>> Background Note
In March 2022, the 53rd Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC53) adopted The SDGs Geospatial Roadmap. In making their decision, the Statistical Commission recognizes and accepts geospatial and location-based information as official data for the SDGs and their global indicators. This report is available in English, French, and Spanish on the UN-GGIM website. The SDGs Geospatial Roadmap was developed by the Working Group on Geospatial Information of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on the Sustainable Development Goals Indicators (IAEG-SDGs). The Working Group’s membership includes national representatives of the IAEG-SDGs and UN-GGIM, the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management, and invited experts from the global geospatial information community.
The World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC) spoke to Paloma Merodio, Vice President and Member of the Board of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico (INEGI), who is also the Co-chair at UN-GGIM, who played a crucial role in publishing the Roadmap.
>> Interview with Ms. Paloma Merodio
Can you brief us on the value of the SDGs Geospatial Roadmap?
The SDGs Geospatial Roadmap was researched, written, and published by the Working Group. This group comprised several geospatial experts, and the main focus was on how to communicate this report to National Statistical Offices and their staff. Our primary aim was to assist these stakeholders in using geospatial information for monitoring and reporting the progress toward the UN SDGs and helping them achieve the 2030 Agenda.
The Working Group is led by the Statistical Office of Ireland and INEGI from Mexico, supported by statistical and geospatial experts. We were trying to understand how non-geospatial experts perceive the value of geospatial technologies and their challenges in using geospatial information to monitor and report SDGs. We worked with many geospatial experts and SDG custodians in developing the Roadmap and undertook many informal conversations with the National Statistical Offices from all regions.
How does the SDGs Geospatial Roadmap communicate the value of geospatial to non-experts, especially from the Statistics community?
When we knew we wanted to develop the SDGs Geospatial Roadmap, we had to create a not too technical messaging while demonstrating the maturity towards geospatial adoption for SDGs. And most importantly, we wanted this report to be easy to read and acceptable among non-geospatial experts. So, our ultimate aim was to communicate the value of geospatial and showcase it in the simplest possible way to relevant stakeholders working nationally, whether data institutions, Ministries, or Statistical Offices.
With the Roadmap, we wanted to be the bridge for the geospatial and statistical communities by presenting and reporting the use of geospatial information in a non-technical way. Hence, we looked at showcasing geospatial tools and resources that are out there that these non-geospatial stakeholders can assess, understand, and use for their organizations. To simplify these communications, we presented examples of different countries currently using geospatial information for reporting on SDGs so that the statistical community can easily find that connect with these use cases.
Your aim with the Roadmap is to create a living resource for the community on the SDGs. Can you explain a bit about this effort?
We then thought that bringing all this knowledge, use cases, and experiences into continuously updated resources could help our target communities. As I said earlier, simplifying the messaging around the value and process of using geospatial is our key aim. So, we want to communicate the message very clearly.
The SDGs Geospatial Roadmap portal is available for the stakeholders to access. So, the idea is to have the geospatial community can also contribute. Thus, we aim to link to other valuable resources and make it more like a living document that we continuously update with new examples, tools, and resources. One good example of this process is that we chose Esri’s StoryMaps platform to help present the report and the related resources and use cases provided to us by statistical and geospatial innovators.
Is there any formal way in which the geospatial industry can contribute?
Yes indeed. The Roadmap was constructed in a collaborative process where we interviewed and worked together with the entire community. So, we are open to expanding the collaboration to anyone that wants to participate.
Further, we invite organizations such as the World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC) and its Members to join us and contribute to this work.
Can you explain a bit about the various phases that have been prescribed in this report? Why was it essential for the non-geospatial experts to take this approach towards adopting geospatial technologies for monitoring the SDGs?
I reiterate here the importance of communicating with non-geospatial stakeholders. We wanted to simplify so that stakeholders can understand the nuances – related to governance, technology, and people. So, we decided to prescribe them a step-by-step process, to make it easy for them to adopt geospatial technologies in a phased manner. As part of this process, we have specified three key phases: First – Prepare and Plan, Second – Design, Development, and Testing, and Third – Producing, measuring, monitoring, and reporting geospatially enabled SDG indicators.
Each phase again has mand intermediary steps to achieve progress. Under each phase, we also prescribe the definitions and Key Actions to be taken and provide references to other UN-GGIM resources and reports and mainly use cases.
There is also a need to address the aspects of financing the geospatial technology adoption and skilling people. What are your plans regarding this?
I believe that first, it was imperative to communicate the value of geospatial and provide them a guide towards adopting geospatial information in measuring and monitoring the SDGs. Once we are successful in this, there will be a growing awareness of the value of geospatial technologies and how they should approach geospatial adoption and implementation of specific projects. Then it becomes easier for us to look at particular needs related to financing these projects, build collaboration mechanisms, and then address those needs. So, with the SDGs Geospatial Roadmap, we aim to first achieve that first success in helping National Governments and Statistical Offices think geospatially and adopt the Roadmap.