The 5th Divisional Meeting of UNGEGN ASE Division

9th of August 2017, UN Headquarters, New York, USA


5th Divisional Meeting
United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN)
Asia South East Division (ASED)
09 August 2017
UN Headquarters, New York


Attending Member Countries


IndonesiaMalaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam

Welcome Remarks


Dr. Peter N. Tiangco, Chair of UNGEGN-ASE Division
delivered the opening address

Election of Executive Positions 


The Chair nominated the Philippines to take on the positions of Secretary and Rapporteur for this meeting. The nomination was agreed and seconded by all other members

Adoption of Agenda


The agenda was tabled by the Chair and adopted in the meeting


I. Chairman's Report

The Chair presented the proceedings during the 4th ASEDivisional Meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016 and the actions taken to address the five resolutions resulting from the meeting. The meeting was conducted in conjunction with the UN­ GGIM International Forum on Policy and Legal Frameworks for Geospatial Information and 5th UN-GGIM-AP Plenary Meeting.

The five resolutions were: (1) the first regional training in toponymy including marine to be held in the Philippines in conjunction with the 5th Divisional Meeting;' (2) Indonesia will provide each member country their respective portion of the division gazetteer and Generic Names Table for updates; (3) member countries will be encouraged to actively contribute to the ASE Division's website; (4) Malaysia will upload the guidelines on naming island and geographic entities to the ASE Division website's; (5) member countries which were not able to attend the meeting will be informed of the minutes of meeting.

On the actions taken for these resolutions, the following points were discussed:

  1. The first regional training in toponymy including marine toponymy was postponed and rescheduled for 2018 due to the unavailability ofUNGEGNtrainers. The venue will still be in the Philippines and its tentative date is April or May. An invitation will be sent again for this event after necessary preparation has been finalized.
  2. Indonesia already uploaded the regional map and gazetteer in the ASE website. All member countries are encouraged to visit the website to check their datasets. Indonesia is still undertaking data processing and will later provide each member country with their own datasets. The Chair expressed his commendation to Indonesia for their continuous support in hosting the website and the regional map and gazetteer.
  3. All member countries were reminded to visit the website and share all updates and accomplishments on geographical names.
  4. Malaysia clarified that the guidelines on naming island and geographic entities from their country has copyright issues and will not be uploaded to the ASE Division website. The document can only be purchased and cannot be accessed in the internet although Malaysia suggested that a link in ASE website can be done to get access to this manual. Nonetheless, Malaysia provided a printed copy to Indonesia and the Chair.
    The Chair understood the copyright issues and thanked Malaysia for their explanation.
  5. Member countries who were not able to attend the previous meeting were informed of the minutes through email


II. Country Reports


Indonesia presented their updates since the last divisional meeting. First, being in charge of the management of the Asia South East Division (ASED) website at and management of the regional map and gazetteer, they encouraged all members to contribute to the website and verify their country map and gazetteer data. Second, Indonesia runs a project tribute for the late Prof. [acub Rais which highlights generic terms in member countries. Any contributions on the said project are most welcome. Third, the National Names Authority of Indonesia, previously named the National Team of Standardization of Topographical Names, is now the Geospatial Information Agency of Indonesia (BIG) based on Presidential Regulation No. 116/2016. Fourth, the Gazetteer of Islands in Indonesia now contains 16,056 islands based on toponymic surveys conducted until July 2017. An additional 2,590 islands were added to the submitted 13,466 islands in 2012. Fifth, BIG still continues to develop and enhance the features of the mobile acquisition tool named SAKTI and a web-based application will be developed and integrated with this mobile application. Lastly, BIG is planning to update the ASED website next year.



The Malaysian National Committee on Geographical Names (MNCGN) presented their country report which covers all activities on geographical names and related matters from October 2016 to August 2017. First, the national and technical committees conducted meetings and workshops to address issues and disseminate information on guidelines in determining geographical names and understanding the database. Second, the Working Group on Policy and Geographical Names Updating, administered by JUPEM, finalized the Toponymic Guidelines for Map and Other Editors for International Use which was written in English and Malay languages. This toponymic guideline was submitted on 26 June 2016 to be published in the UNGEGN website and to be presented during the 11th UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names in New York. Third, the verification of the Malaysian Geographical Names Database (PDNG) using digital topographic database at scales 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 is almost complete while verification at scales 1:5,000 and 1: 10,000 is ongoing. The database consists of local names, location, historical background, Arabic character, audio file and gazette notification which have authoritative records for government and public use. Fourth, the geographical names website called "MyGeoname", launched in 2006, was updated on June 13, 2017. The MyGeoName application can be accessed via Guidelines for the determination of geographical names, frequently asked questions (FAQ), issues of geographical names and list of liaison officers of each agency are available in this website. Fifth, the Working Group on Islands and Geographical Entities summarized the following: there are 871 islands with names, 493 geographical entities with names and 196 islands/geographical entities without names. One of the main tasks of this working group is to propose names for existing islands and geographical entities in accordance with the guidelines for the Standardization of Undersea Feature Names produced by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). Lastly, JUPEM is undertaking preparation of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for updating the Geographical Names Database for urban and developed areas. This document shall serve as the main reference of all State Liaison Officers once completed.



