UN Committee Discusses Geospatial Information for Sustainable Development

United Nations12 August 2014: Ministers and senior leaders discussed how to ensure more consistent locational positioning and mapping across the globe at the fourth session of the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM). The Committee is mandated to assist in making accurate, authoritative and reliable geospatial information available to support global, regional and national development, including for the post-2015 development agenda, as well as to enhance collaboration among Member States.

“You cannot measure and monitor sustainable development over time in a consistent manner without geography, place and location,” stresses the June 2014 report ‘Activities related to sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda' (E/C.20/2014/13/Add.1), which the Committee discussed. The report, inter alia, emphasizes that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will depend on geospatial information and human and physical geography data to measure change and monitor progress. The report urges Member States to ensure the inclusion of language on data disaggregated by geographic location under SDG targets on data, monitoring and accountability.

The Committee recognized the importance of consistent, precise positioning in predicting, monitoring and managing global challenges, including those related to climate change, disease pandemics, disaster recovery and food shortages. For example, emergency services use geospatial data to gain situational awareness of disaster areas in changing environments, such as earthquakes, floods and landslides, which enables them to respond faster and save more lives, participants noted.

In opening remarks, Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, highlighted the role of geo-statistical data in improving governments' ability to “examine, monitor, manage, propose and predict development and growth options for a sustainable future.” Wu also stressed the importance of geospatial information in decision making, policy formulation, measuring and monitoring development, including for the post-2015 agenda.

The Committee discussed, inter alia: developing global mapping for sustainable development; establishing and implementing geospatial standards; enhancing the global geodetic reference frame; linking geospatial information to statistics; and developing country capacity. The Committee also discussed the development of a statement of principles for the geospatial community and legal and policy frameworks.

The session took place from 6-8 August 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) established the Committee in July 2011 as the official consultative mechanism on GGIM. The Committee aims to promote common principles, methods, policies and standards on geospatial data and services. [UN Press Release] [Wu Statement] [E/C.20/2014/13/Add.1] [Committee Website]