United Nations

A/S-19/7
E/1997/19


General Assembly

 Distr. GENERAL
4 April 1997
ORIGINAL: ENGLISH


          Letter dated 21 March 1997 from the Permanent Representatives of
            Japan and the United States of America to the United Nations
                        addressed to the Secretary-General


     We would be most grateful for your agreement to circulate, as an
official document of the fifth session of the Commission on
Sustainable Development, to be held in New York from 7 to 25 April
1997, and of the special session of the General Assembly for the
purpose of an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of
Agenda 21, to be held in New York from 23 to 27 June 1997, the
executive summary (see annex) of the Interregional Seminar on Global
Mapping for the Implementation of Multinational Environmental
Agreements, held from 13 to 16 November 1996 at Santa Barbara,
California.  The seminar was jointly organized by the
Department for Development Support and Management Services of
the United Nations Secretariat, the Geographical Survey
Institute, the Ministry of Construction of the Government of Japan,
and the University of California at Santa Barbara.


(Signed)  Hisashi OWADA                      (Signed)  Bill RICHARDSON    
  Permanent Representative                     Permanent Representative
  of Japan to the United Nations           of the United States of America
                                               to the United Nations


                                     Annex

        INTERREGIONAL SEMINAR ON GLOBAL MAPPING FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION
                   OF MULTINATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENTS

               (Santa Barbara, California, 13-16 November 1996)


                               EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

     The Seminar focused on improving understanding of the role that
spatial data products play in the development and implementation of
multinational environmental agreements.  Specifically, the Seminar
documented:  the need for spatial data products in support of the
implementation of multinational environmental agreements; the current
status of global 1:1 million or 1:1 kilometre scale mapping
activities; and the requirements for international coordination of and
cooperation in geospatial data development activities.  The Seminar
was jointly sponsored by the Department for Development Support and
Management Services of the United Nations Secretariat; the University
of California at Santa Barbara; and the Geographical Survey Institute,
Ministry of Construction of the Government of Japan.  The Seminar was
attended by 80 participants from a wide variety of backgrounds,
including academia, government, commercial companies and international
organizations, representing 23 countries spanning the globe, ranging
from small island nations to continental-sized nations.  Topics
covered at the Seminar included discussion and documentation of global
mapping projects; thematic data layers required for a global map
(e.g., topography, hydrology, transportation); limitations of such
maps; harmonization of standards among national mapping organizations;
archiving and access to data; the need for capacity-building in
developing nations; and the overall need for better map products. 
Also discussed were the roles of international organizations in such
areas as financing of spatial data development, facilitating technical
cooperation and collaboration among national mapping organizations and
similar organizations.

     Background information developed for the Seminar noted, in the
context of a changing global environment, that:

     (a)  In many developing countries, even well understood
environmental changes with local causes and effects that, in the
aggregate, may represent a global concern are often very low
priorities for officials compared to such issues as food, health care
and the safety of their people; 

     (b)  Even in highly developed countries where scientific
understanding is widespread, it is often difficult to generate
political and financial support for the correction of widely
recognized environmental problems; 

     (c)  Although the primary concerns of Governments may be related
to needs for national development, many relevant issues are global in
nature;

     (d)  Large-scale, science-based datasets do not exist for most of
the Earth at the present time, even in highly developed countries;

     (e)  Development of those datasets is labour intensive, in terms
of both scientific and technical personnel, and is, therefore,
expensive;

     (f)  Although such datasets could support a wide variety of useful
applications specific to a given locale, no single use can generally
justify the cost of their development;

     (g)  In a number of countries, the high resolution science-based
datasets needed by the world community are classified and are not
permitted to leave the country in any form;

     (h)  In some instances, where such data are exchanged with
"friendly" nations, restrictive agreements can still limit access to
those data;

     (i)  There is a need to improve the archiving of and access to
global geospatial data;

     (j)  There is a need for improved coordination among global
mapping efforts.

     The Seminar was an outgrowth of the activities of the
International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM).  ISCGM
participants come from national mapping organizations, international
organizations, academic institutions and non-governmental
organizations.  ISCGM is working to facilitate the development of
1:1,000,000 scale global map data.  Also working towards this goal are
a number of other organizations and institutions around the globe
(e.g., Earth Map, the United Nations Environment Programme/Global
Resources Information Database, the National Geographic Society, the
International Geosphere Biosphere Programme, and the United States
Geological Survey and National Image and Mapping Agency).  Although
participants recognized the realities of national security, national
sovereignty and other issues (e.g., cost recovery and copyright) that
limit the general availability of high resolution spatial data, they
felt that the time has come to increase coordination in mapping
efforts, wherever feasible.  In discussions, some participants from
small nations felt that the scale of 1:1,000,000 is too coarse for
their countries' needs.  Those participants were very interested in
the potential for the generation of higher resolution datasets for
their regions.