The National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) presented their country report for geographical names activities. Accomplishments include the ongoing Philippine Islands Inventory Project which already finished province of Palawan, the updating of the Philippine Gazetteer based on the 1:50,000 topographic maps; the ongoing production of 1:10,000 topographic maps which will be finished in 2020 for the whole Philippines and the production of 1:4,000 topographic maps which will produce detailed geographical names in select areas of the Philippines. Also, 'Benham Rise' is now named 'Philippine Rise' as per Executive Order No. 25 dated 16 May 2017.



Singapore presented that they already finished geographical names of their country. The most recent update is the ongoing 3D Mapping in which they completed all geographical names, 200,000 buildings, and 5,500-kilometer length of roads. The 3D model was completed two (2) months ago and they plan to update these 3D models in the near future.



The Department of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation of Viet Nam (DOSMVN) presented their country report which highlighted their accomplishments from May 2017 to July 2017 and further plans for geographical names activities.

First, the achievements include: (1) established the National Technical Regulation to determine official geographic names; (2) established the National Geographical Names Database and formulation of its guidelines; (3) published the National Gazetteer; (4) completed verification of 169,299 geographical names database using digital topographical database at scale 1:10,000; (S) formulated standardization of geographical names QCVNll:2010jBTNMT with instructions for transcription; (6) built-up of Geographical Names Information System (GNIS) of Viet Nam which was implemented in 43 out of 63 provinces; and (7) built-up of GNISfor foreign countries which established 6,000 international geographical names.

Second, the activities in 2017 are: (1) standardized local geographical names which was implemented in 11 provinces; (2) published gazette of geographical names; and (3) updated of geographical names database.

Finally, the future plans include (1) establish the National Committee on geographical names; (2) continue standardization of toponymy of maps for 9 cities and remaining provinces of Viet Nam; (3) update the geographical names database; (4) build and publish dictionary of toponymy via media and internet; and (S) establish the website for Viet Nam's geographical names.


III. Summary of Discussion

  1. The Philippines follows the definition of IHO which defines an island as an offshore feature permanently above water for its islands inventory project. They will conduct an intensive ground validation and formulate additional criteria on the definition of islands. There are small islands with no names just like in other member countries.
  2. Indonesia already uploaded the Regional Map and Gazetteer in the website and they are requesting all member countries to update their own dataset. Singapore recommended to use the data given by Mr. Watt and remove the dataset covering Pacific South West Division. Each country has a duty to check their own country dataset.
  3. The first Regional Training in Toponymy including Marine Toponymy will push through in 2018 upon submission of the training proposal to be submitted by the Philippines to UNSD. The training is a five-day affair inclusive of field work as practical exercise.

    No training fee shall be collected. Each country will shoulder their own transportation, accommodation and meal expenses.

    The training is open to members in the Asian Region but ASE Division member countries are given priority. Japan and South Korea expressed their intention to join the said training.

    The course syllabus and details of said training shall be provided to all member countries upon finalization by Mr. Ormeling and the Secretary/Rapporteur.

  4. The 6th ASE Divisional meeting will be conducted after the training and its tentative venue will be in Metro Manila Included in the agenda of said meeting is the election of new Chair for the Division.


IV. Resolutions

There are three (3) resolutions approved during the meeting, as follows:

  1. Encourage participation of member countries in ASE Division.
  2. Limit the regional map and gazetteer by removing the Pacific South West region.
  3. Each member shall check and verify their country data as published in the Regional Map and Gazetteer uploaded in the ASE Division website


V. Date and Venue of the 6th ASE Divisional Meeting in 2018

The Philippines will host the 6th ASE Divisional Meeting in conjunction with the Regional Training Course in Toponymy. The tentative date will be on April or May 2018.


The file of Minutes Meeting of 5th ASE Divisional Meeting available to download here.