Guest post by Ordnance Survey’s John Kedar
In the past you may have read about or seen us tweet about @UNGGIM or read about the Cambridge Conference 2013, which was coupled with the Third Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM3). Ordnance Survey has a hard-earned reputation as one of the world’s leading National Mapping Authorities. This is reflected by the role Dr Vanessa Lawrence plays on the global stage, explaining and promoting geographic information. You can find out more about our work with the UN in this guest post from Ordnance Survey’s John Kedar.
The United Nations Initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management, or UN-GGIM as we more commonly refer to it, was established by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations in July 2011 in order to realise a vision that could help address making ‘accurate, reliable, maintained and authoritative geospatial information readily available, in all countries, to support national, regional and global development.’
In order to deliver the vision globally, Regional Committees are being set up to ensure that more localised progress is made, ensuring that the UN-GGIM Committee of Experts delivers its remit. UN-GGIM: Asia-Pacific and UN-GGIM: Americas are running and work is on-going in the Arab Countries and in Africa to form similar regional entities. Europe has never had a UN Regional Committee although one is being established with the co-chairs during formation being Walter Rademacher, Director General of Eurostat and Dr Vanessa Lawrence, Ordnance Survey’s Director General and Chief Executive.
This week, Vanessa was an invited keynote speaker at CIGMA 2013 in Mexico. This event is run by INEGI in Mexico and is the major pan-Americas geospatial conference, very much aligned to UN-GGIM business. INEGI’s President, Dr Eduardo Sojo, is the second Co-Chair of the UN-GGIM. Monday 7th October saw the launch of the Conference. It was opened by the UN-GGIM Co-chairs Dr Sojo and Vanessa, together with Mr Stefan Schweinfest, acting Director United Nations Statistics Division. Dr Sojo stressed the value of the UN-GGIM work and paid tribute to the world leading role of Vanessa. Mr Schweinfest reported the growth of the UN-GGIM in its short history and Vanessa discussed the United Nations Future Trends paper, which coincidently was released in Spanish to all conference delegates. This is the first of many translations of this important work, with Portuguese and Chinese likely to follow very shortly. The publication is available on the UN-GGIM website.
In the first keynote of the day, ESRI’s Jack Dangermond looked at how the technology industry is responding to these trends. But throughout its three days the conference has tackled a wider range of geographical and environmental issues with a particular emphasis on issues facing the Americas.
A common theme emerging throughout many presentations by leaders from across the region is the importance of UN-GGIM work in helping set national policy agendas. It was therefore befitting that the conference provided the backdrop to the first formal meeting of the two Co-chairs of the UN-GGIM since the re-election of Vanessa and the election of Dr Sojo; they spent an afternoon with the United Nations Secretariat team. This constructive meeting set the path for the delivery by Member States of the outcomes required by the third meeting of the UN-GGIM Committee of Experts that met in Cambridge in July this year immediately after the Cambridge Conference.
On Tuesday, Vanessa presented her second paper entitled “High Quality Geospatial information – an essential ingredient for all economies” This relates to the important role of geographic information to underpin national economic growth and attracted a full house of delegates anxious to understand the benefits of geospatial information, particularly at larger scales, to governments, society and the economy. Vanessa used examples from UK and around the world, including highlighting the role and outputs of Ordnance Survey during the 2012 Olympics.