Ana Ferrandiz and Esther Ferrer Presenting on a stage
Photo: UNICC/Ferrer

UNICC Women Celebrate International Women’s Day 2022 by Sharing Their Experience in Technology with High-School Students

UNICC Contributes to Representation Efforts to Inspire Girls and Teenagers to Pursue a Career in STEM

UNICC is committed to bringing gender parity, diversity and inclusiveness into the digital business field. Representation and role models are crucial to reduce stereotypes of underrepresented groups; children need to see people with whom they can personally relate to envision themselves in similar paths.

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2022, UNICC was invited by the United Nations Information and Communication Technology Facility (UNICTF) to participate in a ‘Women in STEM’ event to encourage more girls and young women to pursue a career in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). 

During this event, celebrated on 8 March, UNICC women together with colleagues from other UN Agencies including UNICEF, UNICTF and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) gave talks in several high-schools in Valencia, Spain, home to UNICC’s largest office and the organization’s Digital and Cyber Centres of Excellence. 

The experience was awesome! The 15 and 16-year-old students were very interested in learning more about our careers and asked a lot of questions. 

Matilde Gil, Network Infrastructure Architect, UNICC
Photos: UNICC/Gil and UNICC/Ferrer

Participants shared with students how it is to be a woman in the field of STEM, what their daily jobs consists of and what career path they followed, raising awareness about different opportunities in technology. Students were able to interact with these technologists and some even envisioned themselves following a career in STEM they had never considered before. 

Photo: IPPC Secretariat

IPPC ePhyto Solution, Four Years In

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat, with continuous support and expertise from UNICC, has developed an ePhyto solution to bring plant-protection phytosanitary certification for international trade into the digital era. The ePhyto solution, now four years underway, allows a growing number of countries to electronically exchange ePhytos with each other, quickly, accurately and at low cost.

EPhyto is short for “electronic phytosanitary certificate”. All the information contained in a paper phytosanitary certificate is also in the ePhyto. The risk of loss, damage or fraud to ePhyto certificates is greatly reduced, as is the administrative burden on both border agencies and business. The collaborative nature of the project paves the way for countries to exchange other types of data with trading partners.

Countries can either produce ePhytos and exchange them with the UNICC ePhyto Hub directly via their own national platforms or they can use the IPPC’s web-based application, the General ePhyto National System (GeNS). Benefits of a globally harmonized approach through the ePhyto Solution:

  • Globally harmonized approach for for electronic phytosanitary certification (ePhyto) in accordance with an adopted International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 12 Phytosanitary Certificates
  • Reduced potential for fraudulent certificates
  • Reduced data entry and validation activities by national plant protection organizations (NPPO) improving efficiencies
  • Improved security in the transmission of certificates when compared with paper certificates
  • Efficiencies in arrival and clearance of plants and plant products at the point of entry
  • Reduced delays in receiving replacement phytosanitary certificates when required
  • Use of existing systems in facilitating electronic certification reduces development costs
  • Reduced bilateral agreements required for direct NPPO to NPPO transfer of electronic certificates
  • Potential to link with the World Customs Organization “Single Window” initiative and to harmonize codes and processes.

Four Years of ePhyto – A Technical Review

The ePhyto Hub was first released in December 2017. As we celebrate four years of the ePhyto solution, looking at its journey helps us to understand its growth and demonstrates its importance in facilitating paperless trade between countries.

Starting with four pilot countries in 2017, today there are 62 countries who are successfully exchanging Phytosanitary Certificates through the Hub, abandoning point-to-point connections and adopting the standards, with over 40 more countries who have registered and are at different stages in their implementation. The system in the last year has seen a monthly average of ~107,000 messages processed, with 92% of them confirmed as readable information from the destination NPPO systems.

Image


Figure 1 – Traffic growth over the years (green is exchanging; orange is testing).

The IPPC is the product owner and the ePhyto Steering Group (ESG) is the agile team supporting various implementations and actively participating in the innovation and scaling of the solution. The team has been getting valuable feedback for continuous improvements, enhanced functionalities and new features through its stakeholders (NPPO focal points), user community groups and implementation partners. This active participation of the various stakeholders is summed up below as 7 key product principles and features supported by as many as 40 big product releases over the last four years.

