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Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic Association
Get to know the new ICA Executive Committee for the term 2023-2027
Get to know the ICA Commissions for the term 2023-2027

President’s Blog: The role of the United Nations for ICA and vice versa

Some weeks before the United Nations calls for the Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, 7-9 August 2024, UNHQ, New York, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the mutual connections, cooperation and contributions between UN entities and ICA.

Several entities and institutions of the UN are related to the aims and scope of ICA, this is why we take a great interest and pro-active view on cooperation and mutual interests. Derived from the general need of an international meta organization like the UN for spatial information in reliable manner has become more and more relevant. The saying “everything happens somewhere” can be applied to every global issue or crisis. The need to become aware about “what is happening somewhere”, to get tailored information, to underpin decisions asks very often for maps, cartography and GIScience.

It is therefore not a surprise, that ICA is taking a strong interest in related UN Activities, as the respective UN entities benefit from ICA involvement. The eventually most visible example of this involvement was the joined book publication “Mapping for a sustainable world” of UN and ICA.

Let me introduce some of the main UN bodies, we are cooperating with:

United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM)

Logo of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information ManagementThis is an entity to promote international cooperation in the field of global geospatial information, for consulting governments in the context of making joint decisions and setting directions with regard to the production, availability, and application of geospatial information within national, regional, and global policy frameworks. All member states of the UN can participate, but also “Thematic Networks” are represented, including geospatial societies, academic network, private sector network and the UN Geospatial Network.
ICA is actively participating in UN-GGIM since its inauguration by

  • Participating at the UN-GGIM yearly sessions
  • Participating in some of the so called “High Level Forums of UN-GGIM
  • Taking a strong interest in main outcomes and results of UN-GGIM work, such as the Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (IGIF) or the UN Centres of Excellence

Several ICA-related scholars are actively working with UN-GGIM. I would like to highlight especially the ongoing role of Past President Timothy Trainor, which has and is substantially involved in steering the UN-GGIM agenda in several consultative ways

Academic Network of UN-GGIM

 This is a network of universities and scholars trying to contribute to the agenda of UN-GGIM for an academic perspective, focusing on the role of research and education. ICA is traditionally well presented in the Academic Network, former President Menno-Jan Kraak was a board member, current president Georg Gartner is currently Board Member.

UN-GGIM Geospatial Societies

The UN-GGIM Geospatial Societies is a coalition of the Presidents, Secretaries-General or equivalent office bearers or their nominees that lead recognized international organizations involved in the coordination, development, management, standardization or regulation of geospatial information and related matters, trying to support the agenda of UN-GGIM.

ICA is highly involved in work of this entity, I would like to highlight especially the instrumental role of former president William Cartwright in forming and establishing this group.

Former President Menno-Jan Kraak in a meeting representing ICA at the UN-GGIM Geospatial Societies, New York August 2023 at the 11th UN-GGIM meeting

Former President Menno-Jan Kraak in a meeting representing ICA at the UN-GGIM Geospatial Societies, New York August 2023 at the 11th UN-GGIM meeting

Office of Outer Space Affairs, United Nations (OOSA)

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed March 2005 in Vienna by Milan Konecny (ICA President) and Sergio Camacho-Lara (UNOOSA Executive Director) is in place. This has led to mutual contacts e.g presentations and internships for students.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

ICA is an official partner of UNESCO as recognized Non-governmental organization (NGO) and as such fully included in the communication of UNESCO activities and policies as entitled to participate in UNESCO activities.

United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN)

The objectives of this entity are

  • encourage national and international geographical names standardization;
  • promote the international dissemination of nationally standardized geographical names information; and
  • adopt single romanization systems for the conversion of each non-Roman writing system to the Roman alphabet.

ICA was and is always prominently participating in the work of UNGEGN, I would like to explicitly mention her the significant input of the former secretary-general Ferjan Ormeling or the former Commission Chair Peter Jordan. Currently Matjaž Geršič is the chair from the ICA side of the Joint ICA/IGU Commission on Toponymy, a joint venture of ICA and IGU committed to fostering cartographic and geographical research in toponymy supplementary to UNGEGN.

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