Since 2001, the Office for Outer Space Affairs of the Secretariat, within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, has been organizing a series of regional workshops on the use of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) aimed at increasing awareness among scientists, engineers, decision makers, university educators and policymakers of the benefits of satellite navigation technology and establishing a broad framework for regional and international cooperation.
The results of the regional workshops and the three 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 Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) to implement the priority recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III).
In 2005, the efforts of the Action Team on GNSS, consisting of 38 countries and 15 intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, led to the establishment of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG), under the umbrella of the United Nations. The establishment of ICG demonstrated that GNSS had become a truly international resource and also demonstrated the willingness of providers and users of positioning, navigation and timing services to ensure that GNSS services continued for the benefit of all humankind in the future.
Beginning in 2006, a series of regional workshops has been focusing on the use of GNSS for air, marine, land and personal navigation, Location-Based Services (LBS), Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), and Search and Rescue (SaR) operations, as well as space weather impact on precise positioning applications of GNSS. The overall objective of these workshops is to define the needs and requirements of end-users of GNSS and to provide a framework for scientific research enabled by GNSS.
A unique result of the deliberations of the United Nations regional workshops on GNSS applications is the development of an educational curriculum on GNSS ( ST/SPACE/59). The published curriculum includes a glossary of GNSS terms developed in the framework of the ICG workplan.
The GNSS education curriculum is developed for nine-month postgraduate courses at the regional centres for space science and technology education affiliated to the United Nations, located in Brazil and Mexico (for Latin America and the Caribbean), India (for Asia and the Pacific), Jordan (for Western Asia) and Morocco and Nigeria (for Africa). An additional GNSS educational curriculum supplemented the proven standard model educational curricula of the regional centres for the following four core disciplines: remote sensing and geographic information systems, satellite meteorology and global climate, satellite communications and space and atmospheric science.