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16 Nov 2019
UNTIL Malaysia Advisory Panel Meets
UNTIL Malaysia Advisory Panel Meets

On Wednesday, 13th of February 2019, the United Nations in Putrajaya, together with Mr. Salem Avan, Director of Global Services Division, OICT, hosted the inaugural United Nations Technology Innovation Lab (UNTIL) Malaysia’s first Advisory Panel. UNTIL Malaysia is the first such lab in Asia and is tasked to look at digital innovation initiatives that will accelerate the adoption and achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Advisory Panel is Co-Chaired by Mr. Stefan Priesner, UN Resident Coordinator for Malaysia, and will act as a form of governance for the activities of UNTIL Malaysia which includes thematic areas around Ethical Fashion, Sustainable Tourism, Smart Cities, and Financial Inclusion. 

At the meeting, Mr. Salem Avan provided an overview of the global initiative and provided key insights into developments in the two other existing labs (Finland and Egypt) as well as future plans for expansion. The panel members also discussed existing UNTIL Malaysia projects on Ethical Fashion and Sustainable Tourism. UNTIL Malaysia is developing a blockchain platform which will help create a listing of Ethical Fashion players and eventually connect different types of players including retailers, suppliers, manufacturers, etc. 

The Sustainable Tourism project is intended to influence relevant businesses and their respective local communities to proactively act as custodians of their local natural ecosystem. This will be done through four primary activities: 1) development of an online platform which will act as a marketing tool, 2) creation of a nationally recognized Sustainable Tourism guidelines and scoring methodology, 3) alignment with financial institutions to afford low interest financing for businesses who want to help address SDGs, and 4) alignment with relevant government incentives including tax exemptions and grants. 

On top of existing projects, the panel members also discussed projects that are currently in the research pipeline including Circular Smart Communities and Predictable Public Transportation under the Smart Cities thematic area. Believing that a city is not smart until it is circular, the project plans to look at digitally innovating various activities related to food surplus, food waste, solid waste, and wastewater. An opportunity in this regard may be in the identification of new digital business models which will sustainably help address existing challenges. 

Meeting Notes

Photo caption:

From left to right: Freddy Lee, CTO, IBM Malaysia, Norhizam Abdul Kadir, Vice President, MDEC Shasha Kartini Ridzam, Head of Global Affairs, AirAsia Group, Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Managing Director, Yayasan Hasanah, Subrato Basu, Vice President, Research Board,

Prem Nair, Head of Asian Operations, UNTIL, Salem Avan, Director of Global Services Division, UN OICT, Stefan Priesner, Resident Coordinator for Malaysia, United Nations, Dato’ Sri Idris Jala, President & CEO, PEMANDU Associates, Dianne Dain, Head of Global Partnerships, UNTIL, and Evan Cheah, Executive Vice President, Sunway Group

Secretary General

"The advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, including those brought on by a combination of computing power, robotics, big data and artificial intelligence, are generating revolutions in health care, transport and manufacturing.  
I am convinced that these new capacities can help us to lift millions of people out of poverty, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and enable developing countries to leap‑frog into a better future."

23 March 2018, New York