  • Flexible ePhyto Schema Mapping – The current ePhyto XML definition is built on top of the existing UNCEFACT schema, using mainly the SPS Certificate component. Due to ongoing efforts by ESG members Christian Dellis and Walter Alessandrini, as well as the UNICC team, developing countries find ePhyto data much easier to use. This focus on specific ePhyto needs has reduced potential misinterpretations, while at the same time leaving enough flexibility to quickly ramp-up integrations of new countries. By moving from a point-to-point and bi-lateral logic protocol to a standardized and practical approach, the ePhyto System has eliminated most problems associated with paper Phytosanitary certificates.
  • Comprehensive API and On-boarding Guides – Fortunately, the Hub web services API document and on-boarding guides were ready from day one, which meant all countries had the information they needed to join the Hub, use web services, configure their access and independently integrate their systems. Because of the leveraging of client code samples of the API document, experienced software development teams have been able to send test messages, which are then validated, piloting integration within the Hub test environment.
  • Automated Validation of Messages – With the introduction of the Validation Tool in July 2018, the quality of exchanged messages has greatly improved. Hub Web Services, which is now integrated into many countries’ systems, provides validation of the ePhyto System and reports on issues that previously caused reading problems for receiving countries. It gives constant feedback to sending countries on how to improve the quality of a message. Countries using Hub Web Services can automatically communicate error messages and/or warnings to each other.
  • Asynchronous/Message-driven Architecture – The Hub web services are built on RedHat JBoss using ActiveMQ for the most demanding operations. The system design supports scalability and capacity to handle high volume of messages. Many a times the monitoring systems have highlighted heavy loads which the system has effectively handled without any glitches. The use of queues and asynchronous processing, combined to multi-site replication, has been critical to balance the computing load, avoid any data loss and maintain the availability of the system.
  • Backward-compatible Releases – None of the incremental releases have been breaking existing operations. By providing backward compatibility, countries are confident during changes and have sufficient time to align their systems with the enhancements. Releases are published to the testing environment for user validation and confirmation. It is ensured that changes to Hub Web Services and ePhyto schema mapping are always backward compatible.
  • Implementation of the Generic ePhyto System (GeNS) – The GeNS is the second important tool to support the ePhyto solution especially in countries who do not have their own national systems. The progressive implementation of the GeNS in many countries has been another key drive for ePhyto adoption. The GeNS is currently used live by over a dozen countries and evaluated by many others for adoption. The GeNS has also helped in many ways like supporting countries without an electronic system, standardization of phyto sanitary certificates, centralized management and making business processes efficient. A dedicated post needs to surely follow to elaborate and emphasize the utility of GeNS.
  • Single Windows and “Channel” Connections – The implementation of Channel distribution to support multi-countries delegation, multi entity connections and envelope forwarding is considered a breakthrough feature. Early adoption of ePhyto by EU countries has played a significant role, increasing overall traffic across the globe. Subsequent enhancements to support electronic signatures (eSeals), implemented by GeNS and available to all countries as part of a standard setup, have been another motivation for on-boarding countries to use GeNS. The integration of the Hub with the European Union system (TRACES) helps handle the sending and receiving of phytosanitary certificates for 26 EU countries through a single source.

IPPC-UNICC Teamwork

This journey would not have been possible without the support of many key stakeholders and members from the product delivery team, also acknowledging the support from the IPPC Secretariat and members of the ESG.

The ePhyto program is a successful example of global digital transformation and an important tool supporting international plant trade.

Photo: WIPO

Innovation and New Technologies for Intellectual Property Systems

WIPO and UNICC Explore Enhanced Collaboration Opportunities in Valencia, Spain

Tima Soni, Chief, Cybersecurity Division at UNICC, welcomed WIPO Director-General Daren Tang on 12 February to UNICC’s offices in Valencia, on his three-day visit to Spain. 

Director-General Tang and the UNICC team toured the offices at the UN Global Service Centre (UNGSC), the UN permanent logistics base. They discussed UNICC’s Centre of Excellence and the increasingly forward-looking technology services like UN Community Cloud, cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence that UNICC offers to its over 80 Clients and Partner Organizations.

UNICC has been providing services to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for nearly 50 years. Now, culminating in this visit, the two organizations are exploring new ways to strengthen this long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship. WIPO is also part of UNICC’s Advisory Group and among the top three Partner Organizations contributing to UNICC’s budget. 

