Infosys Foundation USA, and Micro:bit Educational Foundation. 

Photo: UNICC

UNICC’s Chief Technology Officer Presents at Hyperledger Global Forum

Hyperledger-UNICC partnership solidifies blockchain solutions for the UN family

UNICC continues to leverage an excellent partnership with Hyperledger for blockchain solutions for its Clients and Partner Organizations. Shashank Rai, Chief Technology Officer at UNICC, once again attended the Hyperledger Global Forum, this year in Dublin, Ireland. Shashank delivered a talk called ‘Blockchain, Biometrics and Geo-location: Lessons Learned from UNJSPF Innovative Technologies’ on 13 September.

Hyperledger is a not-for-profit entity, which has been created in particular to foster different blockchain solutions. It was formed by Linux Foundation so that all the different tech companies could collaborate on the development process of the Linux operating system. Due to the big success of this model, it has been replicated in a different number of other foundations.

Shashank, Rai, UNICC Chief Technology Officer

Hyperledger forum session: lessons learned from the Digital CE rollout

The context of the talk was the UNJSPF-UNICC project begun in January 2021, in accordance with the Pension Fund’s digital transformation strategy, to deploy a Digital Certificate of Entitlement solution, based on blockchain, biometrics and smart phone technologies, to transform their legacy pension certification and distribution process with their global reach of 80K beneficiaries located in more than 195 countries.

UNJSPF beneficiaries are required to sign and submit a Certificate of Entitlement every year as a ‘proof of existence’ and “proof of country of residence,’ to continue receiving their benefits. The UNJSPF Digital CE solution aims to create, verify, and secure the digital identities of beneficiaries – while also preventing fraud – using biometrics; identifying their locations with geo-location technology; and storing transactions on an immutable, traceable and independently auditable ledger, using the Hyperledger Indy blockchain platform.

Shashank emphasized the lessons learned after the first year of implementation of the Digital CE solution, addressing both technical and process related aspects of the deployment. This solution was selected as a finalist of two prestigious awards: The 2021 UN-Secretary-General’s award for innovation and sustainability; and the 2020 Gartner’s Eye on Innovation Awards for Government.

Other UNICC-Hyperledger collaboration opportunities

Public sectors entities such as the government of British Columbia (Canada) and U.S. state of Rhode Island are in various stages of implementing decentralized identities for their respective jurisdictions. UNICC has identified various areas of collaboration and exchange of ideas/experiences with these bodies.

About Hyperledger

Hyperledger is an open global ecosystem for enterprise grade blockchain technologies. It was created with the aim of accelerating industry-wide collaboration for developing high-performance and reliable blockchain and distributed ledger-based technology framework.

Any business can apply various modular blockchain solutions and services to significantly improve the performance of its operations and the efficiency of its business processes.


UNICC: Ouyang


The 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 77) opened on Tuesday 13 September 2022. The United Nations in New York welcomed world leaders to high level debates for deliberation and policy-making from Tuesday 20 September to Monday 26 September. As the main policy-making organ of the United Nations, the UNGA provides the opportunity for multilateral discussions on a range of international issues covered by the United Nations Charter (see Meetings Coverage and Press Releases).

Throughout the UNGA’s duration, various events took place to foster deliberation and collaboration across private and public spheres as well as in civil society, to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s theme ‘A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges’, convened leaders to discuss the shared roots of crises such as COVID-19, climate change and conflict– and to collaborate on solutions that build global sustainability and resilience.

Data and Digital Transformation

With the UNGA underway, UNICC’s Director Sameer Chauhan attended a social impact event sponsored by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Github called “Accelerating National Digital Transformation Through Data: Beta Launch the Digital Development Compass’ on Friday 16 September. At this side-event focusing on a new and innovative Digital Development Compass dashboard, Chauhan met with representatives from other UN entities as well as high-level executives from Microsoft.

Speakers at this session included Robert Opp, UNDP Chief Digital Officer; H.E. Iurie Turacnu, Deputy Prime Minister of Digitalization of the Republic of Moldova; Alex Wong, Chief Special Initiatives, Office of the Director at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU); Yu Ping Chan, the Senior Programme Officer at the Office of the Secretary- General’s Envoy on Technology; and Mala Kumar, the Director of Tech for Social Good at Github.

