The United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) is a research institute at the intersections of information and communication technology (ICT) and international development. UNU-CS conducts UN policy-relevant research and generates solutions, addressing key issues expressed in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through high-impact innovations and frontier technologies. Through its research, UNU-CS encourages data-driven and evidence-based actions and policies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNU-CS is nurturing three ICTD research Labs which serve as our pillar conceptual research themes. Research Labs help to organize our people and work and our research projects affiliate with one or more Labs. UNU-CS Labs guide and connect our work though some experimental activities may sit outside their edges. Each Lab has a Contact Person who enables connections across projects and scholars and amplifies our communication and outreach. Our inaugural research Labs are:
Digital Peace Lab: ICTs for peacebuilding and to support human security, respond to crises, and mitigate human displacement.
Gender Tech Lab: ICTs that promote women’s empowerment and enable sustainable community led development.
Small Data Lab: ICTs that create actionable knowledge from local data, empower citizens with data they trust, and improve global datasets with local data.


The contemporary and increasingly popular notion of data for development is largely framed around the use of Big Data in developmental contexts, as well as for supporting social indicators monitoring. Big Data usually refers to big datasets where the sheer volume and velocity of the data challenges available platforms and algorithms for storage and analysis. Often this data is aggregated, analyzed and packaged to inform macro level (e.g. national or sub-national) decision making and action – what ...
Gender based discrimination is pervasive around the globe, although it is expressed in different ways in different cultures. Equally diverse is the capacity to resist, overcome or transform disempowering norms, beliefs and social structures. And while information and communication technologies and the networked world offer increasingly innovative ways for connection, mobilization and resistance, the same tools are often implicated in the perpetuation of old and new forms of discrimination and ...
One-quarter of humanity lives in fragile, violent, and conflict-stressed environments. These people’s lives are often characterized by the starkest of realities: undernourishment, illiteracy, short life spans, displacement, forced migration, and lack of access to basic amenities and services. Destroyed and diminished infrastructure, corrupt institutions, and endemic mistrust and suspicion characterize conflict-affected areas. In response to these challenges, the UNU-CS Digital Peace Lab is exploring, ...

UNU-CS Mission:

  • To conduct research by investigating and inventing human-centred information and communication technologies (ICT) to address some of the priorities central to the United Nations.
  • To influence and impact policymakers within the UN system and beyond, by encouraging evidence-based policy and action to create effective solutions to development challenges.
  • To nurture the next generation of interdisciplinary computing, information and social scientists, and engineers to be thought leaders in the field of ICT for development.
  • To embrace the enormous dynamism of the city of Macau and Pearl River Delta region while still working globally.

What are your main areas of research?

UNU-CS is a research start-up with a dynamic and entrepreneurial attitude. All areas of information and communication technologies and international development are open for consideration. Potential research ideas are evaluated based on an assessment of: importance (is this a high-impact area with global import and UN relevance), fit (can UNU-CS realistically make a difference in this area), people (do we have or can we hire world-class passionate research staff in this area).

During our start-up phase we are launching three research labs each with their own (cross-cutting) focus.

Who is on your international Advisory Board?

Dr. Edward Cutrell (USA), Chair
Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research

Prof. Carleen Maitland (USA)
Associate Professor of Information Sciences and Technology; Co-director, Institute for Information Policy; Penn State

Dr. Nimmi Rangaswamy (India)
Associate Professor, International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad Telangana, India

Prof. Yonghua Song (Macau, S.A.R, China)
Rector, University of Macau

Mr. Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi (Malaysia)
Advisor, ASEAN Advisory Pte. Ltd.; Board of Directors, Lotus Cars UK

Prof. Tim Unwin (UK)
Professor of Geography Emeritus, Royal Holloway, University of London

Just where (and why) is it in Macau?

UNU-CS is situated in Macau Special Administrative Region (S.A.R), China and it is the only UN entity in the city. Our office is located in Casa Silva Mendes, a heritage building built in 1905, which was once belonged to Manuel de Silva Mendes, a renowned writer and art collector.

While Macau is well-known for its gaming industry, it is one of the most dynamic regions in Asia, where technological innovations have become an integral part in driving social and economic development. A large ecosystem of private sector companies and technological start-ups are just a short distance away. Macao’s close proximity to China, Hong Kong S.A.R and other Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries, provides an exciting opportunity for researchers and experts to maximize impact of their work in the world’s fastest-growing region.

UNU began its presence in Macau in 1991 with the establishment of the International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST) supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, Portugal and the Macau S.A.R. Growing out of this foundation in 2015, UNU-CS strives to be the thought-leader in the field of ICT for development and contributes to the local, regional, and global communities.

How do I find out more?

Check out our contact page!

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