UNICC, regarded as a strategic partner by WIPO, is already enabling the organization through multiple services.

WIPO visiting Valencia UN Base
Photos: UNGSC/Puertas and UNICC/Gil

As part of the tour, Director-General Tang visited UNICC’s Common Secure Operations Centre, where a specialized unit of cybersecurity practitioners monitors, analyzes and responds to cybersecurity events threatening the UN family.

It was an honour for us at UNICC to welcome WIPO’s Director-General Daren Tang to the UN Base in Valencia, home to our largest office and our Digital and Cyber Centres of Excellence. Thanks to the Spanish Government, the Valencian Community and the UNGSC for organizing and hosting this event.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

WIPO is the global forum for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation. With 193 member states, its mission is to lead the development of a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. 

Director-General Tang showed appreciation for UNICC’s tailored digital business solutions supporting the organization’s technology and business units and encouraged UNICC to keep pushing the boundaries in building next-generation technology solutions for the UN family.UNICC would like to thank the UN GSC for organizing Director-General Tang’s visit to the UN Support Base in Valencia.

People fleeing Ukraine enter Poland at the Medyka border crossing. Besides the efforts of national authorities and humanitarian agencies, Polish citizens and local organizations have come out in force to support the new arrivals.
Photo: UNCHR/Chris Melzer

UNICC Statement on the Conflict in Ukraine

UNICC is gravely concerned about the conflict unfolding in Ukraine and the wellbeing of the Ukrainian people. The humanitarian consequences of this quickly deteriorating situation on civilian populations are devastating and countless lives are being torn apart. ​​

Many of our Partner Organizations are providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance. If you would like to support the efforts of our sister Agencies on the ground, consider donating at this time of greatest need to:

  • UN Crisis Relief (OCHA) for Ukraine, delivering lifesaving aid at the front lines of the crisis
  • WFP, providing emergency food supplies to Ukrainian families
  • UNICEF, providing emergency response to children in Ukraine
  • UNHCR, ensuring Ukrainians forced to flee their homes are sheltered and safe
  • UN Women, protecting the needs of Ukrainian women and girls.

UNICC joins the UN Secretary-General Antó​nio Guterres in demanding an end to violence. We need peace.

UN Secretary General Guterres Speech at COP26
Photo: UN Climate Change/Worth

UNICC COP26 ID Check App Supports UN Climate Change Conference 

COP26 ID Check App Harnesses Biometrics for Secure, Efficient Identity Validation

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and UNICC developed an app for the identity verification of around 30,000 participants of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 that took place in Glasgow, Scotland, from 31 October to 12 November 2021. The COP26 ID Check app harnesses emerging technologies such as biometrics for a secure and efficient identity validation process.

Participants use the application to register for attendance to the sessions. The COP26 ID Check app leverages facial recognition technology to compare the photo of a scanned ID card with a selfie taken by the user to verify ID.

To start the ID validation process, the user, who needed to be registered in advance as a participant in the conference, was asked to log into the app with their credentials. They were then asked to scan an identification document, such as a passport, and to take a selfie. The app recognized the first name, last name and ID number in the scanned image, and then compared the facial features of the two headshots. If they matched, the user’s identity was validated. 

Registration through the COP26 ID Check app was required for all participants who joined official meetings through the COP26 Platform.

Credit: UNICC

Attendees that were at COP26 in person could also use the app to speed up their registration process at the venue. After validation, the app generated a unique barcode that a user could show at the registration desk to obtain a badge. 

Participants without a smartphone or with low mobile data bandwidth had the option to sign up on their desktop. The conference’s support staff were also available to help users validate their identity.

The technology that powers this app has been designed to avoid fraud and ensure a seamless user experience. Winner of the Reimagine the UN Together Challenge, this widely tested technology is the same technology behind the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF) Digital Certificate of Entitlement App, currently being used to streamline pension processes of thousands of retirees and beneficiaries. 

All registered participants, including representatives of the Parties to the Convention and Observer States, members of the media and representatives of observer organisations such as NGOs and IGOs, could verify their identity with the COP26 ID Check app any time before the start of the conference. 

