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16 September 2021 | By invitation only


The COVID-19 pandemic has hit hard all economies across the globe. Some of the economies most affected have been those heavily dependent on cross-border travel and tourism services. Millions of jobs have now been lost in this sector in Asia and the Pacific. As vaccination programmes are being rolled out across the world and countries reopen and/or lift quarantine requirements for people who have received vaccination, the ability of governments to effectively control who has or not been vaccinated is rapidly becoming key to facilitating the recovery of travel and tourism. The EU has recently deployed an electronic sanitary pass system enabling swift verification of vaccination status of citizens across all EU countries, enabling safe and nearly seamless movement of people to resume across borders – within the EU. ESCAP, in collaboration with WHO and development partners, is organizing a regional workshop to share information about the recent development, to learn lessons from some practices, and to explore ways of cooperation for establishing digital certificate system and mutual recognition of systems from different countries.

Note: English-Russian interpretation is available. 

20 Oct 2021 Update: Following the workshop, we have released a Quick Guide on Digital COVID-19 Certificates: Re-enabling Cross-Border Travel.

16 Sep 2021
Opening Remarks
  • Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations ESCAP
  • Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Assistant Director General, Chief Scientist, WHO

Presentations session

Moderator: Mr. Yann Duval, Chief of Trade Policy and Facilitation, United Nations ESCAP

  • COVID-19 situation and WHO tools and guidance related to international travel and digital documentation
    • Dr. Garrett Mehl, Unit Head of Digital Health Technology, WHO                                                                                         
  • India’s COWIN, a comprehensive solution for vaccination, a cloud web-based system
    • Mr. Thampy Koshy, Advisor to the Technical Unit of the National Health Authority, India
  • Experience from EU Digital COVID Certificate 
    • Mr. Michiel Sweerts, Policy Officer - eHealth, Well-being and Ageing, DG CONNECT European Commission
    • Mr. Kostantin Hypponen, Policy Officer – DG Health and Food Safety (SANTE) European Commission
Panel session
  • Utilizing the existing e-passport system, Visible Digital Seals Non-Constraint   
    • Mr. Christopher Hornek, International Civil Aviation Organization
  • Global COVID Certificate Network, Building a decentralized trust registry                       
    • Ms. Lucy Yang, Community Director, COVID Credentials Initiative (CCI) Linux Foundation Public Health
  • Experience of COOV, Efforts for the recognition in other countries                   
    • Mr. Woojin Jung, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency 
Q&A session
Closing remarks
Kaveh Zahedi
Mr. Kaveh Zahedi
Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nation ESCAP
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Mr. Kaveh Zahedi is the Deputy Executive Secretary the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP).

Prior to this, Mr. Zahedi worked at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) including as its Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific and Deputy Director of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, overseeing work on green economy, resource efficiency and climate change. He also set up and headed the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

Before UNEP, Mr. Zahedi worked at an NGO as project manager for micro credit and development projects in Latin America and the Middle East.

Over two decades Mr. Zahedi has worked for the United Nations in Kenya, Mexico, UK, France and Thailand. He holds a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, USA, and a BSc first class degree in Economics & Geography, from University College London.

Soumya Swaminathan
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan
Assistant Director General, Chief Scientist, WHO
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Dr. Soumya Swaminathan was appointed WHO’s first Chief Scientist in March 2019.

A paediatrician from India and a globally recognized researcher on tuberculosis and HIV, she brings with her 30 years of experience in clinical care and research and has worked throughout her career to translate research into impactful programmes.

Dr. Swaminathan was Secretary to the Government of India for Health Research and Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research from 2015 to 2017. In that position, she focused on bringing science and evidence into health policy making, building research capacity in Indian medical schools and forging south-south partnerships in health sciences.

From 2009 to 2011, she also served as Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva.

She received her academic training in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and has published more than 350 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. She is an elected Foreign Fellow of the US National Academy of Medicine and a Fellow of all three science academies in India.

