United Nations Group of Experts, Conference on Geographical Names Conclude Meetings at Headquarters with Model for New Organization

STAT/460
21 August 2017

United Nations Group of Experts, Conference on Geographical Names Conclude Meetings at Headquarters with Model for New Organization

NEW YORK, 18 August (United Nations Statistics Division) — The eleventh United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names and the thirtieth session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names concluded on 17 and 18 August, at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

A total of 278 delegates from 67 Member States and observer organizations came together over a total of 10 days and discussed and decided on national and international geographical names standardization, a new organization structure and working methods, and a strengthened substantive relationship with the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management.

Central to the eleventh Conference was the draft resolution to be presented to the Economic and Social Council on a new organizational structure of the Group of Experts and the Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names, merging and streamlining the two bodies into a new body with biennial five-day meetings.  The progress made regarding this work will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Group of Experts, scheduled for 29 April to 3 May 2019 at United Nations Headquarters.  The President of the eleventh Conference, F.J. Ormeling, stated:  “It makes me especially proud that this conference has achieved notable results, such as defining a new structure for the future, a structure in which all Member State delegations have confidence, a structure with more efficient procedures and better adapted to future requirements.”

Geographical names are so central to person-to-person narration that effective communication cannot be achieved without them.  In addition, standardized geographical names are also central to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, as the monitoring of them cannot be fulfilled sufficiently without solid and reliable geospatial geographical names data.  This task calls for closer coordination with the United Nations Initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management.  Mr. Ormeling underscored this when he said in his closing remarks:  “This conference has been able to define a fruitful relationship between UNGEGN [United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names] and UN-GGIM [United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management], that answers the expectations of the United Nations Statistical Division and has started to implement this relationship through reciprocal presentations on mandates and operation modes.”

Another major result was the passing of a resolution with a United Nations-endorsed conversion system from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet.  The Member States that supported the resolution can now continue the implementation with a clear United Nations mandate.

The Conference celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with an exhibition, considered some 180 working papers and conference reports and held six panel discussions and 13 special presentations that stimulated insightful questions and comments leading to new and strengthened synergies among represented organizations.

The session ended with the Group of Experts adopting decisions which are to be brought to the attention of the Economic and Social Council.  The decisions ranged from resolutions passed at the eleventh Conference and the establishment of a new task team for oral languages.

Standardization of geographical names is of vital importance and the reason why the work of the Group of Experts remains most relevant worldwide.  For additional information on the eleventh Conference and the thirtieth session, visit:

Eleventh Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names:  https://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/UNGEGN/ungegnConf11.html (https://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/UNGEGN/ungegnConf11.html)

Thirtieth session of the Group of Experts on Geographical Names: https://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/UNGEGN/ungegnSession30.html (https://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/UNGEGN/ungegnSession30.html)

For information media. Not an official record.