The COP26 ID Check app was available at the Apple App Store, GooglePlay app store and as a desktop application. For training and support documents on the ID verification application and COP26 Platform UNFCCC and UNICC offered step-by-step guides

Photo: UNICC/Thomsen

UNICC Helps Secure UN Organizational Digital Identities with Common UN PKI Services

UN Agencies are striving to improve their digital identity management systems. As the digital business and technology shared services hub for the UN, UNICC is there to provide its expertise in securing the right solutions for each UN Agency’s particular needs.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a framework that enables the integration of various digital identity services based upon cryptography, which is the use of secure communications techniques that allow only senders and intended recipients of messages to view message contents. The objective is to provide confidentiality, integrity, access control, authentication and most importantly, non-repudiation (ensuring that no party can deny that it sent or received a message via encryption and/or digital signatures).

PKI represents a combination of encryption and authentication, making online communications trustworthy, within a secure infrastructure.

People use ID cards (non-driver’s/driver’s license, passport, employee ID badge) as a means to prove their identity. A certificate has the same basic purpose in the electronic world except for a difference: certificates are issued to people, computers, software packages or to anything to show proof of identity.

UNICC Partner Organizations, through the UNICC Management Committee, committed to an R&D project to explore PKI shared services for subscribing UN Agencies. UNICC proceeded to develop a solution, also with inputs and collaboration from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Eventually, a UN system-wide PKI service was developed that would:

  • Provision the Root Certification Authority for the UN system.
  • Provision subordinate Certification Authorities for UNICC Clients interested in participating.

As a result, UNICC is now managing the root Certificate Authority (CA) for the UN system, which pertains to active subscribers and any other UN Agencies to leverage PKI services.

UNICC’s Common UN PKI Service
The Common UN PKI service is a combination of authentication and encryption to make online communication more secure for UN Agencies who subscribe to the service. The system relies on machines that issue the certificate and the people that manage them (for the UNICC service, this is the UNICC Security team and UN Agency focal points). For a certificate to be granted, the system requires a name, country, city, location, contact person and the organization to which the person belongs. Certificates authenticate the senders or recipients of information.

PKI requires several different elements for effective use. A Certificate Authority is used to authenticate the digital identities of the users, which can range from individuals to computer systems to servers. Certificate Authorities prevent falsified entities and manage the life cycle of any given number of digital certificates within the system.

UNHCR, WTO and UN Women have subscribed to UNICC’s Common UN PKI service, aiming to protect communications between each organization’s servers (their websites) and the clients (the users). With these PKI systems in place, Partner Organizations can ensure that their data and information are thoroughly protected from cyber threat and breaches. UNICC’s security team is proud to manage this project to continue the work of keeping UN colleagues safe online.

Just like people’s IDs, the certificates are issued by a source that the server knows and trusts so as to accept a machines’ certificate as proof of its identity, providing trust and security for all message transfer across organizational infrastructures for each of the subscribing Agencies.

Photo: Oxfam Australia

Small Island States Meet Virtually on Climate Change with UNICC Conference Management Services

AOSIS Countries Virtual Meetings to Prepare for Climate Change Conference COP26

Small islands and low-lying territories are vulnerable to a host of climate change effects, including sea-level rise and extreme weather events that devastate communities every year and put these countries at risk of annihilation. 

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group that represents the interests of 39 small island and coastal developing states in international negotiations and processes, met last summer in a series of sessions to coordinate and prepare their participation in the November Climate Change Conference COP26. The meetings were held virtually with the support of UNICC’s conference management services team.

Antigua and Barbuda, current chair of AOSIS, reached out to UNICC after being part of a successful delivery of a virtual meeting solution for thousands of participants at UN Climate Change Subsidiary Bodies meetings. AOSIS required virtual conferencing services to support the AOSIS Regional Coordination Meetings of the Caribbean, Pacific and African, Indian Ocean and South China Sea. A total of 48 hours of virtual meetings took place between July and August and included hundreds of participants. 

UNICC delivered a comprehensive solution of integrated platforms, from a Social27 registration mechanism and virtual venue homepage, to Microsoft Teams meeting rooms with live chat for participants. UNICC’s digital conference management solutions, a new service offering, was customized to suit AOSIS’ requirements.

