More than a quarter of the world's nations participated in the 6 th Global Spatial Data Infrastructure conference that took place in Budapest from Sept 16 - 19 th 2002. A record total of 225 delegates from 51 countries heard over 80 presentations on a wide range of topics relating to the conferences ‘global to local’ theme. These included keynote addresses on the Hungarian national spatial data infrastructure by the new Minister of Information and Communications, K¿¿Kov¿, an overview of UK government initiatives encouraging global access and re-use of public sector information by the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Carol Tullo, and an outline of current European environmental research by the European Commission's Programme Director of Research on Environment and Growth, Christian Patermann.

The Conference marks a turning point in the development of Global Spatial Data Infrastructure as an organisation. After six years of operating under the direction of an informal steering committee of representatives from global, regional and national bodies in all parts of the world, the GSDI association was formally incorporated as a not for profit association in August 2002. Its current Board of Directors is made up of the past, present and future presidents of the Association together with the chairs of its two main working groups and its current secretary. This Board was charged by the Conference participants with the task of preparing a strategic plan to make the Association fully operational by the time of the next conference in Bangalore in February 2004. Some of the main highlights of the Conference were:

  • Capacity building initiatives. It was reported that approximately 100 capacity building projects in all parts of the world are being supported through the $9 million ESRI Global Map/GSDI grant programme announced at the previous conference. Intergraph also announced a new $5.5 million Open Interoperability grant programme at GSDI 6.
  • Growing international recognition of the importance of global mapping initiatives. This is particularly evident in the recommendations in the Action Plan agreed at the recent Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.
  • New European Union initiatives to promote better access to public sector information and develop a European spatial data infrastructure. In the closing session of the conference the outgoing president, Santiago Borrero from the Colombian Geographical Institute (IGAC) welcomed the incoming President, Professor Ian Masser, President of the EUROpean umbrella organisation for Geographic Information (EUROGI). Mukund Rao from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) took over the position of President Elect.