The Science division’s role is to ensure that WHO stays ahead of the curve and leverages advances in science and technology for public health and clinical care, as well as ensuring that the norms, standards and guidelines produced by WHO are scientifically excellent, relevant and timely. Her vision is to ensure that WHO is at the cutting edge of science and is able to translate new knowledge into meaningful impact on population health worldwide.

ํYann Duval
Mr. Yann Duval
Chief of Trade Policy and Facilitation, United Nations ESCAP
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Mr. Yann Duval is currently Chief of Trade Policy and Facilitation at ESCAP, the regional branch of the United Nations Secretariat for Asia and the Pacific.

Over the past 15 years, Mr. Duval has conducted research and delivered technical assistance and advisory services on trade policy and facilitation throughout Asia and the Pacific, including on the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. He spearheaded the development of the Asia-Pacific Research and Training Network on Trade (ARTNeT), as well as the creation of the ESCAP-World Bank Trade Cost Database and the UN Global Survey on Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation. Mr. Duval was also instrumental in the development of the United Nations Network of Experts for Paperless Trade and Transport in Asia and the Pacific (UNNExT) and the negotiation of a new intergovernmental Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific, adopted as a UN treaty in 2016.

Prior to joining the UN, He held faculty positions at the Asian Institute of Technology and Washington State University, USA.

Garrett Mehl
Dr. Garrett Mehl
Unit Head of Digital Health Technology, WHO
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Dr. Garrett Mehl leads research on digital health innovations at WHO. He leads evidence synthesis and guidelines development through the WHO Technical and Evidence Review Group on mHealth for Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (mTERG), and is co-lead of the Health Data Collaborative Working Group on Digital Health and Interoperability that focuses on supporting country-level investments into standards-based digital health information systems.

Additionally, He is the principal scientist coordinating the THRIVE (Technologies for Health Registries, Information, and Vital Events) Consortium multisite research trial of the Open Smart Register Platform (OpenSRP; that focuses on validating and adapting across multiple countries the use of digital registries for improving frontline health-worker service delivery of essential interventions across the continuum of care.

Previously, Dr. Mehl coordinated research and evaluation on adolescents in the WHO Department of Child and Adolescent Health; and contributed to the development of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Previously, he worked at the Rockefeller Foundation, the World Bank, Johns Hopkins University, and the International Eye Foundation.

Dr. Mehl holds doctoral and masters degrees in International Health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.

He has lived and worked on health in developing countries for over 15 years

Thampy Koshy
Mr. Thampy Koshy
Advisor to the Technical Unit of the National Health Authority, India
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Mr. Thampy Koshy has over 25 years of professional experience in the Government & Public sector.

He has played several leadership roles in many digital transformation and consulting programs for Public health projects in India & other LMICs.

He has also been an influential subject matter expert in multiple industry segments such as Identity, Social Protection and Pensions.

In his current capacity, Koshy has been playing the role of a technical advisor for the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, India on the implementation of India’s national vaccination program and digital platform (Co-WIN).

Michiel Sweerts
Mr. Michiel Sweerts
Policy Officer - eHealth, Well-being and Ageing, DG CONNECT European Commission
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Mr. Michiel Sweerts works for European Commission, DG CNECT, eHealth unit (have been part of the EU DCC team since its inception) since Autumn 2020. During 2007 – 2020, he was senior auditor covering a wide range of policy areas, including most recently technology and security at European Court of Auditor. Before that he was a manager at PwC in London (energy sector) and regulatory and operational affairs in the Belgian electricity and gas sector year 1997 – 2006. He holds a chartered accountant (UK), as well as law degree and master’s in management.

Konstantin Hypponen
Mr. Konstantin Hypponen
Policy Officer, DG Health and Food Safety (SANTE) European Commission
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Mr. Konstantin Hyppönen is a policy officer working on digital health in DG SANTE of the European Commission. He is currently participating in design of the European Health Data Space.

