Report of the Eighth United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for the Americas (UNRCCA)

27 June – 1 July, United Nations Headquarters, New York

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Vice President Stig Enemark and Prof. John Parker representing FIG at the UNRCC-A in New York.

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UNRCCA Session Chaired by Mario Reyes from Mexico as the Chair and John Parker as a rapporteur.

Vice-President Stig Enemark represented FIG at the Eighth United Nations Cartographic Conference for the Americas (UNRCCA) held in New York 27 June - 1 July. The conference is convened every four years (since 1976), the last one being held in January 2001. The conference attracted 140 participants from 33 countries. About 20 country reports were tabled and 40 invited papers were presented. The program and included a number of interesting paper on SDI developments in the Latin America and Caribbean Region as well as a number of invited paper papers from other countries and professional institutions. The program and proceedings of the conference are available at the UNSD website http://unstats.un.org/unsd/geoinfo/eighthunrccadocuments.htm.

Stig Enemark presented a FIG position paper on “Supporting Capacity Development for Sustainable Land Administration Infrastructures” (Invited Paper 12 in the proceedings). He also presented a joint paper with John Parker focusing on the outcome of the "Special Forum on the Development of Land Information Policies in the Americas” (IP 35). The FIG publication “Aguascalientes Statement” http://www.fig.net/pub/figpub/pub34/figpub34.htm was tabled and endorsed as a result of resolution adopted at the UNRCCA held in 2001. Both the papers and Statement were very well received.

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Santiago Borrero, Director of PAIGH.

As a further result of the Special Forum in Aguascalientes, Paul van der Molen, Chair of FIG Com 7, was invited to present a paper on the Land Administration Systems in Europe (IP 33). Another recommended presentation was by Santiago Borrero, the Director of the Pan America Institute for Geography and History (PAIGH) entitled “Regional and National Spatial Data Infrastructure in the Americas: institutional and capacity building issues” (IP 3). The approach of the Asia ad Pacific Region can be found in the paper of Peter Holland entitled “Making the SDI concept relevant to Asia-Pacific countries-the PCGIAP experience” (IP 14). Finally a very well received presentation was from Frederic de Dinechin, The World Bank, entitled “Spatial data economic issues in the Americas; the World Bank Approach” (IP 8).

The focus of these conferences is on the developments of National Spatial Data Infrastructures within the region. The participants are the regional national delegates normally representing the national mapping agency. However, being a UN organization, the participants are also from various countries in Europe and other regions in the world. Furthermore, a number of international experts are invited as well as representatives from the relevant NGO´s such as FIG, ICA, ISPRS, World Bank, FAO, etc. Unfortunately, the regional representation was not as dominating as hoped for.

The role of FIG in this regard is to promote professional development and facilitate achievements in the area of Topographic Mapping, Spatial Data Infrastructures, and Land Administration Systems. The conference provides a unique platform for discussion and understanding of the regional needs, and for networking with national agencies and other NGO´s. The objective of such networking is of course “to develop strategies for development of appropriate institutional, legal and technical processes to integrate land administration and topographic mapping programs within the context of a wider national strategy for spatial data infrastructure” (as stated in the Aguascalientes Statement).

The outcome of the conferences is summarized in the adopted resolutions. One of these is aiming to organize a follow-up conference to ensure proper implementation of the recommendations adopted at the Special forum in Aguascalientes. This conference will be held in Ottawa, Canada, June 2006.

Background on UNRCCA

The conference is organized and serviced by the United Nations Statistics Division http://unstats.un.org/unsd/default.htm. The aim is to promote the development and the use of geographical information systems in developing countries in this case the Latin American and Caribbean Region. A similar conference is convened every three year for the Asian and Pacific Region, the last one being held in July 2003 in Okinawa, Japan.

In addition, the Secretariat of the UN Statistics Division organizes ad hoc training courses, seminars, and expert group meetings, mostly in cooperation with host governments and international scientific and profession al organizations. Subjects include application of modern technology in surveying and mapping in developing countries, geographical information systems (GIS) for application in basic mapping and applied mapping such as mapping for statistics, population census, environmental protection, tourism, land use, and cadastral registration; legal aspects in map production; and toponymy.

A Permanent Committee on Spatial Data Infrastructures for the Americas (PC IDEA) is established to ensure continuity and development through implementation of the conference resolutions and through working group activities.

Stig Enemark
12 July 2005

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