As the United Nations University Institute in Macau completes its 30th anniversary, we celebrate its people. Their passion, their expertise, their commitment to UN values, their humanity.

And we do so by publishing a small, yet inspiring collection of stories, in printing and online.

This is not a history book, but it does pay tribute to the Institute’s past, as we build on it to look ahead. As we celebrate the past, we could not be more grateful to Professor Dines Bjorne, the founding director of UNU-IIST, and Professor Tomasz Janowski, who for ten years led the e-governance programme in Macao, for taking the time to kindly share their memories with us.

Our homage, of course, extends to each and every other director, researcher, Fellow and staff that helped build this Institute, as well as all those who partnered with it over three decades, in the UN, academia, government, private sector and civil society.

As Prof. Bjornes tells us in his generous video message, “there are many ways of doing worthy things”. Theirs, he says, “brought smiley faces” and “long friendships”. We believe their legacy leaves on.

As we celebrate the future, we look at the Institute’s current focus on digital technologies and sustainable development, and its commitment to contribute to the UN Common Agenda through evidence-based, policy-driven research based in a human-centred, systems thinking and participatory approach. The mission, as described by director Jingbo Huang, is to conduct research and training that can “bring human/UN values into digital technology, and ensure all voices are included, especially those of the vulnerable populations”.

Maybe this booklet is a metaphor for all that. Firstly, we turn to an ancient way of building human relations: storytelling. Secondly, and as we celebrate science through the voices of our wonderful multidisciplinary team, we try to connect the dots and note the complex links and interactions between research topics – such as Urban Health, Migrant Tech, Cyber Resilience, Gender, Youth, Health or Artificial Intelligence –, research projects and fields of expertise. And we do all this while reflecting on the advantages of bringing all stakeholders to the table – not for the sake of attendance checking, but for the need of co-building a shared future.

Finally, as we celebrate Macao, we thank all the government entities and the local community, from academia to civil society to private sector, for supporting us all these years and those to come. We hope Macao will continue to be a city that brings together talented, passionate researchers and students from different cultures and academic backgrounds, all hoping to co-learn and co-use their skills in research and training to make the world a better place.

Welcome to The Human Connection.  The UNU Macau team