The use of the signals received from existing global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), the best known of which are the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States and the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) of the Russian Federation, has become a cross-cutting tool to support growth in precise positioning applications. With Europe's GALILEO satellite navigation system and China's COMPASS/BeiDou navigation system currently being developed and deployed, the number of satellites available at any given time will greatly increase, thereby enhancing the quality of the services and increasing the number of potential users and applications. Furthermore, a number of space-based augmentation systems and regional navigation satellite systems will add more satellites and signals to multiple systems of satellites and, as a result, improve positioning performance in terms of accuracy, availability, reliability and integrity. To benefit from these achievements, countries need to stay abreast of the latest developments in GNSS-related areas and build the capacity to use the GNSS signal.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), within the framework of its Programme on Space Applications, has been organizing a series of regional workshops on applications of GNSS aimed at increasing awareness among decision makers and policymakers of the benefits of satellite navigation technology and establishing a broad framework for regional and international cooperation.
The results of the series of regional workshops and the international meetings, carried out between 2001 and 2004, contributed to the work of the Action Team on GNSS, one of the 12 action teams established by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) to implement priority recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III). Under the leadership of the United States and Italy, the Action Team on GNSS consisted of 38 countries and 14 international organizations.
In 2004, the Action Team agreed on the distribution of its final report as a special United Nations publication entitled " Report of the Action Team on GNSS: follow-up to the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III)". The work of this Action Team could serve as a model for how the United Nations could undertake follow-up actions of global conferences to yield tangible results within a fixed time frame.
In 2005, the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG), for which UNOOSA acts as Executive Secretariat, was established under the umbrella of the United Nations. ICG's establishment recognizes that GNSS has become a truly international resource and demonstrates the willingness of providers and users to ensure that GNSS services continue to be available in the future for the benefit of humankind.
The following are the regional workshops on applications of GNSS that UNOOSA has carried out between 2001 and 2011:
To commemorate the growth and results the Action Team on GNSS has achieved over the last ten years and look at what could be best achieved through a new approach in the next 5 to 10 years, the United Nations International Meeting on the Applications of GNSS will be held at the United Nations Office at Vienna, Vienna International Centre, Vienna, Austria, from 12 to 16 December 2011. This meeting will bring together the results of the previous regional workshops. It will also be an opportunity to build upon a number of on-going initiatives such as the International Space Weather Initiative (ISWI), multi-GNSS demonstration project, the realization of the regional reference frames and systems, the activities of the UN-affiliated Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education also acting as the ICG Information Centres, and a long-term fellowship programme for in-depth training in GNSS and related applications, and also discuss proposals to be forwarded to the ICG to be held in 2012.