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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 #10: Promoting Mapping for a Sustainable World at the UN World Data Forum

Dear ICA Colleagues,

The ICA is promoting the recent publication Mapping for a Sustainable World at the UN World Data Forum in Bern, Switzerland, the city of ICA’s origin in 1959. The hybrid event is hosting 700+ in-person registrants where representatives of governments, NGOs, companies, donors and philanthropic organizations and academic institutions and researchers are meeting to advance efforts toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the topics are varied, some common themes focus on leaving no one behind; understanding the world through data; and building trust in data and statistics. Discussions are both challenged and stimulated in responding to the questions “how far have we come?” Discussions continue on ideas and plans toward success.

Thomas Schulz and Tim Trainor at the UN World Data Forum

Thomas Schulz and Tim Trainor at the UN World Data Forum
promoting the publication Mapping for a Sustainable World

The ICA in producing the publication in collaboration with the UN, experienced several challenges in working with statistical and geospatial data associated with the SDGs. While these kinds of challenges are not foreign to cartographers, they worked through them in organized and logical ways so that users can benefit from the value offered through effective map design options.

For those of you still having to decide on if you should venture to Florence for the 30th ICC: Many at this Forum are from Africa and Asia, in addition to substantial attendees from Europe. Travel and health protocols are followed while allowing attendees to meet, share, discuss and enjoy the company of friends and colleagues.

I look forward to seeing you in Florence.

– Tim Trainor
President of the International Cartographic Association

Celebrating half a century for cartography – the Swiss Cartographic Society SSC

ICA President Tim Trainor and Secretary General Thomas Schulz recently attended the official celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Swiss Cartographic Society. On a beautiful and sunny autumn day, more than 100 guests from Switzerland and neighbouring countries came to Berne to celebrate together, amongst them honorary guests like former ICA President Georg Gartner and long-time SSC president and ICA Carl Mannerfeldt medal recipient Prof. Ernst Spiess. During the afternoon and evening event, right on the banks of the river Aare and in the heart of the Swiss capital, various presentations looked back to the rich history of the society as well as into today’s and future challenges of our discipline. A exhibition of current cartographic products, which was followed by the award ceremony for the 2019 PrixCarto – the bi-annual Swiss cartography award –, gave an insight into the rich production and high quality of maps in the country.

We congratulate our national member Switzerland on this special anniversary and on 50 years of membership with ICA!

Participants of the anniversary event

Participants of the anniversary event

ICA President Tim Trainor with SSC Honorary President Ernst Spiess

ICA President Tim Trainor with SSC Honorary President Ernst Spiess

View of the Swiss capital / Swiss parliament on a beautiful autumn day from the site of the anniversary event

View of the Swiss capital / Swiss parliament on a beautiful autumn day from the site of the anniversary event

Category: Member News

Invitation to the ICA Commission Meeting on Atlases and Education


The ICA Commissions on Atlases and on Education and Training are happy to announce and invite you to a joint meeting and workshop. Atlas cartography and educational cartography are undergoing a renewal process, due to technology-driven forces and altered user demands. The goal of this meeting is to present and talk about new ideas and concepts in both fields of atlas and education cartography.


The first day of the meeting will be dedicated to keynotes and state-of-the-art contributions. We are proud to announce Ferjan Ormeling (Prof. emer.) as invited speaker; he has sound knowledge in both atlases and educational cartography. During the second day, we plan to present and discuss future atlas and educational concepts.


“MDMD Mapping Fiction” — A Swiss cartomentary

“MDMD – Mapping Fiction” is an experimental short-film on cartography supported by the commission on Art & Cartography. The project is a mockumentary suggesting a secret research in the dark dungeons of ETH Zurich. One of Switzerlands most important cartographers, Prof Ed Imhof went out for an expedition into the Peruvian Andes, to measure some mountains. However, during his excursion an event unforeseen must have occurred and he started to question the role of cartography for the people…

To learn more about this amazing cartographic story, check out the project website at http://www.100-days.net/en/projekt/mdmd-mapping-fiction/project.

50th Birthday of the ICA

ICA Anniversary Logo

On 9 and 10 June 2009, the International Cartographic Association celebrated its 50th birthday at the site of its birth on 9 June 1959. The offices of swisstopo in Wabern, Switzerland, were the location for a special 50th birthday symposium, with guests from the founding nations of ICA, members nations who have hosted ICA conferences, current member nations, long-standing affiliate members, some Commission chairs, representatives of sister societies and of the Imhof family (Eduard Imhof was ICA’s first president), and office holders of the Swiss Cartographic Society which enabled the event. A full programme reflecting both the history and the future of ICA was presented over two days. The program and additional information can be found at the website of the 50th anniversary celebration (external link).

Eduard Imhof Exhibition

As part of the 50th birthday celebrations of ICA, a small exhibition on the work of Eduard Imhof, first president of ICA, was held. This exhibition was presented by ETH Zurich, where Imhof was Professor of Cartography for many years. The exhibition showed examples of his work in developing vibrant and effective approaches to landscape interpretation, geospatial data manipulation, cartographic design and map production.

Category: General News

Ernst Spiess is awarded the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal

Ernst Spiess

Ernst Spiess

Ernst Spiess, former head of the Institute of Cartography at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, was a student of Eduard Imhof. A chartered surveyor, he was a personal assistant to Professor Imhof, worked in the topography and photogrammetry section of the Swiss Federal Office of Topography in Berne and succeeded Professor Imhof on the faculty at ETH, where he remained until his retirement in 1996.

Ernst Spiess was the founding Chair of the ICA Commission on Cartographic Technologies and was awarded the ICA Honorary Fellowship in 1995.  He is an Honorary Member of the Swiss Society of Cartography which he served twice as president, as well as president of the organizing committee of the international congress of cartography in Interlaken in 1996.  He was also president of the Swiss Society of Photogrammetry.  He has represented Switzerland at UN Congresses on geographic names and was member of the German-Speaking Commission on Geographic Names.  He was a collaborator of the Schweizer Mittelschulatlas and has been and still is editor-in-chief of the new Schweizer Weltatlas, which was awarded the ICA prize in 1997.

In 1959 Ernst Spiess participated in a Swiss Expedition to the Panta Mountains in Peru, from which an outstanding topographic relief map–including a breathtaking cliff representation–resulted.  In 1974, he introduced at the Institute one of the first digital cartographic computer systems, which became a basic tool for advanced scientific work on map production, thematic cartography, and map projections.  The adaptation and extension of Bertin’s “Graphical Semiology” to modern thematic cartography is one of his most important contributions.  He has always regarded the application of theoretical work as equal in importance to theory, and he has been a highly effective communicator and teacher of both.

For an outstanding career in cartography that has included contributions in topographic mapping, atlas production, technological advancement, and as an effective teacher and researcher, the International Cartographic Association awards Professor Ernst Spiess its highest honor, the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal.

Category: General News

Honorary Fellowship for Ernst Spiess

The Executive Committee of the International Cartographic Association (ICA), by virtue of the power vested in it by the statutes and by-laws, hereby elects Ernst Spiess as an Honorary Fellow in recognition of his capacity in continuously developing Swiss cartography as a reference stan¬dard at international level with the help of a rapidly expanding cartographic technology, demonstrating it by producing various maps, atlases, papers and lessons, and taking a key role in the formation of an outstanding ICA commission on map production.

Category: General News