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This chapter discusses the origins and purpose of Global Map, the current situation of the initiative, and the challenges it faces in the future. A major societal challenge facing the world today involves finding a way to deal more effectively with growing environmental problems. Reliable geographic information at a global scale is an indispensable element in formulating policy responses to global environmental challenges. The main purpose of Global Map is to describe the status of the global environment to aid in decision-making processes. Global Map provides digital maps of the terrestrial surface of Earth at a resolution of 1 km, with consistent and comparable specifications for every country. It is produced in cooperation with the national mapping organization in each country. Global Map was initiated by the government of Japan as a contribution to the action plan of the United Nations Agenda 21 program. There are four vector and four raster layers. Version 1 of Global Map was released in June 2008 and includes coverage of Antarctica. It also includes two global maps with complete high-quality coverage, one on land cover and the other on percentage tree cover. New uses of Global Map include disaster adaptation, mitigation, and management, and educational applications. Although Global Map as a product is important, the cooperative process by which Global Map is produced is equally important. This ongoing cooperation will help to ensure the future of Global Map as it enters a new phase in its development and make a substantial contribution to capacity building in the application of geoinformation to sustainable development.

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