Home Articles UN – GGIM: Geo-information to address global challenges

UN – GGIM: Geo-information to address global challenges

The first high level forum on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM), held in Seoul, South Korea from 24 to 26 October 2011, brought together 350 participants from 90 countries, 22 United Nations representatives and 37 representatives from international organisations and the private sector.

Organised by the United Nations, the forum offered an ideal platform for the participants to discuss some of the key challenges facing the world and the role of geospatial information technology in effectively tackling those problems.

The forum opened with a ministerial segment where ministers from eight countries (Korea, Chile, Finland, India, Malaysia, Mongolia, Namibia and Niger) exchanged views on the role of geospatial information in national development. The segment was followed by thematic sessions on "Challenges in 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".



The speakers noted that the importance of geospatial information (GI) was not fully understood because it was 'a



  • over the place'; with many different ministries being responsible in different countries and in many cases lacking coordination.

    Addressing the gathering during the inagural, Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik of the Republic of Korea stressed that geospatial information is the most fundamental and essential tool to support the planet's joint efforts in resolving global issues. By interconnecting information on natural disasters, poverty and the environment through location data, global issues such as sustainable development and poverty eradication can be systematically and effectively managed.

    Subsequently, the session on challenges in policy formulations stressed that the challenges varied according to the conditions in individual countries but common themes were coping with the speed of technical progress, ranging from transition from analogue to digital in some countries to using the cloud in others; satisfying the needs of an increasingly knowledgeable market; the global economic market and, above all, making decision makers aware of the power and importance of geospatial data.

    The second day started with the theme of Developing Common Frameworks and Methodologies. The keynote on PC-GIAP (Permanent Committee on GIS Infrastructure for Asia and the Pacific) set out three frameworks: geodetic, technical and institutional and noted that there is a need to keep these up-to-date as out-of-date regulations could hinder the effective operation of NMOs. Discussions during the day emphasised the need for data sharing, particularly as an aid for developing countries and as a means to level the differences between less developed and developed nations.

    The final theme of the high level conference stressed on the need for capacity building and knowledge transfer. The keynote concentrated on processes for capacity building in Africa, but other speakers discussed general concepts of capacity building and leadership with examples of their own countries. The discussion followed up on the schools theme where participants suggested competitions for school children making use of geospatial data. Two important messages from the session were the need for a top down approach to capacity building and some mechanism for a coordinated approach to ensure sustainability.

    The closing session summarised the discussion and outcomes and the participants approved the Seoul Declaration which resolved to support the UN initiative and take actions to strengthen national cooperation, develop processes and share experiences to promote global geospatial information management.

    The meeting concluded with the formal meeting of the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management which endorsed the findings of the Forum and planned the programme of work of the Committee.

    Seoul Declaration

    Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM)

    We, the participants of the First High Level Forum on Global Geospatial Information Management held in Seoul, Korea, on October 24 to 26, 2011, having met in the context of United Nations initiatives to enhance global cooperation in the field of geospatial information management in order to help overcome global challenges, hereby issue this Seoul Declaration on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM).

    Recalling Resolution 2011/24 of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which recognized the need to promote international cooperation in the field of global geospatial information; Recalling further the United Nations Secretary- General's Report E/2011/89, which encouraged the strengthening of cooperation among Member States and International Organizations and emphasized the urgency in establishing concrete actions for the further development of global geospatial information in order to adequately respond to global challenges;

    Recognizing the need for full interoperability of multi-dimensional geospatial information and integration with other data sources at national, regional, and global level, in order to provide an effective information base for the resolution of global and local issues, and the need for establishing national, regional and global mechanisms for effective management and utilization of such information; Sharing a global vision and conviction that reliable and timely geospatial information is an important basis for policy decision making, especially in the context of humanitarian assistance and sustainable development;

    We, therefore resolve,

    • to express our support for the initiative of the United Nations to foster geospatial information management among UN Member States, international organizations, and the private sector; and in this regard:
    • to take actions to foster and strengthen national, regional and global cooperation with the aim of developing an interconnected global community of practice on geospatial information under the umbrella of the United Nations;
    • to devise effective processes for jointly and collaboratively promoting common frameworks and standards, as well as harmonized definitions and methods for the treatment of national geospatial data in order to enhance geospatial information management at the national, regional and global level;
    • to share experiences in policy-making, supporting legislation, and funding strategies, to encourage and develop best practices in geospatial information management (i.e. collection, storage, maintenance and dissemination) at all levels, including integration of spatial data with thematic data from other sources, and to facilitate and promote capacity development in the developing countries.
    Issued on 26 Oct 2011