Submitted by leannem on Fri, 05/20/2022 - 12:30
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May 20, 2022 by leannem
Environmental Monitoring and Governance

18 May 2022, Apia – A new online course which will assist countries in strengthening their capacities on the basic functions and components of Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) has been launched in response to a growing demand and interest for GIS training. 

The GIS e-learning course was developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme’s (SPREP) Environmental Monitoring and Governance programme through the GEF-UNEP funded Inform Project, in response to regular requests from Member countries for backstopping on GIS technology. It was officially launched this week, Wednesday 18, during a virtual event hosted by SPREP and its partners – UNEP and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)– and attended by more than 60 participants from around the region. 

GIS is a computer system capable of holding and using data describing places on the Earth’s surface. It performs five main functions – data acquisition, data input, data manipulation, data management, data analysis and data output. It also has five main components which allow the computer to perform its GIS functions in an efficient and effective manner. 

GIS has important uses in different fields, such as monitoring and decision-making supporting tools in Environmental Impact Analysis, Disaster Management, Risk Hazard Analysis, and Conservation Planning. It allows users to share ideas on how to meet their resource needs, plan efficient land use, and protect the environment to guarantee the survival of future generations. 

Speaking at the virtual launch, SPREP’s Director General Mr Sefanaia Nawadra stated that the best way to make something happen, and to keep it going, is to demand it. 

He thanked and congratulated SPREP Member countries who have been consistently pushing to get access to and build capacity for the best available information and technology to support their work and decision making, which have led to the development of the GIS e-learning course. 

“I am glad that SPREP was able to contribute both technical and funding support for the development of this course, but it’s the input from country counterparts that has made this outcome possible, with many excellent suggestions and guidance from Member states to ensure that what we put together is relevant to your needs,” Mr Nawadra said. 

Mr Nawadra went on to underscore the important role GIS plays in the joint efforts to protect, conserve and safeguard the Pacific environment, and to promote sustainable development.

“GIS is a tool that helps to inform, safeguard, engage, educate, raise awareness, change behaviours, and influence policies, planning and decision making at all levels. It helps to bridge the gap between science, research and technical assessments and policy development and political decision making,” he said.  

Speaking on behalf of UNEP, Mr Jinhua Zhang stated that the online course is a step forward for Members in the Pacific region on the use of information for sustainable development and to act on the triple planetary crises we face together. 

“It is not only another noble outcome of the Inform project to serve Member countries in the Pacific but also the continued successful cooperation of the partnerships the project has built up. UNEP values these partnerships and appreciates all partners for their support towards this outcome.” 

“GIS has great importance and potential to aid our capabilities to take transformative actions in achieving environmental sustainability, not only in the environment dimension but also the social and economic dimensions of global development,” Mr Zhang added. 

The Regional Director IUCN, Mr Mason Smith, acknowledged the funding support of the European Union towards the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme which also enabled the development of the e-learning course. 

“We are all aware of the challenges the Pacific face, including the negative impacts of climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution. The launch this afternoon of the GIS e-learning module will no doubt add an additional arsenal to our toolkit by using technology and building regional capacities to assist our Member countries in the long-term monitoring and management of our pristine environment.”

“This will be another decision-making tool to help our leaders and those of us in the conservation sector to make informed decisions about development and the environment,” Mr Smith said. 

The newly launched GIS e-learning course will provide an introduction to GIS for environment professionals, as well as to raise awareness about GIS tools and its application in planning works. It is available and accessible to all at any time and is free of charge. 

The course has four modules – Software and Process, Environmental Information Data Collection and Management, Display and Visualisation of Digital Environmental Information, and Spatial Analysis of Environmental Information and Map Making. 

To register for access to the course, please click on this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfQBQhwFxxPj4uffKRlzOCW-p0tJsDHKSiZL2dLWxhwETgpgQ/viewform 

For more information, please contact Mr Paul Anderson, Inform Project Manager, at [email protected]