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Earth observations into action: Systemic integration of Earth observation applications into national risk reduction decision structures leveraging geospatial data infrastructures

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By David Borges, David Green, and Steven Ramage


As stated in the United Nations (UN) Global Assessment Report (GAR) 2022 Concept Note, decision makers everywhere need data and statistics that are accurate, timely, sufficiently disaggregated, relevant, accessible and easy to use. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate scalable and replicable methods to advance and integrate the use of Earth observations, specifically ongoing efforts within the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Work Programme and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Work Plan, to support risk-informed decision making, based on documented national and subnational needs and requirements.

Significant progress has been made specifically on developing integrated geospatial and statistical data to address the Sustainable Development Goals (e.g. United Nations Expert Group on the Integration of Statistical and Geospatial Information). A lesser degree of focus to date has been placed on merging the scientific Earth observation, global geospatial, statistical and disaster risk reduction communities at technical and policy levels. Accelerated uptake and improved usefulness of existing and planned Earth observations is expected if the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN- GGIM), GEO and CEOS increase collaboration and focus on practical applications guided by high level frameworks, such as the UN-GGIM Strategic Framework on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters.

GEO is an international partnership of governments and international organizations working on coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations (EO). As a Participating Organization, i.e. a partner of GEO, CEOS and its Working Group on Disasters (WGDisasters) ensures international coordination of civil space-based EO programs and promotes exchange of data to help address global challenges, including disaster risk reduction (DRR).

GEO and CEOS activities focused on DRR leverage public and private sector memberships at regional and national levels, through regionally oriented GEOs (AfriGEO, AOGEO, EuroGEO, and AmeriGEO) to understand requirements and work to reduce uncertainty through applications of scientific and policy developments.

Promotion of open data sharing and geospatial technology solutions that are scalable and replicable at national and subnational scales encourages accelerated implementation of successful EO applications. These solutions may also be linked to specific Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) Global Targets (E, F and G) that provide trusted answers to risk-oriented decision frameworks, as well as critical synergies between the Sendai Framework and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Goals; SDGs). This paper provides examples of these efforts in the form of platforms and knowledge hubs that leverage latest developments in analysis ready data and support evidence-based DRR measures.