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Geospatial information: a vital tool to address global challenges

As the world moves to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality and curb the negative effects of climate change, adequate measuring and monitoring of progress through data is a core ingredient for successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. In response to the need for this new data acquisition, the 6th session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), held from 3 to 5 August in New York, focused on the development, application, and understanding of geospatial information as a vital tool for development.

The United Nations initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) aims at playing a leading role in setting the agenda for the development of global geospatial information and to promote its use to address key global challenges. It provides a forum to liaise and coordinate among Member States, and between Member States and international organizations.

During this year’s UN-GGIM, the global geospatial community — 93 Member States, 245 delegates, and 49 Observers (NGOs, private sector, academia, and the UN system and agencies) — discussed and decided on over 14 agenda items, such as geodetic networks, disaster risk reduction, land administration and management, and geo-enabling statistics.

The Committee also addressed the importance of international collaboration and partnerships. Strengthened collaboration between the statistics and geospatial communities is critical to establish the global framework needed to support the 2020 round of national census, as well as the monitoring of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

“The 2030 Agenda addresses the need for new data acquisition and integration approaches to improve the availability, quality, timeliness, and disaggregation of data to support implementation at all levels,” said Mr. Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under Secretary-General. This includes exploiting the potential of a wide range of data, including Earth observations and geospatial information, to ensure that no one is left behind.

On 27 July 2016, and following a year-long consultative process on the comprehensive review of the work and operations of the UN-GGIM, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a draft resolution (E/2016/L.28) entitled “Strengthening institutional arrangements on geospatial information management”. The resolution acknowledges the considerable achievements made over the past five years and the increasing role of the Committee in the coordination and coherence of geospatial information management.

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