UNGGIM Mexico City Declaration on implementing the SDGs and acknowledging the role of Geospatial technology and innovation in achieving social development is another appreciable step towards achieving The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.
The United Nations has since long recognized the need for the integration of geospatial and non-geospatial data for achieving the SDGs and taking commendable steps in spreading the awareness. Following the suite, UN Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM) conducted The Fifth High Level Forum in Mexico from 28 to 30 November 2017. The participants met in the context of UN’s initiatives to enhance the role of geospatial technology and innovation in implementing the SDGs, and to substantively improve and strengthen the national geospatial information management capacities of countries, particularly developing countries, towards implementing the 2030 Agenda. The outcome of the Forum was ‘The Mexico City Declaration on Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: The Role of Geospatial Technology and Innovation.’
UN has kept reducing disaster risk, protecting the climate, and strengthening resilience and fostering sustainable development at the core of three important international agreements adopted in 2015: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Disasters reverse the development gains. They destroy the outcomes of years of work and investment by communities, governments and development organizations. The loss caused by each disaster is unimaginable.
Asia-Pacific, as the world’s most disaster-prone region, has shouldered the burden of more than two million lives lost with economic damage of approximately $1.3 trillion between 1970 and 2016. Add to that the woeful living conditions that plague the region and the loss become unquantifiable.
In view of these alarming facts, the United Nations have long been taking steps to mitigate the risks of disasters, using geospatial technologies for the purpose, being an important one.
As The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017 puts it, “For disaster risk reduction to be successful, one must take account of the shifting risks associated with climate change and ensure that measures do not increase vulnerability to climate change in the medium to long term. Traditionally hazard analysis has been based on historical data, but this is no longer sufficient, because hazard characteristics are changing as a result of climate change. For instance, a 100-year flood or drought may become a 30-year flood or drought.”
Traditional statistics for disaster risk reduction must be complemented with earth observation data and geospatial information. Satellite imagery is already enabling the world to combat disaster risks and carry out more effective response, and the developing economies must follow the trend. Few efforts have been made, but increased use of technologies including geospatial is required to be prepared in a better way.
Moving ahead, participants from over 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, got together in Bonn, Germany on November 22 to consider how space technology can help make societies more environmentally-friendly and more resilient to challenges such as disasters and climate change. Participants outlined some elements for the roadmap for enhanced resiliency of space-based systems and the affiliation of existing and future space-based constellations for disaster risk reduction and climate change monitoring and mitigation.
UNGGIM has long been encouraging the continued and productive integration of geospatial and statistical information as well as improvement of institutional coordination between national statistical offices and national geospatial and mapping agencies for achievement of SDGs and better management of disaster risks. The Bonn Declaration and The Mexico City Declaration on Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: The Role of Geospatial Technology and Innovation are further concrete steps in this direction.