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.
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;
PaperSmart Portal: https://papersmart.unmeetings.org/ecosoc/ungegn/1st-session/programme/
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
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.95, Submitted by Viet Nam
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.97, Submitted by Estonia
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.100, Submitted by the State of Palestine
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.101, Submitted by Sri Lanka
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.108, Submitted by Mozambique
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.110, Submitted by Lithuania
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.116, Submitted by Australia
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.117, Submitted by Republic of Korea
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.121, Submitted by Romania
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.129, Submitted by Cameroun
- GEGN.2/2019/CRP.132, Submitted by Indonesia
- 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
Agenda item 6 (a) - Cooperation and liaison with other organizations: International organizations
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
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)
Agenda item 9 - Issues of publicity for the Group of Experts and funding of Group projects (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)
Agenda item 12 - Toponymic terminology (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)
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)
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
Click on the links below to access the webcast recordings of the 1st Session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names:
Access the approved document here
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