Photo: UNRWA

UNRWA and UNICC Partnership Strengthens Common Objectives

UNRWA Consultants Grow in Number from 8 in 2020 to 50 Expert Resources Now

In June 2020, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) signed an agreement that aims to enhance opportunities for Palestine refugees in Gaza. With this agreement, UNRWA provided ICT and other skilled support staff to UNICC, allowing UNICC to leverage UNRWA’s cost-efficient resource model and, just as importantly, support UNRWA’s mission to deliver services to over 5 million refugees in the Middle East. With this agreement, UNICC has been able to benefit from the UNRWA expert resources from web development, cloud computing and communications to data science, project management and cyber security, as follows:

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Credit: UNRWA

We are excited to partner with UNRWA since it has given us the opportunity to find very talented young individuals to join various teams across UNICC. These new colleagues are very ably supporting various teams across all of UNICC, and we in return have the privilege of seeing them thrive and grow into their roles. These Gazan colleagues get to work across the UN system through UNICC and we, as an organization, get to do our bit to directly contribute to the UN SDGs.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

The Palestinian territories suffer from limited job creation with stubbornly high unemployment rates, hitting particularly youth and women. UNRWA’s partnership with UNICC is providing a chance for Palestine refugee youth as well as women of all ages, and it is contributing to UNRWA efforts to seed, grow and nurture talented resources among the refugee community.

UNRWA, as a UNICC Partner Organization, already subscribes to UNICC’s ICT services. This ICT services support partnership agreement brings closer collaboration between the two organizations, with ICT skills development and delivery being the new bridge for partnership. Now skilled and professional Palestinian ICT personnel at UNRWA can share their skills within the wider UN digital transformation efforts.

I believe that this is a great partnership providing livelihood opportunities in Gaza in the IT domain. This partnership allowed many young Gazans to pursue their career of choice while supporting their families. This is also a unique partnership where it shows how IT organisations evolve from being support organisations to those that directly contribute to Sustainable Development Goals.

Kaan Cetinturk, UNRWA CIO and Director of Information Management and Technology Department

From 1 June 2020 until 30 September 2021, almost a hundred skilled Palestinian professionals have had the opportunity to join UNICC in supporting the UN system. The journey started with eight people being on board and hard at work on interesting projects for UNICC Clients, with over 50 professionals working today with UNICC. 42% are female and 58% are male, also supporting the UN’s gender parity aims.

This allows UNICC to advance its own agenda on bringing more youth and women into the fold. Hani Cordiya, Head of the Information Technology Service Centre at UNRWA headquarters in Gaza, helped to forge this partnership, reporting to UNICC team leaders in Geneva, Switzerland, New York, USA and Brindisi, Italy.

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Credit: UNRWA

Collaborating with UNICC teams gives you the confidence to improve your skills and accomplish your goals. It also gives you a reason to challenge yourself and the obstacles that faced you, especially when you deliver work on time and see the Client satisfaction, with their confidence that their projects are in the right place. I am sure that becoming a member of the UNICC family was a most worthy decision.

Mai Ibaid, UI/UX Frontend Designer, UNICC
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Credit: UNRWA

Through this joint project, young, female and skilled Palestine refugees are able to contribute to the digital transformation of the UN in the digital business domain without the restrictions of geographic borders and strengthening UNICC’s capacity to deliver reliable ICT services driven by best practices.

This partnership has helped the Application Delivery team to make great strides in project start-up timelines, meeting implementation and completion deadlines, with cost-efficient and knowledgeable experts to round out our very busy App Dev team.

Venkat Venkateswaran, Head, Application Development Unit, UNICC

This partnership reflects UNICC’s substantive actions to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the areas of SDG 1 for no poverty, SDG 5 for gender equality, SDG 8 for decent work and economic growth and SDG 17 for partnerships to achieve the SDGs.

Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak

UNICC Partner Representatives Discuss the Organization’s Strategic Direction at 108th Management Committee Meeting

Partners Approve New Cyber Security Resilience Maturity Assessment Service

UNICC’s Management Committee (MC), the organization’s governance body comprised of representatives from 41 Partner Organizations, met fully virtually 13 and 14 October for the 108th MC meeting, the second of 2021. Fabrice Boudou, new MC Chair and Director of IT Solutions Division at WTO, chaired the meeting together with Vice Chair Anthony O’Mullane, Director, Information and Communications Technology Division (ICTD), Department of Field Support, United Nations.

On the first day, the sessions covered statutory business. UNICC Director Sameer Chauhan presented the Director’s Update with news on UNICC’s ongoing digital transformation as well as updates on a range of areas, including operations, network and cybersecurity, business, finance and more.

Three new Clients were presented: the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), UNDP India and UNDP Nigeria; as well as two new user organizations: the Commonwealth Secretariat and ID2020.

Statutory business covered updates on audits and compliance. Since the 107th MC meeting, UNICC has received the ISO/IEC 22301:2019 certification for Security and Resilience – Business Continuity Management Systems – Requirements.

UNICC’s Director informed attendees about the progress on the following professional services areas:

  • Digital solutions such as Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) services for hybrid and virtual conferences
  • Data and Analytics with a focus on Data Hub as a Service and Data Governance Framework efforts
  • Hyperautomation
  • UNICC adopting Agile methodologies for project and programme management
  • Shared digital solutions including the UN Digital ID, the Joint Sanctions Screening Solution, the UN Partner Portal, etc.

The RSI team is doing a great job! We are using their services regularly and are very happy with the professional support.

Christopher O’Connor, Chief, Information Management and Technology, OHCHR

The Management Committee received an update on how the organization is dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including working from home regulations and office staff thresholds, the continued use of the UNICC Crisis Communications App to manage staff location and the resources made available to the organization’s workforce to improve their wellbeing.

Sameer Chauhan followed with updates on the topics of greening UNICC, where indicators are being identified; gender balance efforts with the implementation of a Gender Parity Strategy to reach gender balance by the end of 2028; outreach opportunities including the visit of the Secretary-General to Valencia in July and the publication of the 2020 Director’s Report.

UNICC is launching its collaboration with UN Environment Programme’s Greening the Blue. We make a commitment to measure and improve our carbon footprint. We expect to be carbon neutral as of 2020 and will continue our aim to becoming greener. Green IT does not have to be an oxymoron.

Sameer Chauhan, Director, UNICC

After the Director’s Update, UNICC’s Head of Business Control Unit Yannis Arfaras shared updates on the financial state of the organization. His presentation was followed by the first report of the UNICC MC Audit Sub-Group represented by three Partner Organization representatives.

Chief of Cyber Security Section Tima Soni concluded the first day by presenting a new service: Cyber Security Resilience Maturity Assessment, which was well received and which rate was approved by MC representatives. Partners noted that this new service will enable the development of a UN-only benchmark for Cyber Security Resilience Maturity, especially valuable to smaller Clients and Partner Organizations.

Photos: UNICC

On the second day, MC representatives participated in a discussion around three topics. First, a ‘mezzanine view’ from the UNICC Director: a review of current technology trends, shared concerns and collective digital business opportunities for the UN system with his engagement with UNICC’s 70+ Clients and Partner Organizations.

Secondly, Chauhan presented the prospective ‘UN Community Cloud,’ a container-based cloud solution that will run UNICC’s flagship products. The UN Community Cloud is a logical and natural progression of the current hosting services offered by UNICC. It will offer a mission-critical, sensitive and scalable solution that may benefit the entire UN system in their scale-up and efforts to go digital securely and effectively.

The meeting ended with a discussion on how there is now clear guidance available from the UN Secretariat that ­UNICC is a full partner and not a vendor. These details were much appreciated by other Partner Organizations, who had explicitly asked for this to be discussed.

The Agenda had included a presentation by Chief of Data and Analytics Anusha Dandapani and a follow-up discussion on data and analytics. Due to lack of time, this item was tabled to be addressed either at an ad-hoc Management Committee meeting or at the 109th MC in Spring 2022.