Standardization of Geographical Names Matters

The 2019 Session of the "new" United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) was convened from 29 April to 3 May 2019 at the UNHQ, conference room 2, in New York. The session, organized by the United Nations Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, brought together 264 participants representing 70 Member States, one observer (Palestine), and two inter-governmental organizations; International Cartographic Association, and International Geographic Association. They discussed and deliberated on strategies, methodologies and best practices by which the standardization of geographical names throughout the world can be advanced for the benefit of all citizens, governments and non-governmental organizations.


The Session aimed to increase awareness of geographical names standardization, share the benefits that names provide to the daily functions in national economies and highlight its role as an enabler in preserving cultural heritage. Delegates were empowered to strengthen their efforts to collect, manage and disseminate geographical names and forge partnerships and alliances to advance geographical names standardization.

New Group of Experts

The Group of Experts has had a robust work programme spanning over 50 years, 30 sessions and 11 conferences and many significant milestones. In November 2017 as per ECOSOC resolution 2018/2, the group was dismantled and recreated with the same name and new working methods. The 2019 session heralded the first session of the new body, with a new agenda and 123 papers for information and discussion. The following topics were discussed:- toponymic training, place names supporting sustainable development, toponymic data files and gazetteers, romanization systems, exonyms, geographical names as cultural heritage, and toponymic guidelines for map and other editors for international use. In keeping with its new status, a new UNGEGN website was launched and a prototype of the world geographical names database web GIS application showcased.

Other Activities

The week's activities included special guest presentations on the "UNGEGN, ECOSOC and 2030 Agenda", "Second Administrative Level Boundaries", "Indigenous Issues and Cultural Heritage" and "Experiencing Discrepancies in 'Reputable Data' in the Disaster Management Cycle". Also occurring during the week were side events featuring working group and divisional meetings, an orientation session for new attendees and special workshops on "Linked Data Developments" and "The Unanswered Questions Relation to Indigenous Toponymy".

The Session ended with the adoption of the draft session report consisting of six recommendations on items such as preserving unwritten languages, increased focus on collaboration between UNECA and UNGEGN's Task Team for Africa, and the Group's decision to create a strategic plan and establish a robust funding mechanism for sponsorship and group projects, and 15 decisions. The next UNGEGN meeting is scheduled for 3 to 7 May 2021.

The documents and country statements of the 1st Session of UNGEGN are available from the links below;


  • Report of UNGEGN on its 2019 Session

  • Documentation for the Session

  • GEGN.2/2019/INF/2 (not issued)

  • List of working groups and task teams
    • GEGN.2/2019/INF/3, Submitted by UNGEGN Secretariat

  • List of participants
    • GEGN.2/2019/INF/4, Submitted by UNGEGN Secretariat

  • List of Documents
    • GEGN.2/2019/INF/5/Rev.2, Submitted by UNGEGN Secretariat

List of documents by agenda item
(click on agenda item in left column)

* Please be informed that the technical reports submitted by regional entities and member states are not reviewed or edited by the Secretariat. These reports facilitate the technical discussion of the subject matters on the agenda and help clarify technical issues. The contents of the reports does not reflect the position of the United Nations Secretariat.

The designations employed and the presentation of material does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, city or area, or of its authorities, concerning the appellation of places, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Agenda item 3 - Organizational matters

Agenda item 4 - Reports of the Chair and the Secretariat

Agenda item 5 (a) - Governments on the situation in their countries and on the progress made in the standardization of geographical names

  • Report of Brazil

  • Report of Madagascar

  • Report of Canada

  • Report of Norway

  • Report of the Netherlands

  • Report of Latvia

  • Report of Brunei Darussalam

  • Report of Slovak Republic

  • Country Report - The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.95, Submitted by Viet Nam

  • Report of Saudi Arabia

  • Report of Estonia
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.97, Submitted by Estonia

  • Report of the State of Palestine
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.100, Submitted by the State of Palestine

  • Report of Sri Lanka
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.101, Submitted by Sri Lanka

  • Report of Mozambique
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.108, Submitted by Mozambique

  • Report of Lithuania
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.110, Submitted by Lithuania

