Better together: Bridging Earth Observations and Geospatial Communities at the Americas Symposium 2020

Blog / Paloma Merodio Gómez / September 9, 2020

The Americas encompass an area of 42.5 million square kilometers. It is the second largest continent and extends from the tundra of Canada, Alaska and the island of Greenland, to the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago. Geographically, the Americas experience many types of climates since it´s located in both hemispheres. It contains approximately 13% of the world population with 1.018 billion inhabitants.

Currently, the region of the Americas faces several major changes occurring at great speed. The technological revolution and the development of modern digital communications are continually transforming societies all over the world. The changes in climate pose enormous and unprecedented global challenges for the sustainable development of countries. The region of the Americas attempts to face this new global reality by, fostering cooperation and the exchange of ideas among the countries. To do this, it requires support regarding the use of Earth observations, geospatial, statistical and other information. This is essential to fully understand the region’s environment and the problems that affect it, including the generation of planning strategies and evidence-based decision making.

Within geospatial communities, capacities must be increased in order to transition to a digital ecosystem and thus strengthen regional integration. Efforts in the region should be oriented towards cooperation and collaboration. In this sense, the America´s Symposium 2020 was jointly organized by AmeriGEO and UN-GGIM Americas to bring communities together to identify the synergies and paths toward collaboration among regional efforts related to the integration of geospatial information.

The Symposium hosted a week of events for UN and GEO Member States to work together to enhance integration, solidarity, and good practices that strengthen regional and global activity supporting sustainable development and impact. Along with international and regional organizations, private sector and academia, that have similar objectives and interests with AmeriGEO and UN-GGIM Americas, the week provided an opportunity to contribute to initiatives and projects that will advance the regional objective of Better together: Geospatial information for decision making in the Americas.

More than a decade ago, the United Nations (UN) recognized the importance of geospatial information, and established the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM). It was created by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a formal intergovernmental mechanism to discuss, improve and coordinate the availability and use of geospatial information at the global level, through the participation of the UN Member States. It is divided into five Regional Committees: Asia-Pacific, America, Africa, Arab States and Europe, which contribute with important regional perspectives at the global level and in turn, the results and benefits of global activities are disseminated to all Member States in each region.

In August 2013, the Regional Committee for the Americas (UN-GGIMAmericas) was created, replacing the Permanent Committee on Geospatial Data Infrastructure of the Americas (CP-IDEA). This significant action was carried out in accordance with the new mandate of the Regional Committee to improve cooperation and coordination with UN-GGIM. Currently, the Regional Committee of the Americas has 36 Member States.

The Committee determines the regional issues relevant to the management of geospatial information, and takes the necessary measures to maximize the economic, social and environmental benefits derived from its use. All this is based on present knowledge and the exchange of experiences and technologies by the Member States, which allows promoting the establishment of Geospatial Data Infrastructures in the Americas and other national initiatives, in addition to contributions to debates at UN-GGIM.

In November 2014, AmeriGEO was created by the regional GEO member countries to ensure that Earth Observations guided the environmental decisions. Since then and through activities in the AmeriGEO Priority Areas (Water, Disaster, Ecosystems, Disaster, and Health), the regional GEO has been engaging national and regional organizations with contributions in the areas of coordination, applied science, and perhaps the most important, with the implementation of National open data policies in many of the GEO country members.

The establishment of cooperation mechanisms are anchored with the Aguascalientes Declaration that will hopefully get endorsed this week by Member States to promote the integration of geospatial data and to formulate a comprehensive approach to solving national and regional challenges.


About the author

Paloma Merodio Gómez

Paloma Merodio Gómez is the Vice president of INEGI and President of, UN-GGIM: Americas. Paloma holds a Bachelor degree in Economics from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico ITAM and Master in Public Administration in International Development from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In April 2017, she was appointed Vice President of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography INEGI, coordinating the work of the National Subsystem of Geographic Information, Environment, and Urban Planning. In December 2017 she assumed the Presidency of the United Nations Regional Committee on Global Geospatial Information Management for the Americas (UN-GGIM). Previously, she worked at the Ministry of Social Development as General Director of Evaluation and Monitoring of Social Programs. Also, she worked at the Mexican Institute of Social Security as Coordinator of Strategic Research.


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