Strengthening institutional arrangements on geospatial information management

Measuring each country’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require innovative approaches to collecting and integrating data. We cannot keep the 2030 Agenda’s promise of leaving no one behind if we do not count everyone first.

The 2030 Agenda’s integrated approach to global problems ushered in a new era in thinking about sustainable development. The way countries collect, process and manage data must undergo a similar revolution to adequately inform decision-making and monitor progress towards the SDGs.

The seventh session of the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), which will be held at UN Headquarters from 2 to 4 August 2017, is a unique opportunity to strengthen the coordination and coherence of geospatial information.

More coherence and integration of data would allow for statistics, geospatial information, Earth observations, environmental and other big data to form a new “data ecosystem” for development.

Such an ecosystem, made up of comprehensive and integrated information systems, would enable us to effectively monitor the state of our planet and inform the decisions of citizens, organizations and governments with timely data.

The data challenges we face are immense, but the digital technology that allows the necessary transformation already exists.

UN-GGIM is advancing new approaches to data by implementing a global policy framework that will enable countries to better integrate geospatial and other key information into global development policies and into their own national plans to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Established in 2011, UN-GGIM sets directions for the production and use of geospatial information within national and global policy frameworks. The Committee of Experts works to develop effective strategies for building and strengthening geospatial information capacity of nations, especially of developing countries.

The Committee strives for countries to have access to more and better data, but also to make their information systems more integrated, interoperable and accessible. Only building an interconnected data ecosystem will allow states to properly plan for SDGs implementation, measure progress towards the Global Goals and compare themselves to others.

To help achieve that, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in its resolution, “Strengthening institutional arrangements on geospatial information management,” adopted last year, called for “broadening and strengthening the mandate of the Committee of Experts as the relevant body on geospatial information consisting of government experts.”

Currently, the Committee supports countries in promoting the use of geospatial information and services for modern mapping and information systems, developing methodologies, national and regional capacity-building, standards-setting, data collection, dissemination and sharing, and better integration of geospatial and statistical information systems.

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