Presenting the Global Top 100 outstanding projects: MALENA

Published on May 22, 2023

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After a thorough scientific, ethical, and entrepreneurial review of all projects submitted to the 2022 IRCAI Global Top 100 call, IRCAI has deemed ten submissions as “outstanding” based on their AI integrity, potential impact on the SDGs, business sustainability, and ethical design. One of those ten submissions was MALENA. Earlier this month at our STI Forum side event, we had the opportunity to hear from MALENA’s Product Owner, Florian Skene.

What is MALENA?

MALENA is the International Finance Corporation’s ML-based Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) analyst. Based on Natural Language Processing (NLP), MALENA enables investors to quickly review IFC’s extensive in-house sustainability data on 24,000+ emerging market companies and help them build SDG-integrated investment portfolios.

The IFC’s analyst tool “is all about scale,” Florian explains: With the click of a button, investors can unlock curated information from companies’ annual reports, news articles, and impact assessments. He notes that these documents “can be lengthy, sometimes running up to thousands of pages”. MALENA aims to extract only the relevant insights about companies’ ESG performance from these documents and summarize them in a clear and informative company dashboard.

MALENA’s sustainability impact

Investors still face a significant gap in analyzing corporate sustainability data in emerging markets. The funding gap to achieve the SDGs is about $2-3 trillion annually. But “if the $200 trillion invested annually in capital markets were redirected,” Florian points out, “significant efforts could be made to make better-informed investment decisions and identify investment opportunities relevant to the SDGs.” For example, MALENA can help investors read and structure underutilized information and evaluate companies that have previously gone uncovered.

About MALENA’s AI model

MALENA can identify more than 1200 ESG risk terms, based on which it then performs sentiment analysis to assign positive, negative or neutral sentiment to the risk terms. Florian notes that the sentiment analysis was fine-tuned to the sustainability context and unique circumstances of the local markets of the companies in question. MALENA’s risk term taxonomy covers all 17 SDGs, including all 72 underlying targets and 102 indicators. To monitor the tool’s trustworthiness, MALENA has developed a Data and Model Governance Framework, which will adapt the fundamental properties of IBM for AI ethics, encompassing model explainability, performance, trust, robustness, fairness, transparency, and drift.

Looking at the road ahead: What’s next?

The first version of MALENA was released last summer. This version was made available to a limited number of asset managers, development finance institutions, export credit agencies, and private equity funds. This summer, however, the team has been working to release a “global public good version”. The release of this version is scheduled for release in July 2023.

For more information about MALENA, have a look at their website (link) and publications (link, link).


Georgia DIP and AI Research Project

Georgia DIP and AI Research Project

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published the digital innovation profile for Georgia, a document analysing digital innovation ecosystem in Georgia, focusing on the opportunities and challenges in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The document had been prepared with the collaboration of IRCAI experts.

Highlights from the 16th ASEF Classroom Network Conference

Educators and professionals from across Europe and Asia gathered in the picturesque city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, from November 12-15, 2023, for the 16th ASEF Classroom Network Conference. Hosted by the International Research Centre on AI under the Auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and supported by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, this annual event was a success: it brought teachers together, facilitated the creation of new partnerships, answered some questions about AI in education and uncovered many new and important ones.

In Person Meeting of the African Members of the NAIXUS Network of AI Researchers on AI and Development

In Person Meeting of the African Members of the NAIXUS Network of AI Researchers on AI and Development

The NAIXUS project (Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs) convened a significant meeting during the Deep Learning Indaba 2023. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the progress of the project, share insights, and plan future actions to strengthen the network’s impact on advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through artificial intelligence (AI) research.

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” 

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” 

The International Research Institute on AI under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and its core members in the Network of Excellence NAIXUS; a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at bridging the gap between AI and sustainable development hosted a meeting amd a workshop in Accra, Ghana. Both events were held as part of the Deep Learning Indaba 2023 Forum on September 8 and 9 and were co-hosted by the NAIXUS members from Africa.


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

Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana


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