  • Country Report from Australia
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.116, Submitted by Australia

  • Report of the Republic of Korea
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.117, Submitted by Republic of Korea

  • Report of Romania
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.121, Submitted by Romania

  • Report of the Russian Federation
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.123, Submitted by Russian Federation
      English | Russian

  • Rapport National - Cameroun
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.129, Submitted by Cameroun

  • Country Report of The Republic of Indonesia
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.132, Submitted by Indonesia
  • Geographical Names Activities in Tunisia 2017-2019
    • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.134, Submitted by Tunisia

  • Agenda item 5(b) - Report: Divisions of the Group of Experts

    Agenda item 5 (c) - Report of the Working Group on Country Names

    Agenda item 5 (d) - National and international meetings and conferences

    • International Seminar on Sea Names, 2017-2018
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.118, Submitted by Republic of Korea

    Agenda item 6 (a) - Cooperation and liaison with other organizations: International organizations

    • Report of the Liaison Officer, International Council of Onomastic Sciences (ICOS)

    • Report of the Joint ICA/IGU Commission on Toponymy

    • Report by the International Hydrographic Organzation
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.103, Submitted by the Liaison Officer, IHO

    Agenda item 6(b) - Cooperation and liaison with other organizations: Economic Commission for Africa and Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management

    Agenda item 7(a) - National and international standardization of geographical names: Names collection, office treatment, national authorities, features beyond a single sovereignty and international cooperation

    • National standardization of geographical names: what has been done so far and suggestions on how the UNGEGN could facilitate further progress

    • Commemorative Naming in Canada

    • Le Canada, un pays bilingue, dont le bilinguisme se reflète dans sa toponymie

    • Project on the national standardization of geographical names in Norway

    • Report of Mongolia

    • Changing The Name of Maluku Tenggara Barat Regency to Kepulauan Tanimbar Regency, Maluku Province, Indonesia

    • The Toponym of Cultural Heritage and Tourism in Yogyakarta Province

    • Urgency of drafting the government regulation on guidelines for assigning and changing geographical names

    • Undersea geographical names in the waters of Indonesia

    • Place Names and the Administrative Reform in Estonia
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.98, Submitted by Estonia

    • Kramnitse or Kramnitze
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.112, Submitted by Denmark

    • China has Completed the Second National Survey of Geogrpahical Names

    • Reorganization of Marine Geographical Names and Outreach Activities, 2017-2018
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.119, Submitted by Republic of Korea

    • Publication of the Guidelines for the Standardization of Geographical Names, Third Edition
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.120, Submitted by Republic of Korea

    • Naming rules for places in Victoria - 2016 Statutory requirements for naming roads, features and localities in Victoria
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.126, Submitted by Australia

    • A Way Forward for the Agenda Item Features beyond a single sovereignty
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.130, Submitted by Republic of Korea

    Agenda item 7 (b) - National and international standardization of geographical names: Toponymic guidelines for map and other editors for international use

    Agenda item 8 - Social and economic benefits, supporting sustainable development, measures taken and proposed for the implementation of resolutions and evaluation of the work of the Group of Experts (Working Group on Evaluation and Implementation)

    • Report on the implementation by New Zealand of resolutions adopted at the United Nations Conferences on the Standardization of Geographical Names

    • Arabic version of resolutions adopted at the eleven United Nations Conferences on Geographical Names

    • Report of the Working Group on Evaluation and Implementation

    • Street naming as effort to narrow gaps between local authorities in the State of Israel

    • Alignment of the work of UNGEGN with the decisions and resolutions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council

    • Opportunities of geographical names data files and gazetteers to support the 2030 Agenda

    Agenda item 9 - Issues of publicity for the Group of Experts and funding of Group projects (Working Group on Publicity and Funding)

    • Celebrating Geographical Names Day in Canada

    • Report of the Working Group on Publicity and Funding
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.109, Submitted by the Working Group on Publicity and Funding

    Agenda item 10 - Activities on national standardization in Africa (Task Team for Africa)

    Agenda item 11 - Toponymic education (Working Group on Training Courses in Toponymy)

