Gaborone, Botswana, drew more than 800 data experts and other participants from 66 countries for International Data Week (IDW), a joint biennial meeting of the Research Data Alliance (RDA), the International Science Council (ISC) Committee on Data (CODATA), and the ISC World Data System (WDS). CIESIN director Robert Chen, associate director for Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin, and senior digital archivist Robert Downs played active roles in the meeting, chairing numerous scientific sessions, presenting seven different talks and three poster papers on a range of data topics, and participating in various side meetings. IDW opened on November 5 with a speech by the President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, accompanied by remarks from Prof. Ismail Serageldin, founding director of the New Library of Alexandria, and from several senior ministers from Botswana and other African countries. The week included both scientific sessions organized by CODATA and WDS as part of SciDataCon 2018 and working meetings of various RDA interest and working groups, as part of the RDA′s 12th Plenary. A key theme of IDW was the digital frontiers of global science, with a particular focus on the scientific challenges facing Africa and new initiatives such as the African Open Science Platform.
In conjunction with IDW, Downs participated in the RDA Technical Advisory Board (TAB) and Chairs Meeting on November 4 and a meeting of the CoreTrustSeal Board on November 8. On November 9, de Sherbinin co-chaired the WDS Data Repositories Day at the University of Botswana, where Downs represented the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), a regular member of the WDS. With Martina Stockhause of the World Data Center-Climate (WDC-C), Chen gave an overview of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Data Distribution Centre (DDC), which CIESIN has co-managed with the WDC-C and the UK Centre for Environmental Data Analysis for more than 20 years. Chen also served as the U.S. delegate to the CODATA General Assembly (GA) November 9–10. The GA approved a new CODATA-WDS task group, Citizen Science for the SDGs—Aligning Citizen Science Outcomes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, to be co-chaired by de Sherbinin. The GA also approved a new Constitution and elected a new President, two Vice Presidents, and eight Ordinary members of the Executive Committee.