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The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development entered its "Decade of Action" in 2020. However, its implementation still faces several constraints such as lack of data, insufficient research on indicator systems, and uneven progress in its implementation. Among these, the need for data and methods is the most important and urgent.

Scientific and technological innovations play an important role in providing solutions to several of these challenges. Therefore, the United Nations initiated the "Technology Facilitation Mechanism" (TFM) to promote and improve technological and scientific support for policy interventions and decision support systems towards achieving sustainable development goals. China in recent years has increased its reliance on science, technology, and innovation to promote economic and social development and is implementing new strategies which are consistent and complementary to its commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. One of the key avenues within China’s strategy is to improve its capacity to analyze and utilize data for scientific and technological progress through a strong focus on research on big data and its integration with data from different natural and social science domains. This encompasses land, ocean, atmosphere, urban settlements, and human activity and holds immense potential for new solutions towards sustainable development goals. UN Secretary-General has also emphasized better use of data, and harnessing science, technology, and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation.

During his address at the 75th UN General Assembly on 22 September 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will set up an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals to support the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Centre aims to be a public science and technology platform for big data for sustainable development, a center for scientific research on sustainable development, a hub for innovations in data information services and technologies, a high-end think tank on sustainable development, and a center for developing talent and improving human capacity through education and training. Through these roles, the Center will serve UN agencies and UN Member States in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

The Center will be officially inaugurated on 6 September 2021, and to mark this important occasion, the International Forum on Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (FBAS) will be held in Beijing, China, from 6 to 8 September 2021. The theme of the forum is "Big data towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals", with a special focus on building a digital silk road and global partnership for Sustainable Development Goals, innovation and demonstration of big data applications for sustainable development, cutting-edge technologies and information platforms for assessing Sustainable Development Goals, Digital Earth and sustainable development, and Big Earth Data to support Sustainable Development Goals.

I would like to warmly welcome experts, scholars, engineers, managers and other stakeholders from all over the world to join us at this forum. We look forward to sharing the latest achievements, scientific exchanges, and exploring future cooperation with all participants.

We look forward to meeting you physically in Beijing or virtually at the 1st FBAS during the golden autumn to discuss the bright future of big data for global sustainable development goals.

GUO Huadong    Alessandro Annoni
International Forum on Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals
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