IRDR SC member Shuaib Lwasa at the Third High Level Forum on UN GGIM

The Third High Level Forum on UN Global Geospatial Information Management focusing on “Sustainable Development with Geospatial Information” last 22 – 24 October brought together member states and geospatial stakeholders with the unique opportunity to share and learn from each other, new ideas, methods and strategies to support local, regional and global sustainable development initiatives. Convened by the Secretariat of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), in collaboration with the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation of China (NASG), the forum was staged at the NASG China Headquarters in Beijing.

IRDR SC Dr. Shuaib Lwasa speaking as a panelist during the  Third High Level Forum on UN GGIM's Sustainable Development with Geospatial Information (Photo: Lwasa)
IRDR SC Dr. Shuaib Lwasa speaking as a panelist during the Third High Level Forum on UN GGIM’s Sustainable Development with Geospatial Information (Photo: Lwasa)

IRDR SC member Dr. Shuaib Lwasa from Makerere University in Uganda was one of the panelists in the sessions on climate change and disaster mitigation. Shuaib discussed on determining information needs in geospatial information for climate change and disaster mitigation and focused on the issues, lessons learnt and gaps. He also outlined ideas on how to address these gaps using vulnerability assessments, multi-level system for data capture, episodic monitoring of disasters and loss data peril and hazard classification and planning scenarios for disaster preparedness.

In October 2013, the 180 participants of the Chengdu Forum, with the theme ‘Development and Applications in Urban Hazard Mapping’, concluded that geospatial information has a vital role to play in all phases of hazard and disaster risk management and reduction, and it extends the ability for nations to not only map their geography and topography, but also those areas that are vulnerable to natural hazards, particularly in urban environments. Tackling climate change and disaster risk reduction requires a data driven and a geospatial approach – risk, hazard, exposure, vulnerability, communities, infrastructure at risk, etc.

“It is crucial to integrate climate change and disaster into planning and produce timely credible and easy-to-use information,” says Shuaib in his recommendations. Aside from this, he added that multiple scales at which geocoded socio-economic information is required, the use of mixed approach of grid-based and administrative boundary based information, the importance of prediction and scenarios as well as improvement of climate models. See Dr. Shuaib Lwasa’s presentation on Geospatial Information for Climate Change and Disaster Mitigation.

The Outcome Document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, released 19 July 2014 called for the need to “increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts” to support the monitoring of the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

While the SDGs will be negotiated at the political level, their means of implementation will rely heavily on the availability of human and physical geography data, much of it likely to be new data, to measure and monitor change and progress. A number of practical targets and indicators will eventually be required, and will need to be well defined (accurate, reliable and understandable), measurable over time, cost effective and clearly and easily communicated. As the SDGs evolve, there will be a need to create a network of global data and information that is supported by the best science, tools, and technology to analyze and model data, create maps and detect and monitor change over time in a consistent and standardized manner. Much of this will be geospatial information.