Discovery Day 2016: “Spatial Data Infrastructure in support of good land governance”

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the European Commission Joint Research Centre and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe have jointly organised a Discovery Day 2016 event: Spatial Data Infrastructure in support of good land governance on November 28, 2016 in Rome, Italy. The purpose of the Discovery Day 2016 event was to raise awareness about the available technologies, data and services in support of the Global Agenda.

The world today faces many complex challenges, including the adaptation and mitigation of climate change; rapid urbanization; increased demand for natural resources; growing food, water and energy insecurity; increased natural disasters; and resolution of violent conflict. Vast number of migrants has made their way across the Mediterranean to Europe in 2015 and 2016, creating division in the European Union over how best to deal with resettling people. It becomes a political, economic and social issue.

At the end of 2015, 193 UN Member States negotiated the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Transforming our World at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York(17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets). Action on climate change is essential to meeting development aims. At the Paris summit last year, 196 countries negotiated new climate change agreement. Monitoring the progress at local, national, regional and global level will become obligatory for all UN Member States.

Making best use of available data and technology is a key for the success. What can we do with the increased availability and accuracy of satellite imagery and the wide spread use of mobile telephones. Why’s the use of common standards important? Open data, big data management, crowdsourcing, sharing information across borders become critical for surviving. Integrating earth observation geospatial information and statistical data is key for measuring the progress towards achieving the SDGs and minimising the effects of climate change.

Improved governance of land tenure is essential for achieving the Global Agenda. It is essential for food security, for poverty eradication, for contributing to a foundation for responsible investment and for environmental sustainability. It becomes even more important in the era of massive migration, climate change, natural disasters and increasing number of conflicts.

FAO invited a delegation from the Republic Geodetic Authority (RGA), consisting of high representatives: Director General, Mr. Borko Draskovic, Assistant Director with the Sector for Topography and Mapping, Ms. Jelena Matic Varenica, and Head of Section for National Spatial Data Infrastructure, Mr. Darko Vucetic, to pshare their experience and near future plans in using geospatial data and services. The first session: “Needs and Opportunities”: was dedicated to the Republic Geodetic Authority experience, their future plans and the opportunities for cooperation with various partners. The session was attended by the representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the UN Economic Commission for Europe; the European Commission Joint Research Center, Norwegian Mapping Authority, the United Kingdom satellite Applications Catapult, DigitalGlobe Company from USA, the global leader in provision of satellite data and systems and GMV company from Spain, working on the remote sensing applications.

Participants were impressed by the progress made by the RGA and by their commitment to work on innovative projects and share their experience with other institutions at national and regional levels.

Participants learned about the Republic Geodetic Authority activities related to the implementation of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, their experience in supporting other institutions to make best use of available data and services, the work on the capacity development as well as the plan to establish a Regional Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Management. The Center of Excellence would provide great opportunities to collect and share best practices, work on innovative solutions and would provide opportunity to the government, municipalities, the private sector, the academia and the citizens to take more informed decisions when and where needed. All representatives shared their experience and expressed readiness to support the RGA’s plans to establish the Center of Excellence.

The main session presented practical examples from Eastern Europe and Central Asia on how technology contributed to improve governance of tenure, the European Union Spatial Data Infrastructure; the Arctic Spatial Data Infrastructure (a cooperation between the National Mapping Agencies of Canada, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, USA and Denmark) Good practices from UK in support of government institutions to make best use of available geospatial applications; Digital Globe experience on Harnessing Big Data for geospatial governance and Google Geospatial Tools for good land governance.

More than 170 people attended the main session and about 150 people form five continents have been following the webcast: 91 form Europe, 35 form America, 12 from Asia, 8 from Africa and 1 from Oceania.

The recorded session is available for those who are interested to learn more.

The FAO team remains committed to further support the RGA efforts and specific steps have been agreed to provide know-how, work on joint innovative ideas and share experience and best practices.


Rumyana Tonchovska, Senior Land Administrating Officer – IT, UNFAO