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GEO Contributes to UN Resolution on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters

Impact on the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


Earth observations play a major role in helping countries achieve the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Earth observations are used for monitoring and reporting on the SDG targets and indicators, and helps countries to develop policies, track progress, make informed decisions and implement change.

GEO promotes the inclusion of Earth observation data in the methodologies that are used to measure and ultimately achieve the SDGs. GEO members are working in close collaboration with United Nations bodies, including the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) and other GEO participating organisations including the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics ( TReNDS). Through the Global Work Programme, GEO is making an impact on UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Earth Observations in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Earth Observations in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
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'Earth Observations in the support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' was published with contributions from the GEO community, including EO4SDG Initiative together with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) and others. It explores the ways the EO supports the SDGs.

Download a copy of the report here.

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The Earth Observation Handbook

Image by Jason Schuller
The Earth Observation Handbook

EO4SDG contributed input to the special edition of the CEOS Handbook on ‘Satellite Earth Observations in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals.’

While Earth observations can be used to address most of the 17 SDGs, assessments by GEO and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) have identified nine goals where Earth observations can have the greatest impact: 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water) and 15 (Life on Land).

Satellite Earth Observations In Support Of The Sustainable Development Goals

Download the handbook here.

Image by Bence Balla-Schottner
Image by Alex Wigan
Image by Bence Balla-Schottner
Image by Alex Wigan
Image by Alex Wigan

Impact on

SDG 2 

Zero Hunger

Impact on SDG 2  ZERO HUNGER
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GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring supports a world with zero hunger

GEOGLAM provides a framework to strengthen the international community’s capacity to produce and disseminate relevant, timely and accurate forecasts of agricultural production at national, regional and global scales through the use of Earth Observations (EO) including satellite and ground-based observations.


This initiative builds on existing agricultural monitoring programmes and initiatives at national, regional and global levels and to enhance and strengthen them through international networking, operationally focused research, and data/method sharing.

Within this framework, GEOGLAM developed the Crop Monitor reports which provide global crop condition assessments in support of the AMIS market monitoring activities. The first issue of the Crop Monitor appeared in the September 2013 issue of the AMIS Market Monitor. Given the success of the AMIS Crop Monitor, in 2016, GEOGLAM developed the Early Warning Crop Monitor. The Early Warning Crop Monitor brings together international, regional, and national organizations monitoring crop conditions within countries at risk of food insecurity.

The important and ongoing roles of both GEOGLAM and AMIS to impact food security were reaffirmed by the G20 Agriculture Ministers during their 2016 meeting in Xi’an, China.

“Taking into consideration the central role of agriculture towards food security and even global stability, and the heavy effects of extreme food price volatility on food security, we commit to continue to tackle the issue of price volatility. In particular, we commit to pursue the implementation of the concrete initiatives of the 2011 G20 Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture in dedicated forums: Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) and the Rapid Response Forum, GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM) for market and production international monitoring, and risk management tools, such as the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM), and the Wheat Initiative. We acknowledge the contributions of other initiatives including the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP).”  


G20 Agriculture Ministers Communiqué- Xi’an, China June 2016

Impact on

SDG 6 

Clean Water

Image by Samara Doole
Image by Samara Doole

GEO and UN Environment revise indicator methodology for SDG 6 to support global monitoring of mangroves, wetlands and water quality

EO4SDG is integrating Earth observations in national SDG monitoring, reporting and implementation processes for SDG indicator 6.6.1: change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time.

In 2017-18, representatives from EO4SDG, AquaWatch and GEO Wetlands supported UN Environment and other stakeholders to explore the use of Earth observation data and tools for national monitoring and reporting. As a result of these activities a new monitoring methodology was developed.

In 2018 the indicator was upgraded to Tier II by the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators in recognition that it has an internationally accepted process for tracking progress against it.

Piloted in Cambodia, Jamaica, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia, and considered a best practice for measuring this indicator, the new methodology was developed by UN Environment in close consultation with UN-Water, and with input from the Ramsar Secretariat, the Integrated Water Management Institute (IWMI), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Experts from the GEO Secretariat, EO4SDG, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), NASA, and Google Earth Engine provided additional scientific expertise and completed pilot activities that informed the methodology update process.

