skip to main content
Geospatial Information for Sustainable Development
The Future We Want in paragraph 274 recognizes "the importance of space-technology-based data, in situ monitoring, and reliable geospatial information for sustainable development policy-making, programming and project operations. In this context, we note the relevance of global mapping and recognize the efforts in developing global environmental observing systems, including by the Eye on Earth network and through the Global Earth Observation System of Systems. We recognize the need to support developing countries in their efforts to collect environmental data."

The Future We Want in paragraph 187 also recognizes "the importance of comprehensive hazard and risk assessments, and knowledge and information sharing, including reliable geospatial information. We commit to undertake and strengthen in a timely manner risk assessment and disaster risk reduction instruments."

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through paragraph 76 supports "developing countries, particularly African countries, least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in strengthening the capacity of national statistical offices and data systems to ensure access to high-quality, timely, reliable and disaggregated data. We will promote transparent and accountable scaling-up of appropriate public-private cooperation to exploit the contribution to be made by a wide range of data, including earth observation and geospatial information, while ensuring national ownership in supporting and tracking progress."


(1) Geographical Information System (GIS)
Geographical Information System (GIS) or Geospatial Information System is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data. The acronym GIS is sometimes used for Geographic Information Science (GIScience) to refer to the academic discipline that studies geographic information systems and is a large domain within the broader academic discipline of Geo-informatics. What goes beyond a GIS is a spatial data infrastructure, a concept that has no such restrictive boundaries.

(2) Remote Sensing (RS)
Remote Sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object and thus in contrast to on site observation. Remote Sensing is a sub-field of geography. In modern usage, the term generally refers to the use of aerial sensor technologies to detect and classify objects on Earth (both on the surface, and in the atmosphere and oceans) by means of propagated signals (e.g. electromagnetic radiation). It may be split into active remote sensing (when a signal is first emitted from aircraft or satellites) or passive (e.g. sunlight) when information is merely recorded.

(3) Global Position System (GPS)
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. The system provides critical capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.

(4) Spatial Analysis
Spatial analysis includes any of the formal techniques which study entities using their topological, geometric, or geographic properties. Spatial analysis includes a variety of techniques, many still in their early development, using different analytic approaches and applied in fields as diverse as astronomy, with its studies of the placement of galaxies in the cosmos, to chip fabrication engineering, with its use of "place and route" algorithms to build complex wiring structures. In a more restricted sense, spatial analysis is the technique applied to structures at the human scale, most notably in the analysis of geographic data.

(5) Geographic Coordinate System
A Geographic Coordinate System is a coordinate system that enables every location on the Earth to be specified by a set of numbers or letters, or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents vertical position, and two or three of the numbers represent horizontal position. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation.

(6) Digital elevation model (DEM)
A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) is a digital model or 3D representation of a terrain's surface commonly for a planet (including Earth), moon, or asteroid created from terrain elevation data.

(7) Digital Line Graph (DLG)
A Digital Line Graph (DLG) is a cartographic map feature represented in digital vector form that is distributed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). DLGs are collected from USGS maps and are distributed in large-, intermediate- and small-scale with up to nine different categories of features, depending on the scale. They come in optional and Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS) format and are topologically structured for use in mapping and Geographic Information System (GIS) applications.


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. It provides a forum to liaise and coordinate among Member States, and between Member States and international organizations.

Details for UN-GGIM: