The Permanent Secretary for Fisheries and Forests;
The Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources;
Representatives of various agencies and institutions;
Invited guests;
Ladies and gentlemen.

A very good morning to you all.

It is indeed a great pleasure to officiate the World GIS Day 2022. This year’s theme is, ‘Inspiring Spatial Citizens’. I understand that the very first World GIS Day was initiated in the United States of America by Ralph Nader way back in November 1999, who believed that having a day to commemorate GIS would be a great way for people, especially those at the grassroot level, to learn about geography and GIS technology.

And here we are 24 years later in the heart of Suva joining the many GIS practitioners around the world to raise awareness on the power and benefits of GIS, and to inspire our citizens to be spatially minded. The World GIS Day here in Fiji has brought together our universities, government and nongovernment agencies, schools, and GIS professionals to showcase GIS in their various field of work.

GIS has been present in Fiji for many years and the growing appreciation by the government as a powerful decision-making tool to guide planning, resource deployment and informed decision is well known. From the creation of dashboards for the CoVID-19 pandemic response to relief trackers to monitor and guide relief distribution during tropical cyclone events that affect our nation, GIS has enhanced the efficiency of governments operations and services, as it continues to support our national development priorities.

GIS has made it simpler to understand our surroundings and the environment and make decisions regarding the environment. Within GIS, one can analyze the geographic spread of data to gain better insight into distribution patterns. GIS can be used in areas such as land management, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, disaster risk reduction, public health and mining to name a few.

As Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, I appreciate the benefits of using GIS for the execution of service delivery for my ministry in land administration and mineral development, and how it has improved the way decisions are made to better the lives of our citizens.

The celebration of World GIS Day is an excellent way to raise awareness to our citizens on how technology, and in this case how GIS technology is applied in their day-to-day experiences such as using digital maps to find directions on how to get to a certain place, to knowing what kinds of services are provided at which locations from searching via their personal computers or their mobile phones.

With the booths that have been set up, along with demonstrations provided by the various agencies and institutions, I am sure that we will all appreciate how GIS technology has assisted us to understand our environment, the issues about where we live, and how we can turn these issues into opportunities to build a better our way of life for our nation today and for the future.

As the contribution of GIS to nation building continues to grow, I would like to thank all those GIS practitioners in the country who have been champions of GIS and have been diligent to realize the establishment GIS and see it grow to where it is today.

For our young people who are looking for a career, if you are curious about exploring the world and knowing more about the environment, GIS is a wonderful career option that will provide you many opportunities to expand your knowledge, skill and be a part of supporting nation building.

I congratulate the organizers of the World GIS Day, all GIS practitioners and the leadership provided by the Permanent Secretaries, head of the various agencies and institutions on the occasion of World GIS day and look forward to your continued efforts in the development and expansion of GIS in Fiji.
With these words, I officially launch the World GIS Day 2022.

Thank you, Dhanyavad and Vinaka Vakalevu.