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BRICS to use big data to achieve sustainable development goals

The Chinese Academy of Sciences will enhance dialogue and collaboration with peers from BRICS countries-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa-to use big data as a tool to achieve sustainable development, scientists said during the BRICS Forum on Big Data for Sustainable Development, which began on Tuesday.

Entrusted by CAS President Hou Jianguo, Zhang Yaping, vice-president of CAS, attended the opening ceremony and said that the goal of the event is to establish a platform for BRICS scientists, engineers and policymakers to share their knowledge and experience in implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

"All BRICS academies of sciences are committed to promoting the advancement of science and technology and social progress in our respective countries," he said.

"Beyond that, we should continuously join hands to conduct scientific and technological cooperation, and further contribute to the sustainable development of the world at large."

Given the number of global challenges from food security to pandemic control, Zhang said it is imperative for scientific communities to create a toolbox containing more scientific knowledge and technological solutions to address these issues.

Moreover, it is important to take advantage of information technology, such as big data, to promote scientific and technological innovation and progress, and help authorities make more sensible, accurate and effective decisions, he said.

To fulfill the promise made by President Xi Jinping during the 75th UN General Assembly in 2020, China established the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals and launched the world's first satellite dedicated to serving the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Over the past six months, the center has collected geoscience data covering oceans, atmosphere, biology, ecology and many other fields, providing a scientific and technological cooperation platform for research institutions and scientists around the world, Zhang said.

As for BRICS nations, Zhang said the scientific communities from the five countries have enjoyed close communication and fruitful cooperation in terms of high-level visits, academic seminars, joint research programs and personnel exchanges.

"I call on all of us to further strengthen ties and enhance exchanges with other countries and international organizations, and promote closer international cooperative relations through deeper scientific and technological cooperation," he said.

Guo Huadong, director-general of the center, said many indicators for sustainable development goals lack data support, which makes it difficult for experts and policymakers to accurately evaluate the situation and make scientific decisions.

During the forum, Guo said the center released four data products containing remote sensing and Earth sciences data that would help BRICS nations evaluate their human activities, urban development, forestry coverage and other scientific indicators related to sustainable development.

Jonathan Jansen, president of the Academy of Science of South Africa, said big data can be used to help countries predict and manage global challenges from climate change to inequality, but it is also important for non-government organizations to play a role in using new technologies like big data to tackle these problems.

Luiz Davidovich, president of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, said collaboration in science and technology can breach barriers and help humanity achieve sustainable development goals.

Alexander Sergeev, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said it is important to combine efforts to build resilience and face global challenges together through scientific research.

Narinder Kumar Mehra, vice-president of the Indian National Science Academy, said the BRICS scientific communities can play a vital role in promoting science, technology and innovation to improve health and education, reduce inequality and facilitate sustainable development as well as peace and prosperity.

zhangzhihao@chinadaily.com.cn