The Digital Development Compass dashboard was built by GitHub’s Skills-Based Volunteering Program and is a first-of-its-kind tool to aggregate all publicly available data on countries’ digital development in one dashboard to further enable digital transformation.

The Digital Development Compass dashboard is now in its beta phase and uses UNDP’s inclusive, whole-of-society approach to assess countries’ digital transformation scores, identify gaps and recommend improvements. This makes national progress on digital transformation easier and faster than ever. By being a part of these conversations, UNICC furthers its ability to learn from other organizations and provide its expertise to help in the development of collaborative multilateral projects.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

Roundtable on Digital Cooperation

On Monday 19 September, Chauhan was accompanied by Anusha Dandapani, Chief, Data and Analytics Services, Anish Sethi, Chief, Clients and Projects, and David Damian Sandoval, Innovation and Outreach Officer, to take part in a Roundtable on Digital Cooperation hybrid event with UN Secretary General’s Tech Envoy Amandeep Gill and other stakeholders regarding the Global Digital Compact process and other priorities on the global digital cooperation agenda.

Diversity of perspective only way to ensure we are building the right solutions. UNICC is committed to being an example to the world to show what the UN system is doing and prove the point that if we are building technologies the right way with the right outcomes, then it is more than possible.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Singapore, the World Wide Web Foundation and the Office of the Tech Envoy convened the event, attended by representatives of various UN entities and NGOs. This roundtable opened with USG Gill presenting on the three pillars of Digital Cooperation and an open floor discussion for all participants to share digital priorities in the multilateral and international space.

Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

Chauhan took the floor to explain UNICC’s role and work in digitalization development across the UN system.

Photo: Diplo Foundation

UNICC Joins Geneva-based Organizations in Diplo Foundation’s Digital Atlas 2.0

UNICC is proud to be a participant in the Geneva-based Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), a Geneva-based collaboration space for technology governance, policy and innovation towards digital growth across the UN family.

Geneva Internet Platform – ‘where technology meets humanity’

Initiated by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) of Switzerland in 2014, GIP provides a neutral and inclusive space for digital policy debates, recognized by many global stakeholders as a platform where different views can be voiced.

Striving to conduct outreach beyond existing policy silos in technology, security, and human rights research spheres, GIP supports and reinforces opportunities for collaboration between sectors, initiatives and institutions across the technology sector.

Diplo Education Foundation – global diplomacy at its best

The GIP is operated by Diplo Education Foundation, which works to improve the role of small and developing states in global diplomacy and the capacity of international development in the field of Internet governance and digital policy. They do this by training officials through online courses, workshops and simulation exercises; developing capacity on Internet governance, cybersecurity, data, artificial intelligence, and other emerging tech issues; and promoting and developing digital tools for inclusive and impactful governance and policy-making. 

Digital Atlas 2.0 – Digital policy and services inventory for Geneva

The GIP launched the Geneva Digital Atlas in November 2020, as a comprehensive mapping of the digital policy scene in International Geneva. It provides in-depth coverage of the activities of almost 40 stakeholders, also featuring tours combining virtual and physical experiences in dealing with standardization, data, cybersecurity, and other pressing issues.

The Digital Atlas 2.0, includes Geneva-based organizations such as Child Rights Connect, CERN, the CyberPeace Institute, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Geneva Science-Policy Interface, ICT for Peace Foundation, International Organization for Standardization, IFRC, IGF, Kofi Annan Foundation, UNHRC, UNIDRI, UNRISD, The United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development, University of Geneva, WEF, as well as UNICC and many of its Clients: ILO, IPU, ITC, IOM, ITU, OCHA, OHCHR, UNCTAD, UNECE, UNHCR, UNOG, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO and many more.

UNICC contribution

UNICC was included in 2020 and was invited again to participate in 2022. See the UNICC entry here. As a key stakeholder in the technology ecosystem in Geneva, UNICC was a logical participant in the Digital Atlas 2.0. The Atlas showcases Geneva-based organizations regarding the impact of technology and the implementation of the SDGs.   

The GIP and its Digital Atlas 2.0 is used by Swiss authorities to highlight the digital importance of Geneva to the UN system and the world in general. GIP continues to deliver their mapping as a leading, know-how database of digital activity in the Geneva ecosystem. As a Swiss supported foundation, Diplo’s long-term aspirations strive to maintain and extend upon Geneva’s existing and thriving tech-ecosystem.  

