Tuesday 15 March 2016: WITFOR 2016, the World Information Technology Forum focused on progressing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has announced four keynote speakers to headline the event being held in Costa Rica this September.

Organised by the global ICT professional association, IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing), WITFOR 2016 brings together senior policy-makers, ICT experts, representatives of NGOs and GOs, researchers and private sector organizations to explore ways to use technology to assist developing nations.

WITFOR 2016 is being staged in conjunction with the five public universities in Costa Rica and will run from 12-14 September, 2016. Local Organising Chair, Gabriela Marin, said WITFOR 2016 has been successful in attracting a world-class roster of keynote speakers to share their expertise with the conference.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have secured international speakers like Chrisanthi Avgerou of the London School of Economics & Political Science and Yaseen Khan of the Open Medicine Project. The involvement of prominent humanitarians and experts like these will ensure some lively and productive discussions at WITFOR 2016,” she said.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Professor Chrisanthi Avgerou conducts research projects around the relationship of ICT to organisational change and the role of ICT in socio-economic development. In addition to her roe at the London School of Economics and Political Science, she is a Fellow of the Association for Information Systems (AIS) and chaired IFIP’s Technical Committee 9 on the Social Implications of Information Technology from 2005 to 2010. She also led the IFIP WG 9.4 group on computers in developing countries from 1996 to 2003 and has written books on Information Systems and Global Diversity, and The Social Study of Information and Communication Technology.

Alicia Bárcena is Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), having previously served as Under-Secretary-General for Management at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, as well as Chef de Cabinet and Deputy Chef de Cabinet to the former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. Earlier, Ms Bárcena worked as Co-ordinator of the Latin American and Caribbean Sustainable Development Programme of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), responsible for the Environmental Citizenship Project at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).She has published numerous articles on sustainable development, public policy, environmental issues and public participation.

Yaseen Khan is a medical doctor and social entrepreneur with a passion for improving healthcare through technology. Since co-founding the Open Medicine Project, he has been focused on leveraging mobile technology to solve information access problems faced by healthcare professionals and patients in low-resource settings. By creating free clinical support mobile apps for HIV care, Emergency Medicine and Primary Health Care among others, hisProject serves over 100,000 healthcare professionals across Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and facilitates on-the-ground reporting of health system problems. Yaseen has been awarded a number of global technology and social impact accolades, including a distinctive global fellowship for social entrepreneurship with Echoing Green.

Erick Mata is currently Associate Professor at the School of Computer Science of the Costa Rica Institute of Technology (ITCR), but has been recognised around the world for his Biodiversity Informatics (BI) initiatives. Erick worked as Executive Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) from 2011-2013, leading a team of scientists and computer scientists to increase awareness and understanding of living nature by gathering, generating and sharing knowledge in an open, trusted and freely accessible digital resource. Earlier, he founded and ran the BI Program at INBio, the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica, which has been recognized world-wide as a pioneer effort in the use ICT’s to gather, manage, synthesize and disseminate digital information about biodiversity at the species and ecosystem level. Erick’s current research areas include: biodiversity informatics, scientific data visualization, computer vision for organismal identification, and algorithmic graph theory.

Ms Marin said the WITFOR 2016 Program Committee is currently finalising the program of speakers, which will be announced in May. “With such an eminent group of keynotes, we are confident of being able to attract other leading experts from around the world to share their knowledge and experience at WITFOR 2016 and to collaborate on strategies to progress the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” said Ms Marin.

The SDGs aim to improve global conditions by reducing poverty and hunger, achieving universal education, promoting gender equality, ensuring environmental sustainability, combating diseases and reducing mortality.

WITFOR has been organized by IFIP every few years since 2003 in cooperation with keystakeholders in the host country. To date, WITFOR has been held in Lithuania in 2003, in Botswana in 2005, in Ethiopia in 2007,in Vietnam in 2009 and in India in 2012.

For more information about WITFOR 2016, visit http://www.witfor2016.org

Website: http://ifip.org
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifipnews
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ifip—international-federation-for-information-processing

Caroline New: caroline@quantumvalues.com
Shuba Paheerathan: shuba@quantumvalues.com