United Nations First High Level Forum on Global Geospatial Information Management

23 – 27 October 2011, Seoul, Republic of Korea

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Electronic Sand Art Presentation at the Opening Session depicting the optimism and hope in this inaugural High Level Forum

The United Nations First High Level Forum on Global Geospatial Information Management was opened by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, H.E. KIM Hwang-Sik, United Nations Under-Secretary-General, H.E. Sha Zukang and Chair of the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies (JBGIS), Prof. Dr. William Cartwright. The event was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea and chaired by Mr. LEEM Seong-An, President of Korea’s National Geographic Information Institute. This inaugural Forum brought together approximately 350 participants from 90 Member States together with 22 representatives from the United Nations and 37 representatives from international organizations and the private sector.

At the opening session, the Prime Minister of Korea stressed that geospatial information is most fundamental and essential to support joint efforts in resolving global issues and both the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Chair, JBGIS, further affirmed this. The Ministerial Segment that proceeded the opening session kicked off the Forum and Ministers from eight Member States argued the important role of geospatial information in policy formulation and evidence-based decision making for national development and addressing global challenges. The Ministers also stressed the importance of working together, whilst Member States context and circumstances may differ, the benefits of collaboration and cooperation was highlighted. This was of particular significance for Member States will lesser capacity as it provided access to additional capabilities and capacities as well as larger infrastructure that otherwise would not be available.

Four thematic sessions focussing on Challenges of Geospatial Policy Formulation and Institutional Arrangement; Developing Common Frameworks and Methodologies; International Coordination and Cooperation in Meeting Global Needs and Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer, followed the Ministerial Segment.

International geospatial information societies through the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies collectively prepared the keynote presentation for the third session of the Forum themed “International Coordination and Cooperation in Meeting Global Needs”. Prof Dr. William Cartwright made the presentation that was well received. The Forum recognized the important role of international geospatial information societies, of which FIG is one of them, as well as standards setting organizations and welcomed their contributions. Member States also voiced their support and desire to collaborate with these societies and organizations to further the vision and goal of UN-GGIM. International geospatial information societies at the Forum, including FIG, affirmed their commitment and together with the academia, pledged to use their collective professional expertise, research and development capacities to help realize the vision and goal of UN-GGIM, in particular, of building appropriate and sustainable geospatial information infrastructure at national, regional and global levels and of enhanced collaboration in the generation, dissemination and sharing of geospatial information.

The Forum also expressed the need to develop effective strategies for building and strengthening capacity of Member States where a holistic capacity building effort was recommended that includes capacity assessment, capacity enhancement, building of knowledge and institutions, education, research and outreach as well as an appropriate funding mechanism, especially in development countries.

It should also be noted that the Forum acknowledged the importance of effective regional cooperation and urged greater efforts be made in this regard as coordinated and strong regional activities would build an effective global geospatial information infrastructure.

FIG together with allied organizations within the JBGIS opined that there is a need for international coordination on global geospatial information management with a vision to migrate to a paradigm of managing all information geospatially. There will be issues that will need to be addressed including –

  • Policy that enabled data sharing;
  • Adoption of the highly stable International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) as the geodetic datum for all geospatial information;
  • Integration of (geospatial) location information in solutions for social, security, environmental and economic issues;
  • Utilization of (geospatial) location-based analysis in evidence-based decision making;
  • Use of visualization representation to clearly communicate issues and solutions;
  • Access to information via web and mobile applications (Apps);
  • Educational framework;
  • Technical and institutional development of geospatial data management;
  • Development and applicability of management tools in order to make best use of geospatial data; and
  • Development of awareness at all levels of society – citizens, institutions and decision-makers.

Collaborating on these issues will promote the sharing of information that is critical to finding solutions to global problems.

This United Nations initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) aims at coordinating among and between Member States as well as international organizations to promote the use of geospatial information to address global challenges. The United Nations First High Level Forum on Global Geospatial Information Management was the culmination of over two years of leadership, efforts and preparation led by the United Nations Statistics Division and the United Nations Cartographic Section. Three preparatory meetings on Global Geospatial Information Management were convened - the first in Bangkok in October 2009, prior to the 18th UNRCC-AP, the second in New York, in May 2010, and the third also in New York, in April 2011. FIG together with other allied organizations from the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies (JBGIS) participated and contributed toward this effort.

CheeHai TEO
October 2011

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United Nations Under-Secretary-General, H.E. Sha Zukang addressing the Forum during the Opening Session

11 November 2011

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