AOSIS User Guide Pages
Credit: UNICC

Additionally, UNICC teams offered project management and quality assurance services, support management with LiveChat, as well as training, including training material, dry-run sessions for chairs and delegates, with coverage in different time zones.

Virtual conference management from UNICC suits current digital diplomacy and multilateralism needs. The impact of the global pandemic coupled with superior virtual tools and support means digital dialogues can take place remotely or in hybrid environments as well as physically in discrete locations.

The AOSIS alliance consolidates the voices of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to address international climate change and sustainable development. These island countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change and its related effects on the ocean, including sea level rise, coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion. 

The members are among the nations least responsible for climate change, having contributed less than one percent to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. These states advocate for international policy and mechanisms for addressing the inequity of climate impacts. 

UNICC’s virtual conference management solutions help AOSIS in meeting its Agenda 2030 goals around climate change.

Photo: Pexels/Orlova
virtual meeting climate change
Credit: UNFCCC

UN Climate Change Meetings Go Virtual with UNICC’s Support

Thousands of Participants Worldwide Join Virtual Subsidiary Bodies Sessions in Preparation for COP26

Following a year of limited meetings in 2020 due to COVID-19, the UN Climate Change Subsidiary Bodies met formally again in June 2021 through a high-quality virtual meeting solution supported by UNICC. From 31 May to 17 June, participants from around the world and across time zones engaged in hundreds of meetings to address the issues under negotiation.

The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) sessions were the first UN Climate Change meetings to take place in a virtual format, after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and UNICC partnered earlier in March 2021 to develop and deliver a state-of-the-art digital platform for climate change events, now that the pandemic is posing constraints on large-scale physical conferences and there is a need to reduce emissions.

When the global pandemic put a halt to our usual way of working – face-to-face, in conferences of up to 30,000 participants – we tried several platforms to keep our climate change process on track. It wasn’t until we partnered with UNICC that we were able to come up with a comprehensive solution that addresses every aspect of the user experience. Their vision and consistent, robust support gives us confidence that we can meet future needs in a virtual or hybrid world.

Laura Lopez, Director, Conference Affairs, UNFCCC

UNICC supported the delivery of a seamless conference management solution with single sign on for the different platforms. From guest registration to document management, the solution allowed organizers and participants to carry out the same activities as in a physical conference, and more. 

A virtual venue homepage welcomed registered guests and offered an overview of the event, with a schedule where each participant could see the meetings open to them with detailed information. The lobby was also the gateway to a networking lounge, individual and group chats, poster sessions and live support. 

The virtual venue consisted of one plenary hall with broadcast capabilities, as well as meeting rooms. All rooms had a floor management system that allowed for different speakers to contribute based on registration information, as well as video and microphone control, screenshare capabilities and a chat for participant. 

Virtual meeting solution
Credit: UNICC/Ouyang

UNICC services included not only supporting the technical implementation but also providing security governance, data protection and risk assessment services, ensuring full security and trust. UNICC was also part of a 24/7 service desk and a live chat available at all times during meetings, a feature highly appreciated by participants. 

The 2021 SBSTA and SBI sessions were aimed at making progress on several outstanding issues key to achieving success at the Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in November in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. UNICC was also the trusted partner for this conference, supporting UNFCCC’s mandate to step up the world’s response to climate change and become a leader in Digital Climate Diplomacy. 

UN Press Conference Technology
Photo: WHO/Blink Media – Nana Kofi Acquah

UNICC Continues Supporting the Global Covid-19 Response

UNICC has responded to the Covid-19 crisis with agile digital business solutions to support the UN family through various services and engagements. Since the start of the pandemic in 2019, UNICC has stepped up efforts to support all managed and shared services, delivering ongoing projects and helping with a significant increase in workload for its Clients.  

UNICC’s Covid-19 Pandemic Response campaign page gathers some of the services and projects delivered during the past two years in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the second year of the pandemic (2021) and into the third (2022), UNICC continues to support the UN family and related organizations with trusted services and digital business solutions, including the following.

UN Agencies Transition to Cloud-based Telephony

In 2021, UNICC helped up to ten UN Agencies and related organisations transition from conventional enterprise telephony systems to cloud-based solutions that allow users to make mobile, landline and international phone calls through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) connections.