As UNICC is currently positioned as a preferred operational and shared services Centre of Excellence for the UN system, its placed in the Digital Atlas is secure and remains an opportunity to continue its outreach and advocacy efforts to work with others in delivering on UN system mandates. UNICC, as a participant in the Digital Atlas 2.0, is committed to delivering reliable digital services driven by best practices, offering world-class technology, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and a system-wide cross-domain experience of knowledge and data, enabling its Clients and Partners Organizations to achieve their Sustainable Development Goals.

Photo: UN

UNICC Supports FAO Conferencing Needs for its 170th Council Session

UNICC partnered with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to plan, set up, and integrate a reliable, scalable and user-friendly virtual conference platform for FAO’s 170th Council session.

On June 13th, 2022, the first day of the Council, the hybrid platform setup ensured that representatives attending in person at FAO’s headquarters in Rome and others joining virtually had a seamless conference experience.

Leveraging FAO’s previous conferencing platform and experience, UNICC worked over the course of eight weeks with 6Connex, a leading virtual event platform, to provide FAO’s Meeting Services Branch (CSGM) with a virtual conference environment with UNICC project management and support services essential to hosting Council sessions.

More than 600 delegates attended the Council through the virtual platform during the five days of the Governing Body.

I wanted to say a huge thank you for all the support you provided for the 170th session of the Council. All the preparatory work, together with your dedication and effective communication with participants ensured a smooth fruition of the Virtual Platform for all Members. Looking forward to future opportunities of collaboration.

Sergio Ferraro, Deputy Director, Governing Bodies Servicing Division at FAO.

During the conference, UNICC’s Conference Support team helped to expand FAO’s channels to support remote delegates by operating a multilingual live-chat module which the joint team tailored to FAO’s requirements and integrated into the Council’s conference virtual environment.

Credit: FAO

The UNICC-FAO support team also created a standalone instance of the live-chat module, accessible to all delegates for exceptional circumstances (such as not being able to access the platform)– allowing delegates to access content outside of the conference’s virtual environment. The solution replaced FAO’s previous support model, comprised of Help Desk services confined to a particular virtual room in the Council’s environment, with limited customization, an email ticketing system and a telephone line.

The professionalism, dedication, creativity and cooperation of the UNICC team were fantastic! We shared a very good and positive team spirit, working together as one team towards a common goal. And it was a success.

Elisa Milanesio, Conference Officer, Governing Bodies Servicing Division at FAO

By fully integrating the live-chat module into the virtual environment hosted in the 6Connex platform, UNICC ensured instant access to support for all remote delegates across the virtual environment, thus realizing a more comprehensive and rapid support channel.

UNICC and FAO also provided the live-chat platform and support to:

  • Guide remote delegates across the virtual environment
  • Resolve registration and technical issues
  • Direct delegates to relevant documentation and agenda items available in the virtual environment and on the Council’s website
  • Streamline and troubleshoot virtual access to the Council’s plenaries taking place in the virtual environment via Zoom integration.

In addition to dedicating two support agents from its own ranks, UNICC’s Conference Support team trained two FAO personnel as support agents who in tandem provided multilingual support to remote delegates in the FAO’s six languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish).

UNICC and FAO teams, together with the 6Connex platform team, collaborated extensively throughout the partnership. They met regularly to review work done and sync on the required actions for the implementation and customization of the live chat tool in 6Connex.

UNICC secured the 6Connex license and project management services for the implementation of the Council’s session, secured the license for, integrated and operated the live-chat platform, providing first level support to remote delegates, chiefly in the area of access to the virtual environment.

FAO led the effort to build and populate the virtual rooms of the Council’s virtual environment, managed delegates’ entitlements and access privileges, offered support to onsite delegates and provided and managed the Zoom tenant for the virtual component of the Council’s plenary sessions.

According to the live-chat platform data, 175 chats were supported on the days of the Council, aiding diplomats, ambassadors and country delegates with their access to the virtual venue. Through competent and regular analysis of requirements, documentation and project management practices, coordination, follow-up meetings and effective communication channels, UNICC’s Conference Support team was able to validate and meet FAO’s expectations for this digital diplomacy engagement and guarantee the timely delivery of expected services.

UNICC was the qualified and experienced partner that FAO sought at the onset of the project to deliver a smooth conference experience. This work was highly received through emails of Client appreciation.