UN Environment, NASA and ESA in collaboration with EO4SDG have been working together to develop pilot testing to use satellite data for official monitoring on mangroves, wetlands and water quality which can provide insight for SDG 6. Based on consultations with countries in 2017, less than a quarter of countries currently collect national data which can be used to monitor water-related ecosystem extent or quality.

Currently, global data products on mangroves, wetlands and water quality are under development and will be added to the SDG 6.6.1 application. Technical briefings on the pilot projects have been prepared and shared with countries and have been used in a number of regional and national workshops hosted by UN Environment.

Impact on SDG 6  CLEAN WATER
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Impact on

SDG 7:

Affordable and Clean Energy

Image by _M_V_
Impact on SDG 7 Clean Energy


Globally, approximately 1.1 billion people lack access to modern energy sources, which poses a significant obstacle to social and economic development. For this reason, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 seeks to ensure “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.” Furthermore, as a result of inadequate clean energy sources, an estimated 2.8 million people die prematurely each year because of the smoky environments caused by burning solid biomass in inefficient stoves or from combustion of kerosene or coal for cooking (IEA 2017).

These challenges require a solution that reconciles demand for modern and sustainable energy services with its impact on the environment in order to ensure that sustainable development goals are realized. Renewable energy (RE) can enable the development of sustainable local sources of energy with the least negative impact on the environment and human health.

The GEO Vision for Energy (GEO-VENER) informs renewable energy policy and planning.

GEO’s efforts in the energy and minerals resources support the development of Earth observation (EO) products and services for energy management and encourage the use of Earth observation data for informed renewable energy policy planning through the GEO-VENER initiative. Satellite-based EO data offer opportunities to advance understanding of global change, and to support assessments and provide other parameters relevant to energy resources or management more broadly. The GEO-VENER Initiative has sought to further these developments through the provision of tools and resources as well as convening stakeholders such as data providers, data end users, and others.

From 2015-2017, GEO-VENER contributed to the EU Horizon 2020 (H2020) ConnectinGEO project, to identify essential variables for renewable energies, produce gap analysis and outline industrial challenges on in situ measurements. While the project has been completed, the outcomes have contributed to the European Network of Earth Observation Networks.

In 2017, GEO-VENER supported the-operational COPERNICUS Atmosphere Monitoring Service for Solar Radiation and established a Sensor Observation Service capacity for in situ measurements. This component is openly available to the public and researchers on the community portal.

In 2018, GEO- VENER contributed to the Climate change Impacts to Energy Sector in collaboration with the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

In 2019, GEO-VENER released a first version of an improved end-to-end solar irradiance nowcasting system called MAD-WRF. Since 2013, GEO-VENER has contributed to capacity buildings efforts through workshops and trainings with diverse energy management end users, including solar energy professionals and s electric utility end users. In 2016, a workshop was held with international energy management stakeholders to prioritize key areas within the sector.


To meet capacity building and networking goals, side events were facilitated at several recent GEO events, including GEO Weeks in Washington DC, Japan, and Australia (in November 2019). GEO-VENER members also participated in the annual GEO Symposium.  

“GEO VENER is the bridge between GEO and its stakeholders, co-designing and co-creating knowledge and information in renewable energies, sharing its outcomes to all, and contributing to the three main priorities of GEO (SDG7, Paris Agreement and Sendaï Framework). Earth Observation Data and information from satellites, ground-based systems, and models are a key-enabler of the development and integration of renewable energies in the world.” 


Dr. Richard S. Eckman, Programme Manager, NASA.

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"Earth Observation Data and information from satellites, ground-based systems, and models are a key-enabler of the development and integration of renewable energies in the world.”


Dr. Richard S. Eckman, Programme Manager, NASA

Impact on

SDG 11

Sustainable Cities & Communities

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EO4SDG and Swedish National Authorities develop National Land Cover Database

EO4SDG supported a comprehensive mapping of Sweden's national land cover (NMD) using open satellite data as an essential component. NMD is based on analysis of Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-1 satellite data, Lidar data and national databases.


