Our Mission

To benefit society by promoting the development and realization of Digital Earth


ISDE will Organize a Side Event at UN Water Conference


UN 2023 Water Conference Side Event

Big Earth Data: A Game Changer to Promote Implementation SDG 6

18:30-19:45 (UTC-5), March 23

Side Event Room 8, United Nations Headquarters in New York


Lead organization: International Society for Digital Earth (ISDE)


Organizing partners

International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS)

Land and Water Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO Land & Water)

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO-IHP)

Global Water Partnership (GWP)

International Water Resources Association (IWRA)

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)

General Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Design, Ministry of Water Resources, China (GIWP)


Short Description

The data required for monitoring and evaluation of the existing SDG 6 indicator system mainly depends on the submission or confirmation of member states. Due to the differences in monitoring capabilities and the wide variety of data management methods adopted by different countries, there are unintended gaps in indicator data introducing variety of missing data or data discontinuity challenges in a broad, large scale, and in comparative analysis of the real progress of the targets and indicators for different global sub regions, thus impacting the timing and direction of policy intervention. As a collective of multiple active data sources such as space earth observation, ground observation network and mobile internet, and big data analysis methods and technologies including contemporary and novel techniques such as machine learning, deep learning, and cloud computing technologies, big earth data can help to provide solutions to these data and information challenges. Therefore, it has the potential to provide unique advantages to the progress towards the realization of global SDG 6. The call to leverage big earth data has further been emphasized by UNESCO through its 9th Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP IX 2022-2029) Strategic Plan on ‘Science for a Water Secure World in a Changing Environment’. IHP-IX emphasizes on the use of new monitoring techniques, and in particular, the latest ICT technologies, remote sensing and big data, which offer exciting opportunities for observing and modelling hydrological processes across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. The plan further envisions that citizen science initiatives and research projects may add to the big data available already through open science and open access initiatives which further promotes the implementation SDG 6.


1) To discuss and promote recent advances and challenges in big earth data sciences and highlight its potential for supporting research and policy towards implementation of SDG 6; 2) To provide discussion opportunities for promoting engagement and foster multidisciplinary sciences to cooperate in facilitating innovative breakthrough in big earth data implementation for SDG 6, and forming new partnership and collaboration mechanism.

Expected results

The session will allow experts to exchange ideas to help develop a proposed framework for implementation of big earth data sciences in the 2023-2028 water action agenda to improve it as an enabling tool to realize SDG 6 globally. Based on deliberations during the side event, a joint working group for SDG 6 indicator monitoring and evaluation will be established that will work to develop open big earth data product. A cooperative mechanism for future international collaborative work will be identified afterwards.

The related voluntary commitments for the Water Action Agenda

A voluntary commitment for the Water Action Agenda entitled as SDG 6 Data and Information Service System (SDG6-DISS) based on Big Earth Data has been approved and published at: https://sdgs.un.org/partnerships/sdg-6-data-and-information-service-system-sdg6-diss-based-big-earth-data.



ModeratorMr. Gensuo Jia, Professor and Director, Global change research Center for East Asia, CAS IAP; Deputy Director of International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS)

Opening remarks (10’)    

Mr. Huadong Guo, Honorary President of International Society for Digital Earth (ISDE), Director General of CBAS (5’)

Mr. Johnanes Cullmann, Vice-Chair of UN-Water, Scientific Advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly, WMO (5’)

Keynote presentations and comments (15’)

Mr. Shanlong Lu, Global and regional SDG 6 data sets based on Big Earth Data, Professor, International Coordinator of SDG 6 of CBAS (5’)

Ms. Virginie Gillet, Progress on change in water-use efficiency, Land and Water Officer - Water Resources Assessment at FAO (5’)

Comments by Mr. Zhongbo Yu, Chairman of Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP), UNESCO (5’)

Panel discussion (35’)

Mr. Lifeng Li, Director of Land & Water, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Ms. Berit Arheimer, Head of Unit for Hydrological Research at SMHI & World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Ms. Jing Peng, Secretary General of International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR), Vice President of China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR) 

Mr. Koen Verbist, Programme Specialist, Hydrological Systems, Climate Change and Adaptation, Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP), Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO

Mr. Dimitris Faloutsos, Deputy Regional Coordinator at Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med)

Mr. Harsha Ratnaweera, Professor in Water and Wastewater Engineering, Founder and Chairman DOSCON AS

Ms. Elisabeth Lictevout, Director of International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre

Open discussion and wrap-up (15’)

Mr. Odwa Ntsika Mtembu, Geologist, Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur, Sustainable Development and Climate Change Activist, World Merit SA Founder

Mr. Thomas Westhoff, President of International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS)



Stenographer: Ms. Valentina Uribe Jaramillo, Environmental Engineer, Groundwater and Global Change MSc. Student