An ethics assessment list for geoinformation ecosystems: revisiting the integrated geospatial information framework of the United Nations

Stefano Calzati*, Bastiaan van Loenen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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To achieve sustainable development goals, georeferenced data and geographic information systems play a crucial role. Yet, the way in which these data and systems are summoned upon rests on positivist assumptions which overlook both epistemological and ethical concerns. This is epitomized by the integrated geospatial information framework (IGIF) of the United Nations, which, from the perspective of sustainable development, aims to provide guidance for the management of geoinformation and related tools, considering these as mirrors of the physical world. In this respect, the article has three main goals. First, it delivers an epistemological and ethical critique of the IGIF, by highlighting its internal tensions. Second, it suggests how the IGIF and similar geoinformation initiatives can benefit from an ethical reflection that allows to conduct georeferenced practices in a fair(er) way. Third, it designs an ethics assessment list for self-evaluating the ethical robustness of geoinformation initiatives as ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1418-1438
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Digital Earth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • data ecosystem
  • data ethics
  • geoinformation
  • GISs
  • integrated geospatial information framework
  • Sustainable development goals

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