Developed with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with 7 Swedish authorities including Statistics Sweden and other relevant organizations to create a new nationwide database. It is planned to continuously update the NMD. The project serves as an excellent showcase for other countries, on the use of Earth observations in the context of land cover assessment.

There are several Agenda 2030 goals linked to this project; in particular SDG 15 Life on Land, as it will contribute to the sustainable use of the ecosystem and its biological diversity, as well as SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 13 Climate Action.

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Image by 贝莉儿 DANIST
Image by 贝莉儿 DANIST

“It is very valuable that several national authorities jointly created NMD for the whole of Sweden. It will facilitate the planning, analysis and reporting of our protected areas and provide great benefit to many other parts of the community planning,”


Birgitta Olsson, Senior Scientific Officer, Swedish Environmental Agency


Impact on

SDG 12


Consumption & 


Image by Mikhail Rakityanskiy
Image by Mikhail Rakityanskiy

The European Product Award for commercial organizations monitoring the SDGs

The Earth observation industry provides data, information and services which can support the implementation of the SDGs by providing critical information on natural resources, government operations, public services, population demographics and other key areas. That’s why the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) decided to focus its Product Award on companies that are addressing implementation of the SDGs.

EARSC established the annual product award in 2016 and since then it has been well received by the community with evaluators from GEO, the United Nations, ESA and others contributing to the selection process. The first award was given to Jeobrowser for their Rocket application which allows users to use simple search terms to search millions of satellite images and helping to achieve SDG10 on reducing inequalities.

The “Waste from Space” product from Air and Space Evidence product won the 2017 EARSC Product Award  for their use of open data from the Landsat and Sentinel satellite programmes to monitor unlawful dumping of waste in unsuitably prepared locations. The solution aimed to drive down the size of the waste crime problem to ensure that much more waste/hazardous waste is subject to environmentally sound management in its lifecycle (SDG 12.4), and push for more waste to be treated properly and sustainably within the circular economy (SDG 12.5). It can also contribute to combating organized crime (SDG 16.4).

“Waste crime can cause environmental damage to surrounding land, air and water, and poses a risk to human and animal health. Living near an unlawful waste site can also ruin people’s lives. We are aiming to use cutting edge space technology to significantly reduce the scale of the waste crime problem,” Prof. Ray Harris, Director at Air and Space Evidence.

The 2018 EARSC Product Award winner was the  "Dust Frequency Maps” from SILEX CLOUDS which provides a historical analysis of dust storm occurrences over the last decade. This product is targeted at the management of PV Solar Parks under dust/sand conditions that affect the performance of solar power energy projections and effective production, contributing to clean energy reporting and monitoring (SDG7 and SDG9 on infrastructures).

“As a CEO of Silex Clouds S.R.L. I’m very glad and honoured that our solution on Dust Frequency Maps was recognized by EARSC and rewarded with the ‘European EO Product Award 2018’. I strongly believe that our service could support the accomplishment of the 2030 SDGs. I am convinced that this noticeable award will leverage our company, and that EARSC endorsement will enable us to bring our solution to its Final Users. Overall it is very innovative products for the MENAcountries” Pablo Marzialetti, CEO SLIEX CLOUDS.

The 2019 EARSC Product Award  was awarded to EARS, a Dutch company producing an Agriculture Index Insurance, AgriIndex. This product already assists 18 countries with drought related crop yield losses supporting SDG2 on zero hunger and food security.

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Jon Carver, Air and Space Evidence and Rob Postma, Airbus

"Where drought has been felt most, coffee trees have dried up. Some have failed to flower due to lack of moisture… It becomes worse when the coffee beans are forming. Because this stage needs enough water and moisture for growth but when absent, these dry up...The problem is critical, the weather has become too harsh for coffee”


Joseph Nkandu, the executive director of the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (Nucafe) in Uganda.


