Building Institutional Capacity in Public Policy Development in the Field - A Decision Maker’s Toolkit of AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications continue to expand opportunities for progress of humankind and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. UNESCO is working to harness these opportunities in its fields of competence and is leading reflections around pressing concerns related to the rapid development of AI, from a Human Rights and ethics perspective. These range from AI’s role in the futures of education, the omnipresent challenges of disinformation and hate speech online, to promoting gender equality in the AI Sector and combatting algorithmic bias.

Why the AI Decision Makers’ Essential?

Thirty-two countries in Africa responded to UNESCO’s AI Needs Assessment Survey in Africa and have underlined the importance of UNESCO’s work concerning AI in the fields of education, sciences, culture and communication and information. They have requested UNESCO’s support for standard setting, policy advise, capacity building, network development and for addressing gender equality related concerns in the development and use of AI.


How does the AI Decision Makers’ Essential address these needs?

The AI Decision Makers’ Essential is a collection of knowledge products and tools from across UNESCO’s fields of competence to help decision makers address some of the practical questions they face with respect to the development, use and governance of AI. The Decision Maker's Essential will enable decision makers to respond to the challenges and opportunities of AI through guidance on policy development and provision of capacity building resources in UNESCO's fields of competence.

What is the target audience of the AI Decision Maker’s Essential?

Decision making related to AI is a multistakeholder process where governments, civil society, private sector, technical community and international organisations must work together. The primary target audience of the toolkit is decision makers within governments. The relevance of the recommendation and implementation guide to other stakeholders will be underlined based on the thematic areas being addressed.

Who are the target decision makers within the government?

Decision making in government is a multi-layered process that involves ministers, civil services, regulatory agencies, implementation boards among others. The toolkit will address the needs of these public sector stakeholders through its different elements while also providing resources for other stakeholder groups.

What are the key elements of the AI Decision Maker’s Essential?

Thematic Focus

The thematic focus of the toolkit is aligned with the themes of the UNESCO AI Ethics Recommendation.

Elements of the Toolkit


  • Foresight: This section will provide decision makers a view of some of the potential changes that would take place in society due to AI over the next 5 years to 10 years.
  • Recommendations: UNESCO’s work on the Ethics of AI and through its different initiatives in education, sciences, culture, communication and information have produced several ‘Options for Actions’ for different stakeholders concerning AI.
  • Implementation Guides: This section would provide decision makers guidance on how to implement recommendations across different thematic areas of the toolkit.
  • Model use cases: Evidence in the form of model cases will inform decision makers of the potential impact of their decisions, thereby supporting evidence-based decision making in the field of AI governance.
  • Online Learning Tools: The Decision Maker’s Essential will provide a collection of online learning resources to bridge capacity gaps.
  • AI Policy Process: This section would outline a policy making process and provide examples based on analysis of existing policies and interviews with experts involved in the development and implementation of AI policies in their countries.

The toolkit work is ongoing and will continue to evolve.

A first draft of the AI Ethics recommendation has been produced (more info here)

Stay tuned for more information and join us!