758 (XXVIII). The role of cartography, remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) in sustainable development

The Conference of Ministers,


            Recalling United Nations General Assembly resolution 44/46 of 9 December 1989, which approves the initiative taken by international scientific organizations to declare 1992 “International Space Year" (ISY) and recommends fostering international cooperation within the framework,


            Welcoming the actions taken by several African countries in commemoration of International Space Year that has, somehow, contributed to the development and strengthening of ties among users and African scientists in the field of satellite imagery,


            Mindful of the principles related to earth observation from space, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, and stipulating that these activities should be carried out for the benefit of all countries, in accordance with international law, respecting the sovereignty of all States, all people, regarding their own natural resources, and respecting the rights and interests of other States,


            Aware of the fact that planning for sustainable development requires updated information on natural resources which have to be necessarily integrated in national development programmes,


            Noting that cartography, remote sensing and geographic information systems are important working instruments for environmental development, monitoring and follow-up,


            Taking note of the efforts made by the international community in favour of African countries in the field of training, space techniques, remote sensing and geographic information systems,


            Reaffirming the interest to undertake jointly with space agencies and international organizations pilot projects when these converge with the involved countries' interests,


            Fully aware that new emerging technologies, such as remote sensing and geographic information systems, and that their utilization clearly modifies the comparative advantages among countries,


            Noting the emergence of new geodetic techniques, such as Global Positioning Systems, that could improve the quality of geodetic data over the African continent generated in previous projects such as the African Doppler Survey,


            1.         Encourages member States to:


            (a)        Enhance South-south cooperation in training, and in regional, bilateral and multilateral joint projects;


            (b)        Undertake studies in order to set up a database network on the regional and international levels;


            (c)        Contribute to the global change studies as requested in Agenda 21;


            (d)        Elaborate a compendium on remote sensing and geographic information systems capacities in Africa, mainly on existing training facilities;


            (e)        Participate in the project of establishing a common geodetic datum for Africa, using the Global Positioning System, that will result in uniform maps and cartographic data over the continent;


            (f)        Take cognizance of and implement relevant United Nations resolutions on the standardization of geographical names at national and international levels under the coordination and with the assistance of the Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names;


            (g)        Actively participate in the seventeenth session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical names to be held in Geneva in 1994 and in the seventh United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geophysical Names to be held in Iran in 1997;


            (h)        Identify a focal point that will coordinate all national activities relative to geographic databases and the establishment of geographic information systems;


            (i)         Take the initiative in sensitizing policy and decision makers on the importance of these new technologies through seminars, symposiums and workshops;


            2.         Urges industrialized countries and the international community to maintain and strengthen their efforts for a more efficient utilization of earth observation data, geographic information systems and cartography and for basic and continuous training for the education of African users ad scientists;


            3.         Requests countries advanced in space technology to:


            (a)        Facilitate access to satellite data, and in particular to make available stored data, which may bring about specific agreements in favour of developing countries:


            (b)        Extend their data acquisition network to improve coverage of the African countries;


            4.         Requests the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa to:


            (a)        Promote the role and usefulness of the Commission in the fields of cartography, remote sensing and geographic information systems that are of such a crucial importance, in order to take into account the emerging needs of African countries;


            (b)        Intensify efforts, in collaboration with the Regional Remote Sensing Centre, Ouagadougou, the Regional Centre for Services in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing, the Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys, the African Organization for Cartography and Remote sensing, the Centre for Remote Sensing, the Centre for Remote Sensing of North Africa and the Commission of Geodesy for Africa, for coordinating of the activities of United Nations bodies and those of the above-named institutions in the field of cartography, remote sensing and geographic information systems in favour of member States;


            (c)        Assist member States in their efforts to coordinate activities in the above fields, at regional and national levels;


            5.         Urges the Economic Commission for Africa, the International Hydrographic Bureau, the member countries ad the Regional Centre for Services in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing to pursue the actions that would lead to the establishment of hydrographic services for the Eastern and Southern African subregion, and to initiate the actions with a view of extending the services to the rest of Africa.


                                                                                                                                          285th meeting,

                                                                                                                                             4 May 1993.