UNICC has been acting as a key enabler for many Partner Organizations who wanted to adopt and modernize their enterprise voice solutions during the challenging times brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gabriel Galati, Head, Digital Workplace Services Unit, UNICC

UN Women and UNICC Amplify Women’s Voices for Safer Public Spaces During and Beyond the Pandemic

On 25 and 26 August 2021, over 25 women from the city of Guadalajara and its metropolitan area, in Jalisco, Mexico, engaged in a design thinking exercise to ideate and prototype digital solutions to make their city safer for women and girls. This event followed up on the Safe Cities for Women Thinkathon organized in November of 2020 by UN Women and UNICC that aspired to amplify women’s and girl’s voices and need for access to safe and inclusive public spaces during the pandemic and beyond, within the framework of the Safe Cities Programme.

Credit: UN Women and UNICC

New Bots Developed by PAHO and UNICC Assist the Procurement Process of Covid-19 Vaccines

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has added two Acquisitions Technician to their Procurement and Supply Management team, two new members that can work 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, year-round. Mia and Max are PAHO’s first ever bots, and they have been developed by UNICC’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) team alongside PAHO’s Procurement and IT teams.

The robots execute repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing the human team to forget about the paperwork and focus on strategic aspects of the procurement function. The bots help buyers with the purchase of strategic products, including Covid-19 vaccines for the American countries.

Other solutions developed and offered by UNICC to support its over 80 Clients and Partner Organizations during the past two years include the Crisis Communications App, a Microsoft-powered application for emergency notification, geolocation, information gathering and sharing capabilities for crisis management and communications; the Digital Academy, a centralised learning platform to provide digital and technology skills; secure virtual conferencing services; Business Continuity Planning services and electronic signature.

Credit: UNICC
Photo: UNICC

Bringing UNICC Digital Solutions to a Historic Climate Change Event in Glasgow, UK

Seven UNICC Teams including Virtual Meeting Provisioning, Cyber Security, Digital ID and Data Analytics Support the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference

As the climate emergency continues unabated, the need to facilitate global participation and engagement in the multilateral process on climate change remains as vital and urgent as ever. The United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) partnered with UNICC last year to optimise climate change events with digital business solutions.

When the global pandemic put a halt to our usual way of working – face-to-face, in conferences of up to 30,000 participants – we tried several platforms to keep our climate change process on track. It wasn’t until we partnered with UNICC that we were able to come up with a comprehensive solution that addresses every aspect of the user experience. Their vision and consistent, robust support gives us confidence that we can meet future needs in a virtual or hybrid world.

Laura Lopez, Director, Conference Affairs, UNFCCC

UNICC is honored to have served as a UNFCCC partner in delivering to pre-COP26 events, including the Subsidiary Body meetings in May – June 2021 as well as regional partner meetings such as those held by Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDC). In this capacity, UNICC brought forward a breadth of capabilities across Digital Business Advisory, Data and Analytics, Cyber Security, Event Management, Training, Governance and Technology Implementation to facilitate end-to-end platform identification and execution for over 1500 participants in virtual global negotiations.

UNICC digital solutions contributions to Subsidiary Bodies meetings
UNICC contributions to UNFCCC Virtual May-June Sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies

For Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021, UNICC once again performed as a cross-functional team to deliver innovative solutions across 8 key workstreams. These workstreams executed in less than 3 months toward commitments and in partnership with UNFCCC, the UK host country and multiple platform and professional service providers culminated in an historic COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.

UNICC digital solutions enabling COP26
UNICC enablement of UNFCCC COP26 November 2021, Glasgow, UK

COP26 brought together global leaders and over 40,000 participants between 31 October and 12 November to maintain momentum on prior climate change agreements and further commitments for those most impacted. 

Climate action is necessary and UNICC’s partnership with UNFCCC to provide direct support leading to the Glasgow Climate Pact at COP26 is exactly the union of purposeful work and digital solutions that will drive change in our world today. The ability to enable climate action by bringing together a “one UNICC” team showcasing our breadth of capabilities is a testament to the extraordinary talent and commitment within UNICC. 

Ninna Roco, Chief, Business Digital Solutions Officer, UNICC

UNICC provided cross-functional support through eight workstreams that worked in close collaboration with UNFCCC, both remotely and on site, before, during and after the conference. 