Impact on

SDG 13

Climate Action

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Japan’s Forest Early Warning System expanded to 77 countries                                                                                     

As part of their contributions to GEO, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the ‘Forest Early Warning System in the Tropics (JJ-FAST)’, an online system that uses satellite data to monitor tropical forests every 1.5 months. In June 2018, the system’s service coverage was expanded to include 77 countries.

This system provides information to countries to track and meet SDG 15 (Life on Land) targets related to forests and biodiversity, as well as SDG 13 (Climate Action) and articles of the Paris Agreement. The Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) and its partners are currently considering how the system can also be used by countries to detect illegal logging.


Impact on

SDG 14

Life Under


Image by Jeremy Bishop
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GEO monitoring activities with UN Environment and IOC-UNESCO

GEO activities are contributing the achievement of SDG 14 by complementing efforts by various UN custodian agencies in their methodologies to track and measure life under water.

EO4SDG and GEO Blue Planet are working with UN Environment to measure marine pollution, including coastal eutrophication and marine litter (SDG 14.1.1). GEO Blue Planet recently led the drafting of a detailed technical background paper on data related to marine litter. Additionally, GEO Blue Planet is working with UN Environment to produce a global mapping of Chlorophyll-A which will be directly used to compute a sub-indicator of SDG 14.1.1 on chlorophyll-A deviations within the EEZ.

At the same time, GEO Aquawatch is developing an inventory of eutrophication monitoring methods and projects to address needs of UN Environment and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)-UNESCO for SDG 14.

Impact on SDG 15 LIFE ON LAND

Impact on

SDG 15

Life on


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GEO LDN Initiative responds to UNCCD call to action for SDG 15

In September 2017, the UNCCD 13th Conference of the Parties invited GEO to support them in implementing the goals of the Convention by providing space-based information and in situ measurements. In response, UNCCD and GEO partners have developed the GEO Land Degradation Neutrality Initiative (GEO LDN). This initiative will advance the collaborative development, provision and use of Earth observation datasets, quality standards, and analytical tools to achieve Land Degradation Neutrality.

Land Degradation Neutrality is defined by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) as “the amount and quality of land resources, necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security, remains stable or increases within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems.”

Countries need quantitative assessments and maps of degraded land to halt, and eventually reverse, current trends toward land degradation. The importance of this Earth observation-based information is recognized in SDG indicator 15.3.1 (proportion of land that is degraded over total land area), and by the adoption of Land Degradation Neutrality targets under the auspices of the UNCCD.

The strategic objectives of GEO LDN are to:

1) Facilitate access to space-based information and in situ measurements;

2) Provide expertise, tools and training to build national capacities; and

3) Assist with the further development of international standards and protocols for the indicator.


GEO remote sensing products reveals recovery of forests in China

GEO remote sensing products reveals recovery of forests in China

Image by Jakub Sejkora
Image by kazuend
Image by Jakub Sejkora
Image by Jakub Sejkora
Image by Jakub Sejkora


In 2016, a report on Remote Sensing Monitoring of China's Sustainable Development revealed the effects of the Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Programme on vegetation recovery, restoration and the regional ecological balance and has helped provide monitoring data for SDG 15 Life on Land and to combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation.

Based on results of GEO Multi-source Synergized Quantitative Remote Sensing Products (GEO MUSYQ) vegetation products and produced by the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and commissioned by the State Council, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Ecological Environment of China, the report analysed he impact of the Three-North Shelterbelt Forest Programme, the world’s largest human-planted forest strips in the northern regions of China: the North, the Northeast and the Northwest. The project was launched in 1979 and the study showed the extent of vegetation recovery.

The long-time series GEO MUSYQ vegetation products were used to investigate the recovery of the plants in the areas where the Forest Programme was implemented. It is found that human-planted forestry plays an important role in the vegetation recovery in the Songliao Plain, the Taihang Mountain, the Southern of Qinling Mountain, and the Northern of Tianshan Mountains.

The positive results of GEO MUSYQ vegetation products proved the effects of China's Three-North forests Shelterbelt Programme on tree planting, vegetation recovery, sandstorm prevention and as an agricultural safeguard, and they also reinforce China’s policy to implement a follow-up phase.

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