Geneva Science-Policy Interface
Address: Uni Mail, Bd du Pont-d’Arve 28, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland
Stakeholder group: Initiatives and processes
The GSPI is a neutral and independent platform that aims to foster engagement between the research community and Geneva-based international policy actors around some of the most pressing global challenges (including global health, climate change, and migration).
It works to foster science-policy ecosystems by brokering collaborations and enhancing capacities across the interface between the science, policy, and implementation communities. This includes an annual call for projects, the Impact Collaboration Programme (ICP), the production of policy briefs, as well as learning opportunities and resources to advance the professionalisation and recognition of the science-policy field of practice in Geneva and beyond.
The GSPI is based at the University of Geneva. It receives support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the backing of leading research institutions in Switzerland and Europe.
As part of its activities at the interplay between science, policy, and implementation actors, the GSPI tackles a range of digital issues. With data being a centrepiece of evidence-based policies, many of the GSPI’s activities touch on digitalisation and the use of digital tools in domains such as health, migration, development, and the environment.
Digital policy issues
The project MapMaker, a collaboration between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich) has enabled the development of an online visualisation tool to inform data-driven decision-making on marine biodiversity conservation at the international level.
Together with the Geneva Health Forum (GHF), the GSPI has established a working group including key humanitarian actors to harness knowledge and best practices around the digitisation of clinical guidelines for management of childhood illness in primary care in low and middle-income countries. In line with the efforts of the WHO, and the principles of donor alignment for digital health, the working group has developed recommendations on how digitalisation can improve the management of childhood illness. In September 2021, the results of this work were shared with experts and the public, providing a platform for discussions on the lessons learned and future trends in the field.
In 2018, the GSPI organised policy discussions on the use of drones as part of humanitarian action. The conversation centred on the practical use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid and what can be done by stakeholders such as policymakers, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to maximise the opportunities and reduce the risks of such technologies.
At the 2019 Digital Day, together with the University of Geneva, the GSPI organised a discussion exploring what experience and know-how Geneva-based organisations could share to empower and protect users in the context of the digital revolution.
With a number of other partners, the GSPI co-organised a discussion at the 2019 WSIS Forum on aerial data produced by drones and satellites in the context of aid and development. The session explored the interplay between international organisations, NGOs, and scientists and how they can work together to help monitor refugee settlements, provide emergency response in case of natural disasters, and scale agriculture programmes.
The project REDEHOPE of the University of Geneva and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has led to the development of an online diagnostic tool to help countries identify and visualise issues in their housing data ecology, and access appropriate datasets to formulate more robust, evidence-based housing policies at the country level.
In 2020–2021, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention (BRS) secretariat benefitted from the support of ETH Zurich to develop an online platform to identify and signal the need for evidence and information to the scientific community in the field of chemical and waste management.
A project from ICP 2021 addressed the hurdles facing policy actors in accessing and making sense of data in migration research. The project partners (the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Graduate Institute) developed an interactive digital toolkit for policy officials to support them in leveraging migration research for evidence-based policymaking. The toolkit, based on IOM’s flagship publication, the World Migration Report, was launched in June 2022.
ICP 2021 brought support to the development of interactive analytical tools providing information about all UN sanctions to inform both humanitarian practitioners and sanction policy actors on practical ways to safeguard principled humanitarian action in areas under a sanction regime. This project is a collaboration between the Graduate Institute and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
ICP 2022 selected a collaboration between ETH Zurich and IOM that seeks to bring more effective policy expertise in the management of migration to address migrants’ needs and increase social cohesion between migrant and local communities. The collaboration will develop a toolbox to be used by IOM and its partners to facilitate the use of the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) Integration Index, a survey tool for governments, nonprofits, and researchers to measure the integration of immigrants around the world.
Human rights principles
Also in the framework of its ICP, the GSPI has supported a collaboration between the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and OHCHR’s B-Tech project. Some of the new fast-evolving technologies, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition technologies, and the internet of things (IoT), can have profoundly disrupting effects on sociopolitical systems and pose significant human rights challenges. This initiative provides authoritative guidance and resources for implementing the UNGPs in the technology space and placing international human rights law (IHRL) at the centre of regulatory and policy frameworks. Aimed at policymakers, the technology sector, and all those working on the regulation of AI, the policy research carried out in this project (see resulting Working Paper, 2021) brings fresh insights into how current initiatives on the regulation of AI technologies could incorporate the protection and respect for human rights. Published by the Geneva Academy, the paper also calls on states to adopt a ‘smart mix’ of mandatory and voluntary measures to support their implementation and how this applies to the AI sector. This GSPI-supported science-policy process will formally feed the development of a ‘UN Guiding Principles check’ tool (working title), which will provide states with a roadmap to assess their regulatory efforts across different policy domains relevant to technology.
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