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Geospatial Data Vital to Achieving Sustainable Development Goals

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09.11.2015 - Geographic information about people and the planet is critical to making better decisions and using resources more wisely, and will be vital to achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals, according to UN-expert Tim Trainor.

Mr Trainor is one of three co-chairs of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM).

The importance of this method is not new. “The potential of geospatial data is huge, and is to a large extent directly linked to the sustainable development goals. This method provides a unique overview of areas and situations that otherwise would have been difficult, labour intensive, time consuming and expensive to get”, says Leknæs Andersen, Associate Professor at the Department of Geography at the University of Bergen.

Desertification and drought, for example, gives an estimated loss in agricultural production of 42 billion dollars every year, which leads to significant decrease of food security, hunger and poverty that can easily lead to social, economic and political unrest. This information is of great importance to point two (zero hunger) and fifteen (sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems) of the seventeen development goals. 

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Geospatial – or geographic – information shows where social, environmental and economic conditions occur. It helps answer questions such as: where are people at risk of rising sea levels? How do we protect the people living there? Where is disease occurring? How do we contain it? How many hectares are forests are there? Are we managing them sustainably?

The UN marks World Science Day for Peace and Development on 10 November. Science, including the use of Geospatial data analysis, will be essential to reach many of the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Efforts to increase the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data, disaggregated by geographic location will be critical, stresses Trainor.


UNRIC’s Related Links:

•   World Science Day for Peace and Development (Official Website)

•   UN-GGIM (Official Website)

•   Department of Geography, University of Bergen (Official Website)


Photo Credits:

•   Cover Photo: TheVRChris

•   Second Photo:  UN Photo/John Isaac

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