IGF 2021 Town Hall #45 Exchanging research data responsible to save ‎the planet ‎

Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 (12:45 UTC) - Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 (13:45 UTC)
Ballroom C

Assessing Internet governance approaches and mechanisms and fostering ‎inclusiveness: What are the main strengths and weaknesses of existing Internet governance ‎approaches and mechanisms? What can be done, and by whom, to foster more inclusive ‎Internet governance at the national, regional and international levels?‎
Advancing global digital cooperation: What opportunities are provided by the current focus on ‎digital cooperation resulting from the UN Secretary-General's Roadmap for digital ‎cooperation? What role should the IGF play (and how) in advancing global digital ‎cooperation?‎

Round Table - 60 Min‎

Round Table - Circle - 60 Min



Global research and education networks support the advancement in global scientific ‎knowledge related to climate change.  The observation data, analysis and education materials ‎which are an essential foundation for addressing matters under the UNFCCC are transported ‎to and from researchers using the national and regional research and education networks ‎‎(NRENs/RRENs).  For some NRENs, compute and storage services are also provided to ‎researchers in support of climate change research. The global research and education ‎networks facilitate the cooperation between researchers across borders and continents. Our ‎work contributes towards UNFCCC Articles 4.1(g and h) and Article 5.‎

To meet the UN sustainable development goals, tackle climate change and to prepare for and ‎respond to disasters (man-made or otherwise) requires data. This data is increasingly being ‎centralised into large data sets from a variety of different sources and at varying volumes. As ‎the pace of technology advances, the number of data sources and the volumes of data ‎acquired continues to grow exponentially. While challenges exist in acquiring, transporting, ‎storing, processing, analysing and then finally re-transmitting a subset of that data for the ‎benefit of citizens and national governments, there also exists a growing divergence in the ‎capabilities of a number of nations and citizens from global south countries to partake in this ‎field at scale (in comparison to countries from the global north).‎
The GEO communities (Group on Earth Observations) focus on the transmission and ‎exchange of data which is utilised in the realm of geospatial research. Geospatial research is ‎the investigation into the various aspects of earth science, but with a focus on particular ‎locations, and this relies upon a number of communication layers and distribution systems. ‎These layers and systems, controlled by a number of different actors, when inter-mixed form a ‎transparent underlying service, otherwise known as the internet. In some respects, these ‎layers are operated by a number Private (commercial), Non-Profit, Governmental and ‎Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs) to form a communications commons which the GEO ‎community relies upon for its systems and services to work.‎
GÉANT, the convener and coordinator of this session, is a fundamental element of Europe’s ‎e-infrastructure, delivering the pan-European GÉANT network for scientific excellence, ‎research, education and innovation. GÉANT is also a participating member of GEO, ‎representing the interests of all of its National Research and Education Network (NREN) ‎members, promoting their work and trying to find opportunities to collaborate with other GEO ‎members to help support science and researchers needs. Through its integrated catalogue of ‎connectivity, collaboration and identity services, GÉANT provides users with highly reliable, ‎unconstrained access to computing, analysis, storage, applications and other resources, to ‎ensure that Europe remains at the forefront of research. ‎


This one-hour roundtable will focus on how GEO communities, supported by GÉANT and ‎NRENs, are responsible for the type of exchange of research data that plays a part in saving ‎the planet. In an effort to help identify how this collaboration can be enhanced, three high-‎level questions will be posed to both the high-level speakers (see below) and then opened to ‎the audience. The following questions will be asked during the roundtable discussion. ‎

  • Main challenges regarding GEO community collaboration across continents
  • What role can NRENs / RRENs play here
  • How do this directly / indirectly contribute to the realisation of the SDGs

These questions will be discussed during a one-hour workshop that looks to function as an ‎open-floor discussion, with a limited number of key participants offering their initial reflections ‎on the subject and opening the questions to the floor. This is in order to find a broad ‎agreement that research and education networks can act as interlocutors for different GEO ‎communities to achieve primary and secondary SDGs, with a statement endorsing as such. ‎

Agenda: ‎

‎13:45 – 13:50 (5 min): Introductions and opening 
‎13:50 – 14:05 (15 min): Key Participants introductions on GEO 
‎14:05 – 14:40 (35 min): Roundtable discussion on three key questions. 
‎14:40 – 14:45 (5 min): Key takeaways and close.‎

Session outcome:‎

  • Promote and disseminate the role of research and education networks concerning the ‎SDGs, using GEO communities as an example. ‎
  • Find and record a broad agreement that research and education networks can act as ‎interlocutors for different GEO communities to achieve primary and secondary SDGs. ‎

Of most importance in the Town Hall is the interaction with the audience, and we wish for this ‎to be interactive from the start. The experience of the organisers is that interaction and ‎diversity create the best outcomes within such a session. ‎
The interaction will be facilitated in an on-site setting in close collaboration with the online ‎moderator. The aim is to integrate the session online and on-site.‎

Further Reading:‎ 
See here to read how GÉANT contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals.‎



  • Auke Pals, Project Manager (Internet Governance stakeholder manager), GÉANT, Technical community, WEOG
  • Hendrik Ike, Public Affairs Officer, GÉANT, Technical community, WEOG
  • Chris Atherton, Senior Research Engagement Officer, GÉANT, Technical community, WEOG
  • Mark Urban, Chief Financial Officer, RedCLARA, Uruguay (GRULAC)
  • Yousef Torman, Managing Director, ASREN, Jordan (Asia and the Pacific group)
  • Charlene Gaba, Assistant Researcher, University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin (African Group)
Onsite Moderator

Chris Atherton

Online Moderator

Auke Pals


Hendrik Ike


13. Climate Action
14. Life Below Water
15. Life on Land

Targets: Regional and national research and education networks have digital platforms (connectivity, data centers, computer centers, and others) to enable joint, efficient, and effective action to pursue the SDGs under the auspices of the GEO communities. These communities are looking to establish a high-level agreement between the national and regional research and education networks of Latin America, Europe, and Africa for joint action to support the UN sustainable development goals, with particular emphasis on action goals climate (13), quality education (4), underwater life (14), life in terrestrial ecosystems (15) and clean water and sanitation. Informing to such an agreement would also contribute in-keeping to SDG 17 - partnerships for the goals.