“We are pleased to announce the upcoming establishment of a new institute of the United Nations university (UNU) in Bologna, Italy”.
With these words, contained in the joint declaration of all the institutions involved and presented today in the capital of Bologna, theUNU Institute on big data and artificial intelligence for managing human habitat change, the new Institute of the UN University on big data and artificial intelligence for human habitat change management’.
It will arise at technopole of Bologna and will strengthen the vocation and role of Emilia-Romagna as a world center of excellence for research, science, artificial intelligence and big data. The start of activities is expected by mid-2024, and the institute will be attractive for students and teachers from all over the world.
The statement by United Nations UniversityMinistry of Foreign affairs and international cooperation, ministry of university and research, Emilia Romagna region e University of Bologna took place at the headquarters of the Bologna Business School of Villa Guastavillani, on the occasion of the two-day workshop which will end tomorrow Towards a new UNU institute on big data and artificial intelligence for managing human habitat change”, with the participation of experts from all over the world gathered precisely to discuss the objectives and priorities of the new institute, the researches to be activated and the opportunities for talents.
To present the document and to illustrate the project in the press conference were Tshilidzi Marwalachancellor of the United Nations University, Anna Maria BerniniMinister of University and Research, Stefano Bonaccinipresident of the Emilia-Romagna Region e John Molari, rector of the University of Bologna. Also present were the regional councilors for Schools, universities, research, digital agendas, Paola Salomoniand to economic development and green economy, work, training and international relations Vincenzo Collabeyond Matthew Leporemayor of Bologna.
A video message was sent by Mary TripodiUndersecretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The institution, as stated in the same statement, “will exploit the use of digital technologies at the forefront to help solve pressing global challenges and promote greater international collaboration. And it is no coincidence that it will arise in Emilia-Romagna: it was in fact the Region that, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, put forward this proposal in December 2020, accepted and ratified in the 78th session of the United Nations University Council, at the end of 2022, then officially communicated in a letter to President Bonaccini by the then UNU rector David M. Malone. A green light that concluded with a positive opinion the technical investigation launched on the project of the Region, defined together with the University of Bologna and presented by the Farnesina on behalf of Emilia-Romagna: the proposal, detailed and praised by the Unu Council, took into account examination of all the elements necessary for the realization of the ambitious project, from the vision to the objectives, from the expected results to the organization strategy and implementation, from the types of activities to the budget, up to the evaluation and reporting.
The choice of Bologna as the institute’s host city it is “voluntary and strategic: the region’s thriving innovation ecosystem, access to distinguished researchers, supercomputing facilities and cloud infrastructure provide an ideal environment for the Institute to operate; dynamic synergies with local institutions, industry partners and the community will amplify the Institute’s impact and influence”. To underline it, the same document.
Economic investment and partnership
To transform the idea into reality, in addition to the fruitful technical and institutional collaboration on the part of all the subjects involved, also the economic investment of the State and the Emilia-Romagna Region: the Italian government is committed to allocate, subject to parliamentary ratification of the agreement for the host institution, $40 million for the endowment fund UNU, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Institute and facilitate future initiatives, as well as an annual contribution shared with the Region of 2.5 million euros during the first decade of the institution’s activity.
The Region has already allocated the necessary resources to guarantee the start-up of the structure and its management for the next few years: 5 million euros for the three-year period 2023 – 2025, together with 6 million in addition to the 40 million allocated by the ministry to implement the complex of the F2 building, future home – already under construction – of the new institute of the UN University at theformer tobacco factory where the technopole arose.
Naturally confirmed the commitment by theUniversity of BolognaOf cinecaof the regional universities and of the Region, to guarantee an authoritative and functional site right in the heart of the technopole, where the data center of the European Weather Center for medium-term forecasts and the European supercomputer Leonardo: infrastructure managed by cineca which offers unprecedented computing power in our country – 80% of the Italian one and over 20% of the European one – and which is at the service of the territory, of Italy and of the European Union.
Not only that, because the University of Bologna will host the Decade collaborative center-DCC coastal resilience the United Nations Center for Coastal Resilience to Climate Change, funded by the Region with 2 million euros.
Together with the United Nations Center for Coastal Resilience to Climate Change, which will be housed in the Manifattura technopole starting from 2024, the Bologna infrastructure is therefore a candidate to become a global study and research engine on climate change, in perfect harmony with the provisions of the Pact for work and the climate.
The role of the Institute
The new UNU Institute, which will have the University of Bologna as its institutional partner and will operate in the academic context which includes all the universities based in Emilia-Romagna – the University of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio Emilia, Parma, the Cattolica of Piacenza and the Polytechnic of Milan – will also be able to count on the support of the Center for Sustainable Heritage Conservation (SHeC) of the University for Foreigners of Perugia and of the Network of UNESCO Chairs in the Mediterranean.
It will use supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence to study changes in the human habitat induced by climate change, with specific attention to complex problems of the Global South and to the social, economic and cultural transformations that are taking place as a consequence of a series of factors such as urbanisation, international and internal migrations, social and economic challenges and opportunities generated by technological innovation. Complex dynamics, which correspond to many of the objectives of‘Agenda Him 2030 for sustainable development and which assume a particular interest if they refer to the Mediterranean area, which constitutes a unique environmental system on a global level, due to its geographical characteristics, its natural environment, its societies and its cultures.
Central to the new UN University will be the development of innovative, intersectoral and transdisciplinary research and higher education activities from a dual perspective. The first concerns the need to anticipate the consequences of climate change on human societies and communities in all its physical, socio-economic, cultural and health aspects. The second calls into question the role that new technologies, in particular high performance computing (HPC) can play in understanding and evaluating complex global problems, thanks to powerful simulations and analysis of large amounts of data. The combination of the two perspectives will allow scientists to carry out research and high-quality data-driven education in the field of sustainability and climate changeto provide independent scientific advice and policy support for global sustainable development and addressing the challenges of the green and digital transitions.
Today’s statement also highlights the strategic role that the institute will play as it cooperates with other UNU institutes and other United Nations entities to provide data-driven insights and catalyze innovation that can contribute to the achievement of development goals sustainable development of the United Nations. At the heart of the work will be active collaboration and engagement with institutions and researchers in the global South, “to ensure that the work of the UNU truly responds to the diverse needs and aspirations of nations and peoples around the world“. in line with the spirit of the other UN-supported research centers hosted in Italy: International centre for theoretical physics (Ictp), UNESCO’s The world academy of sciences (Twas), Inter-academy partnership (Iap), and World water assessment programme.