    • Report of the Convenor of the Working Group on Training Courses in Toponymy 2017-2019
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.107/Rev.1, Submitted by the Working Group on Training Courses in Toponymy

    Agenda item 12 - Toponymic terminology (Working Group on Toponymic Terminology)

    • Actualisation du Glossaire de termes pour la normalisation des noms géographiques

    • Report of the Working Group on Toponymic Terminology 2017-2019
      • GEGN.2/2019/102, Submitted by the Working Group on Toponymic Terminology

    Agenda item 13 - Geographical names as culture, heritage and identity, including indigenous, minority and regional languages and multilingual issues (Working Group on Geographical Names as Cultural Heritage)

    • Significance of place names in the distribution of wildlife species and their benefits in the reintroduction process

    • Report of New Zealand on the project to combine Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu's Cultural Heritage Atlas, Ka Huru Manu, with the New Zealand Geographic Board gazetteer

    • Report of New Zealand on effective engagement with indigenous groups

    • Problématique des toponymes issus de langues non ecrites

    • Geographical Names As Socio-Cultural Objects And Their Organization

    • Registration of the field names of the Tyrol in the National Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Austria

    • International Policy Scan of Indigenous and Minority Language Geographical Names

    • Report of the Working Group on Geographical Names as Cultural Heritage

    • Necessity Of Creating A Working Group Or Sub-Working Group On Non-Written Language Transcription Systems
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.94, Submitted by Task Team for Africa

    • Web Dictionary of Estonian Place Names
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.99, Submitted by Estonia

    • Promoting the use of Aboriginal language

    Agenda item 14 - Exonyms (Working Group on Exonyms)

    Agenda item 15 - Toponymic data files and gazetteers (data processing and tools, database management, data dissemination: products and services) (Working Group on Toponymic Data Files and Gazetteers)

    • Report of the Working Group on Toponymic Data Files and Gazetteers

    • Maintaining and publishing the geographical names database within the German spatial data infrastructure

    • Status report on gazetteer developments under European location services

    • Experiment in romanization of the web map using geographical name information in vector tile data

    • Development of the National Geographical Names Database of the Islamic Republic of Iran and provision of a system for receiving feedback from users and refining information

    • Report of New Zealand - on the evolution of the New Zealand gazetteer

    • Benefits of persistent unique identifiers of named places and place names

    • National Database for Geographical Names of China

    • VICNAMES - Register of Geographic Names - Our Victorian repository of place names, and cultural place name history
      • GEGN.2/2019/CRP.125, Submitted by Australia

    • Rationalisation et normalisation des codes de statuts des toponymes

    Agenda item 16 - Writing systems and pronunciation (Working Group on Romanization Systems)

    Agenda item 17 - Other toponymic issues

    no document submitted

    Agenda item 18 - Arrangements for the 2021 session of the Group of Experts

    Agenda item 20 - Presentation and adoption of decisions

    Agenda item 21 - Adoption of the report on the 2019 session

    Other Documents

  • Note Verbale English | French | Spanish (reissued for technical reasons)
  • New York resource guide PDF
  • New Comers Orientation PDF

  • Side event
    • Detailed Side event calendar
      • html (updated as of 25 April 2019)
    Opening Remarks
    • H.E. Ms. Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General Policy Coordination, and Inter-Agency Affairs
    • H.E. Ms. Kira Christianne Danganan Azucena, VP ECOSOC
    Special presentations
    • Tuesday, 30 April 2019
      • The 2030 Agenda, ECOSOC and the HLPF, Ms. Marion Barthelemy
    • Wednesday, 1 May 2019
      • Second Administrative Level Boundaries Programme, Mr. Guillaume Le Sourd
    • Thursday, 2 May 2019
      • UNPFII, Mr. Valerin Poiga Miitre Harakka
    • Friday, 3 May 2019
      • Experiencing discrepancies in "reputable data" in the disaster management cycle, Ms. Miriam Nielsen and Mr. Andrew Kruczkiewicz

    Webcast recordings

    Click on the links below to access the webcast recordings of the 1st Session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names:

         Read More News