Surveyors and geospatial experts from 12 Pacific Island countries convened today at the 2nd Pacific Geospatial and Surveyors Council meeting to draft a strategy for developing the region’s geospatial infrastructure and capacity.

First established in 2014, the Pacific Geospatial and Surveying Council (PGSC) is composed of representatives from Lands and Survey Departments, Hydrography Units, and geospatial management sections throughout the region. The meeting is supported and facilitated by the Government of Australia and the Pacific Community’s (SPC) PGSC Partnership Desk.

“Accurate geospatial information provides a critical foundation for sustainable economic development,” said Interim PGSC Chair and Director of Tuvalu Lands & Survey Department, Faatasi Malologa.

“We need to get our governments on board and to inform them of the many benefits of investing in geodetic infrastructure,” he added.

The Director of the SPC Geoscience Division, Professor Michael Petterson, could not agree more.

“Geospatial information underpins most of the economic activities in the world today and it is an important capacity for the Pacific to develop,” he said.

“It has so many applications – land use planning, climate change adaptation, shipping and transport, population and demographic analysis, marine spatial planning – just to name a few.”

It may sound highly technical, but if you have ever used a map, you are a user of geospatial information. With the rise of satellite technology such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), geospatial information has become an increasingly powerful tool, as it can be accessed in near-real time and is accessible to most of us through our mobile phones.

Throughout the week, PGSC members have participated in and presented at the Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing (GIS/RS) User Conference, held at the University of the South Pacific (USP).

This annual meeting, jointly organised by Fiji Lands Department, USP, and the SPC Geoscience Division has provided an important forum for discussions about development of the region’s technological capacity.

In the margins of the 2014 GIS/RS User Conference, the PGSC members first convened and developed a charter to guide their work. To date, this charter has been formally endorsed by 11 Pacific Island governments.

“This council has tremendous potential to positively influence the development of geospatial capacity in the Pacific region,” said Dr John Dawson of Geoscience Australia.

“Australia hopes to continue to provide advice and support in implementing the PGSC strategy.”

The PGSC is currently supported by the Australian Government’s Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific and the SPC Geoscience Division’s PGSC Partnership Desk.

Media contact: Molly Powers-Tora    Climate and Oceans Regional Officer, mollyp@spc.int or +679 3249250