News in 2019

8th Plenary Meeting of UN-GGIM-AP - Asia Pacific Capacity Development Network Report

3-5 November 2019, Canberra, Australia

UN GGIM AP Plenary Meeting

The FIG Asia Pacific Capcity Development Network (AP CDN) were invited by the President of the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management for Asia and the Pacific (UN GGIM AP), to participate in its 8th Plenary Meeting held in Canberra – Australia on 3-5 November 2019.  This Plenary Meeting was the first meeting convened under the Presidency of Australia, and was organised by the agency Geoscience Australia and also the secretariat, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), who are presently based in Bangkok, Thailand.

The three-day Plenary Meeting of UN-GGIM-AP was an opportunity for FIG AP CDN to contribute to the latest discussions pertaining to geospatial information and UN initiatives such as the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF), Global Geodetic Reference Frame (GGRF), Framework for Effective Land Administration (FELA), and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.  Majority of the open and formal discussions occurred during the first day in the 3 parallel sessions organised by each of the UN-GGIM-AP working groups to evaluate their work program and work shop pertinent issues.  The 3 working groups are - Geodetic Reference Frame, Cadastre and Land Management, and Integrating Geospatial Information and Statistics.  Overall there were almost 100 delegates in attendance at the Plenary Meeting and workshops; and over 50 reports and presentations were delivered to the attendees.  Note the Plenary Meeting was held prior to the GEO (Group on Earth Observation) Week 2019, which attracted almost 1200 registrants.  GEO website -

FIG AP CDN provided presentations over the 3 day event.  Two of the presentations were related to the Geodetic Reference Frame working group and they were -

The final presentation was at the GEO side event “Geodesy 4 Sendai”, and was titled the Role of Surveyors for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience.

Note - copies of the FIG AP CDN presentations are available upon request and / or can be sourced from the UN GGIM AP 8th Plenary Meeting website.

As per previous UN GGIM AP meetings, members of each UN GGIM AP work group reviewed the main issues or points arising from sessions or discussions, and subsequently developed resolutions for consideration by the attendees of the Plenary Meeting.  UN GGIM AP Working Group 1 - Geodetic Reference Frame, with assistance from FIG AP CDN, and representatives from the United Nations Sub-Committee on Geodesy Education Training and Capcity Building (UN SCoG ETCB) formed statements involving geodetic datum and reference frame matters, such as recognising the -

In light of the above, the following were recommended, to the Plenary Meeting attendees for adoption –

UN GGIM AP Members -

For the resolutions adopted by the other working groups (i.e. Land Management), and also the official summary of the Plenary Meeting please refer to UN GGIM AP website -

With respect to the “Geodesy 4 Sendai” meeting, it is apparent the Disaster Resilience section of the GEO (Group on Earth Observation) organisation is forming a group of various geospatial information professionals, scientists and interested stakeholders or community groups to collaboratively address the better operations of early warning systems, reducing disaster risk and building resilience to disasters. From a broader perspective it appears GEO is seeking assistance from FIG (and other related agencies such as UN-GGIM-AP) to address the four priority actions of the Sendai Framework Disaster Risk Reduction, which are –

During the presentation and meeting it was emphasised that the Sendai action agenda was very recognisable to FIG and its Commissions, as they had dealt which such matters through various task forces, publications and work plans.

Another interesting initiative conveyed at the Plenary Meeting was the presentation on the creation of a Global Geodetic Centre of Excellence (GGCoE) under the auspices of the UN.  The presentation on this initiative was delivered by Mr Nicholas Brown, who is now the Co- Chair of the UN SCoG as Mr Gary Johnston has retired.  Mr Brown stated that the Member States of UN Committee of Experts on GGIM had “commended” the proposal at their August 2019 meeting, and that they were now seeking views (through the UN SCoG) on how the GGCoE may operate; what their work program might comprise of; structure and composition of governance and institutional arrangements; and the role / responsibilities of the GGCoE, donor (resourcing) agencies and stakeholders. 

The UN SCoG have also recognised the importance of collaboration to establish GGCoE, with both the scientific sector (i.e International Association of Geodesy – IAG) and professional surveying or operational organisations, such as the FIG and the survey mapping agencies of UN Member States.   From an FIG AP CDN and Commission 5 perspective, although attempts to build geodetic and geospatial information capability have been somewhat successful, the current framework and mechanisms to support capacity development in geodesy or geospatial information management are not sustainable. Looking at a broader assessment and into the future, for FIG to deliver or assist with professional development at the individual, organisational and regional / global level, the development of GGCoE may be one of the strategic pathways to consider.  

Presently, the next meeting on this subject is scheduled for the UN-GGIM High Level Forum in Windsor - Unted Kingdom, April 2020, where discussions on the development and implementations on the role, work program and governance of a GGCoE will take place.  Consequently, it is suggested that the FIG President and / or Council member(s) have an opportunity to comment on the GGCoE initiative, either prior to this meeting or possibly at the meeting, then they should consider expressing the following to the UN SCoG for their consideration –

In concluding, please note the upcoming events for both FIG AP CDN and Commission members to consider participating in and attending -

If you are interested in the upcoming events and require more information please contact Rob Sarib –  or navigate to the relevant website.

Positioning and Datum Modernisation Forum

"L to R – Ms Allison Craddock, Mr Rob Sarib, Mr Basara Miyahara



Rob Sarib, Chair FIG AP CDN
November 2019

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