COP26 ID Check App – Providing Secure Verification to 30,000 Participants

The COP26 ID Check app, used to manage registration for the conference, leverages a suite of AI-powered mobile applications to issue virtual badges with bar code by capturing registered attendee facial biometrics against official ID photos. This technology developed by UNICC allowed a secure and efficient verification of thousands of COP26 participants, including representatives of the Parties to the Convention and Observer States, members of the media and representatives of observer organisations such as NGOs and IGOs. The business value from a pre-approved Digital ID verification was reduced registration and badge pick-up wait times by 50% for participants on site in Glasgow.

Virtual Meeting Provisioning – Enabling Participation and Negotiations at the Core of the Conference

COP26 is the first Climate Change conference necessitating virtual access to meetings and negotiations happening on site in Glasgow. UNICC’s Virtual Meeting Provisioning team provided integration across different systems involved in the hybrid events. The integration enabled the provisioning of meetings (creating and deploying different meetings including side events) critical to aligning COP26 participants on the issues. Through these integrations across the videoconferencing service (Webex/ Webex Legislate), role-based access and room reservation software (UNFCCC Grand Reserva) and meeting broadcasting technology, UNICC enabled participation in over 2000 additional meetings. 

Photo: UNFCCC

Data and Analytics – Conference Meeting Management Monitoring and Reporting 

UNICC’s Data and Analytics team was also engaged, to monitor and control all aspects of the meeting management, while satisfying host country requests. UNICC data extraction, cleansing and visualization skills resulted in the development of COP26 dashboards, reporting and survey providing participant statistics, event feedback and overall improved real-time visibility. The value recognized was immediate and the end users quickly expanded beyond UNFCCC Senior Management to also include UN Security teams for venue population management, UK host country organizers and UK health officials for health and safety monitoring.

User Support – Helping Participants Navigate the Technology

A dedicated support team with deep knowledge of the conference technology tools including the COP26 Platform and COP26 ID Check App was established to collaborate with the technical team during testing phases, as well as to help participants with ID validation and other questions throughout the conference. Support was available 24/7, starting ten days before the conference and throughout the whole event.

Cyber Security – Running a Secure Conference

UNICC worked hand in hand with UNFCCC’s ICT and Cyber Security teams to provide cyber security services for COP26, collecting security issues and risks, reviewing existing outsourced contracts and providing cyber security consultancy services. 

Before the conference, this workstream performed a security audit of the Microsoft Azure tenant hosting the COP26 platform, where all events took place. During the conference, the team also supported UNFCCC’s Security Operations Centre with a physical presence in Glasgow. 

UNICC team on site at COP26 to deliver digital solutions to UNFCCC
Photo: UNICC

Change Management and Participant Journey Mapping – A Customer Centric Approach for a Positive User Experience

The Change Management workstream was a crucial component for the overall success of the conference, providing inputs to all other UNICC and non-UNICC workstreams, especially to the Training and Support teams. 

UNICC’s Change Management team was in charge of articulating the COP26 vision, accelerate change acceptance and adoption of new hybrid conference approach. 

This workstream also delivered conference personas depicted into active participant journey maps to support clarity of overall requirements and scope.

Training – Supporting Participants’ Use of New Tools

The training team collaborated with UNFCCC, the host country government and other stakeholders involved in COP26 to ensure participants easily learned how to use the new technologies involved in Climate Change Conferences. In particular, UNICC’s contribution included quality assurance of training materials such as user instructions to access the COP26 platform.

In addition to the workstreams above, UNICC was invited by UNFCCC to provide on site physical presence across Digital Business Solutions, Cyber Security, Data and Analytics and Governance from 23 October through 15 November. In Glasgow, UNICC was able to provide management support and visibility in preparation for press conferences, issue remediation, COVID19 exception handling, training of UNFCCC substantive bodies, as well as strengthen and foster relationships. The onsite participation deepened UNICC knowledge of hybrid events furthering our overall experiences in Digital Diplomacy.

So many teams came together to understand what our business and ICT partners needed for successful meetings and negotiations. It is through this ability to be customer-centric and bring forth the deep knowledge and expertise of our teams and partners that most excites me about UNICC’s future.

Ninna Roco, Chief, Business Digital Solutions Officer, UNICC