     In presentations, participants heard that the variety and amounts
of Earth observation data of many types are rapidly increasing as new
generations of surface, airborne and satellite-based sensor and
communication systems become operational.  Realization of the
existence and potential of those data are providing impetus to efforts
to coordinate the development of global scale mapping efforts.  That
realization has spurred efforts to calibrate, validate and harmonize
aspects of the collection, formatting, access to and distribution of
those data.  Participants were also told that those Earth observation
data could in essence, form the foundation and provide the building
blocks for a global spatial data infrastructure.  

     Such an infrastructure would include base cartographic and
thematic data (e.g., physical, environmental, socio-economic,
infrastructure and other relevant spatial data).  Over time, it would
foster the harmonization of data so that information from one region
could be integrated with information from other regions, and could be
effectively employed as a tool to improve sustainable development
decision-making.  Making a global spatial data infrastructure a
reality would also involve addressing issues of varied data policies
and forging appropriate partnerships.  Global mapping was recognized
as an important component of the concept. "Global mapping" was
understood here as a process for the creation, maintenance, access,
future development and application of spatial data at appropriate
scales and resolutions.

     Participants were also told of the need to coordinate archiving
and to support international efforts to facilitate access to those
data.  Capacity- building is also needed as developing nations seek to
improve their capabilities to develop their own basic spatial data
framework.  The information that can be derived from those types of
spatial data could contribute significantly to knowledge of both
natural resources characteristics and social/economic dimensions of
countries.  Such data could also assist in the formulation,
monitoring, development and management of policies for the
implementation of multinational environmental agreements.

     Participants strongly supported the concept of a global spatial
data infrastructure.  Although a global spatial data infrastructure is
a key supporting tool to the implementation of several sectoral and
cross sectoral chapters of Agenda 21, it is particularly relevant to
the implementation of chapter 40, "Information for decision-making". 
That chapter is concerned with two main issues, namely "Bridging the
data gap" and "Improving availability of information".  Participants
also believed that international bodies, such as the United Nations
and the World Bank, need to do more to coordinate and to facilitate
the development of a global spatial data infrastructure (i.e.
including provision of the financing for dataset development and
capacity- building).  They believed that such an infrastructure cannot
be developed without the active participation and direct involvement
of national mapping organizations around the globe.

     As their principal output, participants developed the Santa
Barbara Statement, and agreed to work towards the goal of an
integrated global spatial data infrastructure.  The Santa Barbara
Statement, the text of which is reproduced below, presents the
conclusions, recommendations and actions agreed to by participants at
the Seminar.


                            Santa Barbara Statement

     Approaching the dawn of the twenty-first century, the
international community is entering a challenging new era of
development.  Globalization, openness and interdependence are now
recognized as key features of the world economy.  Objectives under
Agenda 21, particularly those related to chapter 40, "Information for
decision-making", can only be effectively implemented with improved
worldwide availability of and access to relevant spatial data, such as
those displayed on maps.  Recognizing that current global mapping
efforts are primarily driven by global change concerns, future
progress must also be responsive to more immediate national priorities
that enhance economic growth and ensure sustainable development.  

     The Interregional Seminar on Global Mapping for the Implementation
of Multinational Environmental Agreements (Santa Barbara, California,
13-16 November 1996) builds upon recommendations made at the First
International Workshop on Global Mapping held at Izumo, Japan, in
1994.  Participants at Santa Barbara agreed that actions are needed to
facilitate expanded, cooperative efforts on global mapping.  Actions
needed include:
 
     (a)  Finding ways to increase scientific and technological
development of mapping organizations in both the developed and
developing countries in order to produce better map and information
products; 

     (b)  Increasing technical assistance for country capacity-building
so that Governments can use spatial data products more effectively and
efficiently; 

     (c)  Strengthening of mechanisms that improve the provision of
technical and economic assistance to developing countries in order to
support the collection, production, archiving and dissemination of map
data, which can then be integrated into global spatial data products; 

     (d)  Designating the International Steering Committee for Global
Mapping (ISCGM), which includes representatives of national mapping
organizations and the international community, to coordinate the
development of a global spatial data infrastructure.  

