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Using improved maps and data to meet the Sustainable Development Goals

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GIS Conference

18 November 2016

Suva, Fiji – Experts from around the world will gather in Suva, Fiji, later this month to exchange innovation in the use of satellite data, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), open source software and other tools that assist decision-making in land use and disaster management.

Recent developments in technology and practices to improve maps and data that support sustainable development and economic growth will also be at the forefront of discussions at the upcoming 17th Pacific GIS/RS (Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing) User Conference, co-hosted by the Pacific Community (SPC), The University of the South Pacific (USP) and Fiji’s Ministry of Lands.

 

 

 

The largest of its kind in terms of Pacific Islands region participation, this week-long conference (28 November - 1 December) will bring together producers and users of geospatial data and information such as representatives from Pacific Island governments, international agencies, consulting companies and the private sector.

When the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed upon by 193 countries in September last year, the United Nations stressed the importance of increasing the availability of high quality, timely and reliable data  (e.g. population and health), disaggregated by geographic location.

Experts stated that geographic information about people and the planet is critical for better decision making and using resources more wisely as this will be an indispensable element in achieving the 17 global goals.

Geospatial, or geographic information shows where social, environmental and economic conditions occur.

It helps answer questions such as: where are people at risk of rising sea levels and climate change? How do we protect people living there? How many hectares of forests are there? Are we managing them sustainably? How do we manage natural resources in an effective and sustainable manner? How do we assess impacts of hazards and assist disaster planning, preparedness and response activities for Pacific Island Countries?

“The Pacific can greatly benefit especially from the collective wisdom of the scientific and technical practitioners in remote sensing and GIS technologies,” SPC Geoscience Division Director, Professor Micheal Petterson, said.

“This conference connects the Pacific region with the expertise and global development challenges and solutions of scientific organisations in larger regions.

“Linking the wider Pacific geospatial community with these international technical agencies demonstrates development and scientific leadership from the Pacific Community,” Prof Petterson added.

Financial contributions from satellite data and GIS/RS software vendors, regional and international partner agencies, USP and the Fiji Government, have allowed participation of Pacific Island nationals, stakeholders and partners at this conference.

“We are delighted to support the Pacific Islands GIS/RS community to improve the sustainability and resilience of our Pacific Island countries. I wish the conference great success,” The University of the South Pacific, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra said.

The Pacific GIS/RS User Conference has been held annually since 1999.

 

Media contacts:

Wolf Forstreuter, Geoscience Division, Pacific Community(SPC)                 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sachindra Singh, Geoscience Division, Pacific Community (SPC)                  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

John Lowry, School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment, USP      This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Useful link:

http://gisconference.gsd.spc.int/

Last Updated on Friday, 18 November 2016 15:26  

Newsflash

Monday 17 June 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) –  The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), with Geoscience Australia, has developed a computer model to help the Government of Tonga see what the impact of a tsunami would be on Tongatapu. Part of an AusAID funded project, the model makes use of high resolution data, the collection of which was made possible by Australia, the European Union, and the New Zealand Ocean Sciences Grant.

The new Tsunami Inundation Model shows that an 8.7 magnitude earthquake in the Tonga Trench would create a wave that would hit the eastern coast of Tongatapu within ten to twenty minutes, inundating most of Nuku’alofa.  Leveni ‘Aho, Director of Tonga’s National Disaster Management Office, says the new computer model has enabled the Government of Tonga to consider how the public would need to respond in a range of possible scenarios.

‘Nuku’alofa has, perhaps, the biggest urban population in the Pacific living in a very low-lying area. We can talk about Japan’s earthquakes but if we can present something that shows what is going to happen to us here at home, the message is much more effective.  For us, it’s an excellent opportunity to help communities to be aware of what could possibly come and what they will need to do if a significant event occurs,’ he says.

After the model was presented to the cabinet and the National Emergency Management Committee, the Hon. Prime Minister Lord Tuʻivakanō indicated that the government would need support to construct access ways to some parts of Nuku’alofa so that the local community can quickly get to safe areas.

Mr ‘Aho says the model is also helping the Government of Tonga to design emergency response measures and improve long-term urban planning for Nuku’alofa and its surrounding villages.‘The tsunami computer model given by SPC has provided the government with a wonderful tool to help us really understand the risks of different scenarios and to prepare in the best ways we can,’ he says.

Mosese Sikivou, Deputy Director of SPC’s Disaster Reduction Programme, says this project is part of SPC’s assistance to Tonga in connection with its Joint National Action Plan for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management, approved by Cabinet in July 2010. The work to develop the model is part of an integrated approach that SPC and other partners are taking right across the Pacific to try and maximise scarce resources and minimise duplication of effort and potential conflict in policy development.