Leveraging GIS at UNU

The State of GIS at UNU

ESRI software such as its flagship ArcGIS software has been in use at United Nations University for over fifteen years, and UNU’s current agreement covers unlimited licenses to access the entire ArcGIS ecosystem. All staff and students can be assigned licenses, all without repeating the procurement cycle to renew licenses

Unlike previous versions of ArcGIS and other ESRI products, no longer is there a need to maintain servers. ESRI applications are cloud based, including GIS, and analytics and storage are accessible through the use of ESRI’s credits system. ESRI also has a great many tools which go beyond GIS which can be used for a wide array of research or communication needs.

As the ICT arm of UNU, C3 provides a curated GIS resources site and, in conjunction with our support team at ESRI, opportunities for GIS Webinars and other types of capacity building, while working with ESRI on creating a research data hub so we can better share and leverage our cumulative information across the entire University.

In February 2010, ESRI and UNU’s Institute of Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at UNU Centre in Tokyo, Japan to bring ESRI’s GIS applications and ecosystem to UNU. Michael Gould, ESRI’s Director of Education Solutions, signed the MOU on behalf of ESRI, and then-UNU Rector and Under Secretary-General Konrad Osterwalder signed on behalf of UNU.

Areas of collaboration included research, the Centers of Excellence, the exchange of graduate students, and geographic information system (GIS) training opportunities within and by UNU. It was hoped that the agreement would promote enhanced spatial information use in UNU’s research and education initiatives while connecting graduate students to real-world problems, such as climate change, water resource management, food security, natural hazards, and sustainable development, and critical issues being researched at UNU institutes using GIS.

Consortium Membership


Tokyo, Japan


Brugge, Belgium


Guimaraes, Portugal


Bonn, Germany


Dresden, Germany


Tokyo, Japan


Hamilton, Canada


Macau SAR, China


Maastricht, Netherlands


Helsinki, Finland