WG6- Contribution of Digital Earth to Sustainable Development Goals


Lixia Chu (University of Salzburg, Austria, lixiachu613@gmail.com)

Hiromichi Fukui (Chubu University, Japan, fukui@isc.chubu.ac.jp)

Gregory Giuliani (University of Geneva, Switzerland, gregory.giuliani@unepgrid.ch)


1. Scope

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015, is a universal development agenda for all countries with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), 169 targets and 232 associated indicators. It aims to address the economic, social and environmental aspects to achieve a balance between the exploitation of natural resources for socio-economic development, and conserving ecosystem services that are critical to everyone’ s wellbeing and livelihoods. This policy framework enables countries to define, measure and monitor progresses towards sustainable development.

Digital Earth can play an insightful role to provide the necessary basis for reliable and accountable scientific understanding and knowledge to support informed decisions and evidence-based policy advices. It can help integrating different datasets (e.g., demographic, statistical data) describing the three dimensions of sustainability to adequately characterize a given location (economic, social, and environmental). It allows monitoring and assessing conditions and progresses at different scales (e.g., sub-national, national, regional, global), understanding interactions between various systems (e.g., atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, geosphere), and model future changes. Consequently, Information Technology can play a significant role (i.e., Digital Transformation) to leverage modern analytics and modelling technologies (e.g., Big Data, Artificial Intelligence) and generate, in a consistent and standardized manner, the required and accountable knowledge for decision-makers.


2. Objectives and Methodology

WG6 is aiming to act as a forum to increase our understanding on the potential and limitations of Digital Earth for systematic generation of information and knowledge to measure progress towards SDGs. 

A particular attention will be paid on (1) not duplicating the work that is already done by other groups/activities (e.g., EO4SDG) but instead aims at creating synergies and facilitate integration. (2) consider/cover different data sources/types (not only geospatial but also socio-economic, …)

In particular, the working group will explore the following priorities for implementation:

(1) the design of SDG indicator metrics at national levels and how Digital Earth can contribute to that end;

(2) harmonized national metrics for SDG implementation, including for baseline determination and target setting;

(3) setting up monitoring platforms for tracking progress towards the SDGs;

(4) knowledge needs for assessing implementation of actions and strategies towards achieving set SDG targets;

(5) governance and institutional arrangements, including multi-stakeholder participation.


3. On-going and Planned Activities

For 2021, WG6 plans to take the following activities (that will be regularly updated):

(1) Kick-Off the working group & organized a session on Digital Earth for Sustainable Development Goals at the 12th International Symposium on Digital Earth in Salzburg (6-8 July): https://digitalearth2021.org

(2) Identify potential contributors to Digital Earth for Sustainable Development Goals with a broad coverage with all part of the world.

(3) Make a survey of relevant activities to define the State of Play in the field of DE and SDGs

(4) Engage with relevant contributors/stakeholders and initiatives.

(5) Identify relevant case studies and/or develop demonstrators on DE for SDGs.

(6) Elaborate Best Practices/Guidance of the use of DE technologies for SDGs.

(7) Develop synergies with other ISDE Working Groups.

(8) Organize a round table on the ISDE Forum (continuation of point 1).

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