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The need for reliable data access to achieve SDG goals: UN-GGIM ‘15

US: The fifth session of United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) started off with a welcome note from Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Economic and Social Affairs, following the announcement of the new bureau for GGIM. Mr. Li Pengde of China, Mr. Rolando Ocampo of Mexico and Mr. Timothy Trainor of United States have been appointed as the co-chairs of the global committee. Dr. Vanessa Lawrence CB, the outgoing co-chair of the commitee, was graciously felicitated for her contribution since 2011 with a special certificate.

Attended by around 300 delegates from over 80 countries hosting 28 side events, the meeting was by far the largest one held since 2011. The theme for the meeting was the ‘importance and role of geospatial data in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)’. Dr. Lawrence noted that with efforts undertaken by various working groups of UNGGIM, geospatial information has increasingly become important as well as recognised by different authorities. It has managed to secure a place in reports such as Global Sustainable Development Report of Africa, MDG report, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is to be adopted in September by heads of states in the UN.

One of the key achievements of UNGGIM was the resolution of Global Geodetic Reference Framework on 26th Feb, 2015. The UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) recognised since its inception the growing demand for more precise positioning services, the economic importance of a global geodetic reference frame and the need to improve the global cooperation within geodesy. UN-GGIM created a Working Group for a Global Geodetic Reference Frame (GGRF), who formulated and facilitated a draft resolution for a Global Geodetic Reference Frame (GGRF), which was adopted by UN-GGIM in July 2014 and ECOSOC in November 2014. On 26 February 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN resolution on Global Geodetic Reference Frame for Sustainable Development that was led by the Republic of Fiji. The Global Geodetic Reference Frame (GGRF) is a generic term describing the framework which allows users to precisely determine and express locations on the Earth, as well as to quantify changes of the Earth in space and time. Most areas of science and society at large depend on being able to determine positions at a high level of precision. At present the GGRF is realised through the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF), International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF) and physical height systems.

Some of the key points brought out by member states during the day’s proceedings included the need for objective, clear, accessible, authoritative and reliable data access for achieving SDG goals, in addition to combining efforts of statistical and geospatial agencies for this purpose. Members also felt that not only should UN-GGIM focus on data generation, but the processes involved in and resource generation should also be a key focus for discussions and deliverables. For this, members supported some Return-on-Investment studies to convince political power to focus on geospatial agencies/data.

Source: Our Correspondent