Previously, he has taken part in a number of international projects, including setting up the EU Digital COVID Certificate system, and cross-border ePrescription and Patient Summary services between EU member states.

During 2018-2020, he acted as the chair of the eHealth Member States Expert Group (eHMSEG) supporting the deployment of the European cross-border eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure.

Before joining the Commission, in Finland, Mr. Hyppönen has worked as a chief architect in Kela's Information Services, responsible for the technical architecture of the Finnish eHealth hub, Kanta Services.

Christopher Hornek
Mr. Christopher Hornek
ICAO Annex 9 Subject Matter Expert, Air Transport Bureau, International Civil Aviation Organization
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Mr. Christopher Hornek is a consultant for the ICAO Facilitation Section, where he is a Subject Matter Expert for ICAO Annex 9 and a Passenger Data Exchange Expert.

Before becoming a consultant, Mr. Hornek worked for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as a Facilitation Manager, working on passenger data, border control and general facilitation issues. With IATA Mr. Hornek was the Secretary of the IATA/Control Authorities Working Group (CAWG) and helped to prepare industry positions at the ICAO Facilitation Panel.

Previously, Mr. Hornek was with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), where he managed the OSCE Travel Document Security (TDS) programme for 10 years, followed by two years as the Project Co-ordinator of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. He also was posted to the OSCE Centre in Tashkent in Uzbekistan from 2004-2005.

Mr. Hornek has contributed to both the ICAO Technical Advisory Group (TAG)/Traveller Identification Programme (TRIP) working groups, the New Technologies Working Group (NTWG) and Implementation and Capacity Building Working Group (ICBWG).

Mr. Hornek also has policy experience having developed two OSCE Ministerial Council decisions, the 2009 decision encouraging OSCE participating States to participate in the ICAO Public Key Directory (PKD) and the 2016 decision on adherence to Advance Passenger Information programmes aligned with ICAO Annex 9.

Mr. Hornek holds a Master of Advanced International Studies from the Diplomatic Academy Vienna and a Bachelor of Arts in Modern European History and International Business from Santa Clara University, Ca, USA.

Lucy Yang
Ms. Lucy Yang
Community Director, COVID Credentials Initiative, Linux Foundation Public Health
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Ms. Lucy Yang joined the COVID Credentials Initiative (CCI) from day one and has since led the strategy, operations and communications of the community. She played an instrumental role in taking CCI into Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH). After joining LFPH, while still running the CCI community, she works with the LFPH team to support public health authorities and their stakeholders as they navigate through the technology landscape for COVID certificates and led the launch of the Global COVID Certificate Network (GCCN).

Lucy is an entrepreneur and business leader, experienced in taking ventures off the ground and leading their growth from 0 to 10. Prior to moving to Toronto from Beijing, she single-handedly launched the mainland China office for her first company and expanded the reach of its entrepreneurship program from one to four major cities within a year. After that, Lucy joined a tech startup as the fifth member and oversaw the operations during its early expansion, ensuring the readiness of the necessary infrastructure for client growth from 30 to 1000 within less than a year.

During her MBA at the University of Toronto, Lucy co-founded a social project that was covered by over 10+ media outlets including CBC and CTV. While at a blockchain venture development firm post-MBA, Lucy led the business operations while supporting portfolio ventures in business development, market research, and product development.

Lucy also holds a master’s degree in anthropology and proudly calls herself a lifetime anthropologist. 

Woojin Jung
Mr. Woojin Jung
Director of Information and Statistics, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency
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Mr. Woojin Jung manages all of the systems in KDCA. He has expreience in system managing for public health and social security in the Ministry of Health and Welfare(MOHW) during last decade.

From this year, he belongs to KDCA as the director which manage vaccination systems include digital vaccination certification, COOV.

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Trade, Investment and Innovation Division +66 2 288-1234 [email protected]
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