     Mapping of core information required to make decisions consistent
with sustainable development needs to be addressed on a global scale. 
A diverse group, which includes national mapping organizations, space
agencies, international scientific organizations, national research
institutes, private-sector agencies and data sources, academia,
non-governmental organizations, donors, development banks and the
United Nations, all have a stake in global mapping.  Global mapping is
critical to the concept of a global spatial data infrastructure. 
"Global mapping" is understood here as a process for the creation,
maintenance, access, future development and application of spatial
data at appropriate scales and resolutions.  A global spatial data
infrastructure would include base cartographic and thematic data
(e.g. physical, environmental, socio-economic, infrastructure and
other relevant spatial data). Over time, the infrastructure would
foster the harmonization of data so that information from one region
could be integrated with information from other regions and
effectively employed as a tool to improve sustainable development
decision-making.  Making a global spatial data infrastructure a
reality will also involve addressing issues of varied data policies
and forging appropriate partnerships.

     Participants at Santa Barbara strongly believe that this Seminar
provided an important opportunity to advance the concept of a global
spatial data infrastructure.  They recognize that the need for map and
information products relevant to sustainable development is global:

     (a)  The primary concern of developing countries and economies in
transition is related to pressing national development issues that
could be better achieved with the availability of a global spatial
data infrastructure;

     (b)  Incentives must be provided to foster cooperation within and
among countries in efforts to produce, maintain and disseminate
accurate maps and information products;

     (c)  A variety of technical and institutional challenges must be
overcome if progress is to be realized.

     Participants recognize the reasons why adequate global scale maps
do not exist at present.  Issues of national security, sovereignty,
technology, capacity and infrastructure limit opportunities for
international cooperation. Those restrictions currently combine to
limit global map development activities to scales of 1:1,000,000.  To
maximize the benefit of global map products, spatial data-sharing
needs to be encouraged on that scale and better, wherever possible. 
Such efforts must support spatial data requirements at varying scales
and resolutions in order to meet specific local and national
priorities.  Current access policies (e.g., distribution and sharing
restrictions) must be addressed so that they do not become constraints
to the creation of globally consistent datasets.

     The seminar confirmed that there are a number of ongoing efforts
contributing to the production of a global map framework. 
Participants encourage national mapping organizations, including those
from countries facing technical and financial constraints, to continue
efforts that contribute to the objective of creating better more
accessible maps at scales from local to global levels.  Participants
recognize the special role of ISCGM as a catalyst in this endeavour,
and expect ISCGM to play a leading role in implementing, where
appropriate, recommendations made by participants at the Santa Barbara
Seminar.

     Participants at the Seminar appreciate the effort made by its
organizers, and recognize the input of the Seminar to furthering the
implementation of global mapping within a global spatial data
infrastructure.  Participants recommend the following: 

     1.   A global mapping forum must be created, bringing together
     data users and providers to facilitate the creation of a global
     spatial data infrastructure.  A variety of national, regional and
     international organizations, non-governmental organizations,
     private-sector companies, academia, national mapping
     organizations, and space agencies, as well as other relevant
     organizations, must be involved in this effort.  ISCGM should
     undertake a study to create such a forum and determine the
     responsibilities necessary, such as periodic assessments of
     progress, harmonization of standards, and mechanisms for the
     establishment of a global mapping network.  Such a network would
     be connected to the Internet and/or other means to facilitate
     communications.

     2.   Agencies implementing Agenda 21 accords should precisely
     define their spatial data and information requirements for
     implementation, compliance and monitoring, with the assistance of
     expert groups (e.g., ISCGM).  Those requirements should be
     included as priorities of a global spatial data infrastructure.

     3.   Financial and other incentives for project partnerships
     within a global spatial data infrastructure should be devised to
     facilitate the participation of national institutions of
     developing countries and economies in transition.

     4.   Donor agencies and development banks should increase
     assistance to institutions in developing countries and economies
     in transition to improve the quality of spatial data products and
     services, and should facilitate access to those data for the
     creation of regional and global map products.

     5.   Issues related to spatial data policy and access must be
     discussed by the United Nations regional cartographic conferences.

     6.   Overall global map development should be fostered under the
     umbrella of the United Nations, and should recognize initiatives
     being taken at the national, regional and global levels.

     7.   The United Nations Environment Programme Global Resource
     Information Database and other United Nations programmes directly
     involved in global spatial data infrastructure activities should
     be strengthened to provide necessary technical support systems and
     metadata services to United Nations agencies and member countries.

     8.   Complementary efforts for the provision of technical support
     by a variety of national, regional and international organizations
     should be encouraged and coordinated in strengthening global
     spatial data infrastructure activities.

     9.   The above-mentioned recommendations should be contained in a
     report to be presented to the special session of the United
     Nations General Assembly for the purpose of an overall review and
     appraisal of the implementation of Agenda 21, in 1997.  That
     report will make a clear and practical proposal for
     implementation, developed under the auspices of the Department for
     Development Support and Management Services of the United Nations
     Secretariat, with the assistance of ISCGM. 


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