IRCAI launched a Global Network of AI Excellence Centres in Sustainable Development – NAIXUS

Published on May 6, 2022

Share this post

The International Research Institute on AI under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) officially launched its Network of Excellence NAIXUS; a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at bridging the gap between AI and sustainable development. The event was held online as part of the STI 2022 Forum on May 4 and was hosted by IRCAI and the Permanent Mission of Slovenia to the UN in New York and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN and the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the UN.

Speakers at the event included John Shawe-Taylor, IRCAI Director; Davor Orlic, IRCAI Chief Operations Officer; Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice Chancellor and Principal, University of Johannesburg; Marielza Oliveira, Director of Partnerships and Operational Programme Monitoring, Communications and Information Sector, UNESCO, Alexandre F. Barbosa, Director Cetic, Samuel Kaski, Aalto University, ELISE Network Coordinator, Nuria Oliver, ELLIS Unit Alicante Foundation, Ambassador Boštjan Malovrh, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the UN in New York, Maria Fasli, UNESCO Chair in Analytics and Data Science, Executive Dean, Faculty of Science and Health at University of Essex, Ambassador Tetsuya Kimura, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, Ulrich Paquet, Deep Learning Indaba, DeepMind, Nelson González, Head Global Impact Computing, AWS, Matthew Smith, Senior Program Specialist, IDRC, Kathleen Siminyu, Machine Learning Fellow, Mozilla Foundation, and Emmanuel Letouzé, Director Data-Pop Alliance.

The main part of the agenda consisted of short presentations outlining the history, purpose, goals, composition, activities, programmes, and technology focus of the network with supporters and initial partners of the IRCAI initiative to build this global network of centres of excellence for sustainable development.

The recording of the event is available here:  

The launch of this multistakeholder initiative was broadcast to the 2022 STI Forum audience, streamed live on social media, and followed directly on Zoom by 120 attendees.

Marielza Oliveira, Director for Partnerships and Operational Programme Monitoring, Communications and Information Sector at UNESCO, believes that “the network launched today is going to be a really important factor in strengthening international cooperation around artificial intelligence and digital technologies.” Other speakers supported this shared vision of IRCAI and Data-Pop Alliance by emphasising the importance of collaboration. “We hope to contribute to SD by sharing our know-how on implementing a Society 5.0. With implementation standards differing across countries, NAIXUS will bring together all relevant stakeholders and discuss these differences,” said Ambassador Tetsuya Kimura, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN.

Ambassador Boštjan Malovrh, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the UN in New York, stated already in his opening remarks that “no country and entity can achieve this alone. The power of collaboration cannot be overemphasized.”

This was confirmed throughout the event by the esteemed speakers and evidenced by the examples of projects working in the field of artificial intelligence that also have a positive impact on sustainable development through collaboration.

The goal of the network and its initial partners, of which there are already more than 30, is to mobilise researchers to work together on important AI methods and sustainable development issues, to achieve critical mass on these topics, and to collaborate across cultural and language barriers. In short, the focus is on science, which is urgently needed to achieve the SDGs.

A list of the initial partners and the detailed goals of the network are described here:



International Research Centre in Artificial Intelligence
under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI)

Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana


The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this website do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Design by Ana Fabjan