News in 2013

The United Nations

Second High Level Forum on Global Geospatial Information Management

Doha, State of Qatar, 3-6 February 2013

The Forum was staged pursuant to the mandate from the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to convene global forums to promote comprehensive dialogue on global geospatial information management with all relevant governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The Forum provides member states and stakeholders the unique opportunity to share and learn from each other to support local, regional and global sustainable development initiatives.

The United Nations initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) aims at playing a leading role in setting the agenda for the development of global geospatial information and to promote its use to address key global challenges.

The Forum was hosted by the Qatar Statistics Authority at the recently constructed Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha. It was co-organized by the Secretariat of the United Nations Committee on Global Geospatial Information Management, UN Statistics Division, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The Second High Level Forum was presided by Sheikh Hamad Bin Jabor Bin Jassim Al Thani, President of the Qatar Statistics Authority, State of Qatar.

The Forum was officially opened by the Prime Minister of Qatar, H.E. Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani who observed that the Forum came at a time when countries and regions are facing societal, environmental, economical and political challenges that impact national and global development and growth. H.E. observed that the use of information linked to location is instrumental in addressing these challenges.

Five sessions followed the opening session. The opening session included a video address by Mr Hongbo Wu (Under Secretary General for United Nations Economic and Social Affairs) and addresses by Sheikh Hamad Bin Jabor Bin Jassim Al Thani, Dr. Vanessa Lawrence (Co-Chair of the UN Committee of Experts on GGIM) and Prof William Cartwright (Chair of the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies) was the Ministerial Segment. The five sessions addressed “Building a National Geospatial Information System: Driving Forces, Success Stories”, “Future Trends in Geospatial Information: Growing the Information Base, Promoting Greater Use”, “Developing an Effective Global Geodetic Reference Framework and Supporting Location-based Services”, “Geospatial Information and Sustainable Development (Rio +20)” and “Challenges in Developing Core Global Reference Datasets”. The Forum issued the Doha Declaration: Advancing Global Geospatial Information Management.

The Forum:

  • affirm the importance of a stable, credible and reliable national geospatial information infrastructure and system in each country built on internationally recognized open standards that will federate or integrate, manage and deliver geospatial information for timely, evidence-based and authoritative decision making and policy formulation to address humanitarian and developmental needs and challenges;
  • resolve to work together as an international community, under the coordination of the United Nations, to improve a sustained operational global reference frame and infrastructure to support the increasing demand for positioning and monitoring applications with associated societal and economic benefits;
  • promote the greater use of geospatial information in sustainable development by supporting the activities under the programme of the Global Map for Sustainable Development (GM4SD) with an initial focus on natural disaster risk management to rapid urbanization and better mitigation strategies;
  • affirm the importance of an agreed set of authoritative core global reference datasets that are needed to support global economic and sustainable development activities including the preparation, improvement and maintenance of these core global reference datasets; and
  • collaborate and engage across disciplines and sectors including the geospatial industry, international organization and community on the value of place to facilitate and support informed decision-making.

The Forum was preceded by a one day Exchange Forum with the Geospatial Industry facilitated by United Nations Cartographic Section and JBGIS with the theme “Future Proofing the Provision of Geoinformation: Emerging Technologies”. The Exchange Forum focused on methodologies and technologies used to determine place, facilitate information capture, ensure accessibility and usefulness of place-based information. This was a pre-conference exchange that facilitated the continued involvement of the geospatial industry at the most senior levels, discussing and demonstrating the trends and directions the industry is heading.

The Exchange Forum concluded that future proofing the provision of place-based information that is critical to national, regional and international efforts and collaboration to address challenges faced by communities and nations such as food security, climate change, rapid urbanization and sustainable economic development, to name some, require an international mandate on a global reference frame, strategies to demonstrate societal and economic returns and benefits, intensify multi-disciplinary cooperation and promoting visualization and publishing of spatially enabled information to non-specialist users via mobile devices.

The Exchange Forum noted:

  • the advancement in positioning technologies and satellite constellations as well as the International Terrestrial Reference Frame that allow information collected locally be shared globally and the wider availability of precision positioning would require an international mandate to sustain a global reference frame;
  • the advances in number, types and capacities of platform and sensors, imageries are the main source of data and the basis for monitoring the physical environment and there remain needs for open standards as well as strategies to demonstrate the underlying societal and economic benefit of geospatial information as well as consideration to address privacy issues that are context driven;
  • that collaborating and communicating across disciplines using the value of place should facilitate informed decision-making leading to improve societies; that could be achieved by integrating authoritative and crowd-sourced information together with place-based analysis using the cloud platform; and
  • the convergence of architecture, languages and platforms that federate and integrate all types of information including three-dimensional information that promote visualization and publishing of information to non-specialist users via mobile devices support efficiencies in society, industry and government.

The Exchange Forum recognized:

  • that comprehensive place-based information underpin effective, citizen centric delivery systems, business processes, good governance and collaboration across jurisdictions and regions;
  • that investment in the collection, connection and communication of such data set is critical to national, regional and international efforts and collaboration to address challenges faced by communities and nations such as food security, climate change, rapid urbanization and sustainable economic development; and
  • that geospatial profession and industry are committed to continually exchange ideas and practices with the wider community to further the advancement of the Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) initiative.

Cognizance and consideration should be given to the statement made by H.E. Jean-Bertin Quedraogo, Minister of Infrastructure and Development, Burkina Faso at the Ministerial Segment of the High Level Forum that “specialists in the production and management of geographic information are poorly organized in my country as it is also the case in many African countries. People without basic knowledge on geo-information turn to be producers of topographic maps, which results in disrespect of production norms, the duplication of data, the lack of inter-operability of the data coming from diverse sources. The availability of high-level human resources to manage geographic information is therefore a major challenge”.

For additional information on UNGGIM, please refer to

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Members of the JBGIS present at the Forum took the opportunity to have an ad-hoc meeting on the sideline of the Forum.

CheeHai TEO
February 2013

18 March 2013