Chair in ICT for Development

Royal Holloway, University of London – Professor Tim Unwin

Home       >       Expert Network       >       Chairs

The team at Royal Holloway undertake the highest possible quality of research and training on the use of digital technologies for “development” (ICT4D).

Their current work is especially with refugees, people with disabilities and women in patriarchal societies, arguably some of the most marginalised people in society. By helping them to use technologies, the Chair is hoping to improve their life experiences and empower people for change.


? Technology
? Education
? Literacy


UNESCO Chair of ICT in Education for Sustainable Development




“A particular highlight [has been] leading on behalf of UNESCO and UNICEF the UN Chief Executive Board’s High-Level Committee on Programme’s work on developing a UN system-wide strategy for the future of education and learning in 2018-19.”

Professor Tim Unwin

UNESCO Chairs are based within Institutes for Higher Education and specialise in specific research fields. They provide policy advice to the UK National Commission for UNESCO and HM government, as well as reviewing UNESCO applications.


The ICT4D Collective was set up by the current Chairholder, Tim Unwin, in 2004. They’re a group of people committed to undertaking the highest possible quality of research in the field of ICT4D and making the results of this available freely to the global community. They aim to do this primarily in the interests of poor people and marginalised communities, wherever they may be found.

The chair is avowedly interdisciplinary, including people working in computer science, geography, information security, and management. Over time it has attracted affiliated members from across the world. In the early years they concentrated especially on postgraduate training, but now the Chair work focuses much more on large policy-oriented research. In 2007, they created a global community of academics and practitioners in ICT4D on Facebook, and 13 years later this now has more than 5400 members.

Since then, the Chair’s research and practice have evolved to meet the changing needs of people across the world interested in how digital technologies can not only increase economic growth but also reduce inequalities.


Currently in 2020, Tim and his team are involved in four main initiatives:
• The UKRI GCRF MIDEQ project, which works with migrants in 12 countries and focuses especially on developing technologies that might help them reduce inequalities.
• The TEQtogether initiative, developed initially by colleagues in the Chair to change men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women and technology.
• Crafting a report funded by DFID and the World Bank on how governments can best use digital technologies to restructure their education systems following the immediate crisis caused by COVID-19
• Working with Jigsaw Consult to provide advice to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on the future of its capacity development and training activities.

Professor Tim Unwin

As a human geographer, Tim’s research into the application of ICT to international development has its roots in the research he undertook with Indian colleagues in rural Jharkhand (then South Bihar) in the mid-1970s, which shaped his emphasis on working “with” colleagues in the economically poorer countries of the world, rather than “for” or “on” them. In the early 2000s, he led the UK’s Imfundo initiative, creating partnerships to use ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) effectively for education in Africa, and upon returning to Royal Holloway, University of London, he was inspired to set up the ICT4D initiative in order to build momentum and enact positive change.

Further to his academic research, Tim was Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation from 2011-2015 and served on the UK Department for International Development’s Digital Advisory Panel. He is currently Chair of the UN University Institute in Macau’s International Advisory Board.


Royal Holloway, University of London
Emeritus Professor of Geography


MA, St John’s College, Cambridge
PhD, University of Durham

#Role at UNESCO

Chair in ICT for Development

SINCE 2007



Read about some of the many projects that Professor Unwin has been a part of during his career.



To learn more about how ICT is vital in development activities throughout the world, read some of Tim’s published work below.


INTERNATIONAL DAY International Migrants Day 18.12 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   December 18 We celebrate the International Migrants Day on December 18. READ MORE BELOW MIGRANTS DAY Photo credit, from top to bottom: Nicola Fioravanti, UNESCO Migration is a global phenomenon driven by many forces. These start with aspirations for…
Read More
INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day of Persons with Disabilities 03.12 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   December 3 We celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. READ MORE BELOW DAY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES Photo credit, from top to bottom: Nathan Anderson, Arisa Chattasa. The annual observance of the…
Read More
INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 29.11 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   November 29 We celebrate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29. READ MORE BELOW SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE Photo credit, from top to bottom: Ahmed Abu Hameeda, Cole-Keister.…
Read More
INTERNATIONAL DAY International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25.11 Home  →  What's On  →  Events  →   International Days   →   November 25 We celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25. READ MORE BELOW END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Photo credit, from top to bottom: United Nations, Karl…
Read More


“The UNESCO Chair in ICT4D has been an excellent opportunity for us to build global connections for real impact… and working in many different contexts across the world”

Prof. G. Hari Harindranath


#Technology #Education


Meet the rest of the UK Chairs.

[mapsvg id=”12506″]


Are you interested in becoming a UNESCO UK Expert or Chair? Find out more below

   Join our #ExpertNetwork        


Meet the UK National Commission for UNESCO Accredited Experts

#CulturalHeritage #Restoration


A global network of universities that carry out research to address pressing challenges and contribute.

*by alphabetical order

Our advisors are experts in their field who provide advice to the UK National Commission for UNESCO by reviewing applications for UNESCO designations, prizes and patronage, and contribute to other aspects of our work.

🔮   Explore our #Advisor network     

All our accredited experts are selected to advise the UK National Commission for UNESCO on policy matters related to UNESCO. They are approved by HM government to represent the UK in UNESCO committees, commissions and programmes.

🎓   Meet our #AccreditedExpert     
Professor Alan Jenkins     

#IHP #Science

Professor Ivor Gaber     

#IPDC #Communication

Professor Harry Dixon     

#IHP #Science

Professor Edward Hill     

#IOC #Science

Alan Evans     

#IOC #Science

Professor Sheila McLean     

#Bioethics #Social&HumanScience

Professor Matthew Cragoe     

#Biosphere #RuralBritain

Professor Samar Hasnain     

#SESAME #Science

David Wilson     

#CreativeCities #FilmLiteracy

Sandeep Mahal     

#CreativeCities #Libraries

Melanie Border     

#Geoparks #Sustainability

Liaising with the UK’s Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and approved by HM government, our Non-Executive Directors help steer the direction of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, and are each responsible for overseeing a particular field of UNESCO’s work in the UK.

🧭   Meet our #NonExecutiveDirectors     
Professor Colin McInnes     

#Chair #HumanSciences

Helen Maclagan OBE     

#Vice-Chair #Culture

Karen Merkel     


Professor David Drewry     


Professor Anne Anderson OBE     


Joseph Nhan-O'Reilly     



Our ? Accredited Experts are one of four pillars that form the structure for our ?️ Expert Network. Meet our ? Chairs, our ? Advisors, and our ? Non-Executive Directors

click on the links above


Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands

#Chair Prof. Martin Price

   Explore the #ChairProfile        


Chair in Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity

#Chair Prof. Jackie Harrison

   Explore the #ChairProfile