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Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Development Goals’

Research tying spatial data to resiliency and development goals

October 27, 2019 Leave a comment

One goal of this blog and our book is to raise awareness and action to develop data sets, data standards, and data portals so that decisions will be increasingly made with geospatial information.  One of the chief challenges to this is the persistent lack of geospatial information.  It isn’t just “us” as the GIS practitioners talking with each other about this.  As far back as 1992, Goodchild, Haining and others were pointing out this very thing in their article in the International Journal of GIS.

More recently, research studies have appeared that tie spatial data to much broader resiliency and development initiatives–specifically, that the lack of data is hindering some much broader planet-wide goals.   A white paper entitled Transforming Our World:  Geospatial Information: Key to Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ties the need for geospatial data to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  In yet another example, both of the following studies indicate that the lack of data is one of the biggest obstacles to progress toward the UN development goals.

  • United Nations Independent Expert Advisory Group (UN). 2014. A World That Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. A Report to the UN Secretary General. New York, NY: United Nations, p. 28.
  • Stuart, E., E. Samman, W. Avis, and T. Berliner. 2015. The data revolution: finding the missing millions. ODI Research Report 03. London: Overseas Development Institute, p. 51.

The following study states that advances in research on resilience and vulnerability are hampered by access to reliable data.

  • Barrett, C. B. and D.D. Headey. 2014. Measuring resilience in a risky world: Why, where, how, and who? 2020 Conference Brief, 1. May 17-19, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Washington, D.C: International Food Policy Research Institute.

The biological and conservation community has been particularly active in this area, pointing out the unequal distribution of biodiversity data across the globe, by region, over time, and also in the coverage of certain taxa and ecosystems, such as in the following articles.

  • Amano, T., Sutherland, WJ.  2013.  Four barriers to the global understanding of biodiversity conservation: Wealth, language, geographical location, and security.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B  280.  (article 20122649)
  • Gaiji, S., Chavan, V., Ariño, AH., Otegui, J., Hobern, D., Sood, R., Robles, E.  2013.  Content assessment of the primary biodiversity data published through GBIF network: Status, challenges, and potentials.  Biodiversity Informatics 8(94):  172.
  • Osawa, T., Jinbo, U, Iwasaki, N.  2014.   Current status and future perspective on “Open Data” in biodiversity science, Japan.  Japanese Journal of Ecology 64:  153-162.
    If you have others to add to this list, please comment and share!

    The lack of geospatial information hinders the ability to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other major global initiatives.  —Photograph by Joseph Kerski.

On Geospatial Information and the Sustainable Development Goals

August 28, 2016 5 comments

In a white paper entitled Transforming Our World:  Geospatial Information Key to Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentDigitalGlobe and Geospatial Media and Communications tie the need for geospatial data to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

On related topics, we have written about the UN resolution on geospatial data, and the UN Future Trends in geospatial information management, and in our book we wrote about the 8 Millennium Development Goals adopted by UN member states.  The white paper brings together some key connections between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and GIS.  The 17 goals include–no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation, and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water, life on land, peace and justice/strong institutions, and partnerships to achieve the goals. The 17 SDGs and the 169 associated targets seek to achieve sustainable development balanced in three dimensions–economic, social, and environmental.  The article focuses on a topic that is central to this blog and our book--the need for data, specifically geospatial data, to monitor progress in meeting these goals but also to enable those goals to be achieved.

The report ties the success of the SDGs to the availability of geospatial data.  One finding of the report was that many countries had not implemented any sort of open data initiatives or portals, which is an issue we have discussed here and in our book.  The main focus of the report is to identify ways that countries and organizations can work on addressing the data gap, such as creating new data avenues, open access, mainstreaming Earth observation, expanding capacities, collaborations and partnerships, and making NSDIs (National Spatial Data Infrastructures) relevant.  For more information on the authors of the paper, see this press release by Geospatial World.

I especially like the report because it doesn’t just rest upon past achievements of the geospatial community to make its data holdings available to decision makers   To be sure, there have been many achievements.  But one thing we have been critical of in this blog in our reviews of some data portals is that many sound fine in press releases, but when a data user actually tries to use them, there are many significant challenges, including site sluggishness, limited data formats and insufficient resolution, and the lack of metadata about field names, to name a few.  The report also doesn’t mince words–there have been advancements, but the advancements are not coming fast enough for the decisions that need to be made.

The report’s main message is that the lack of available geospatial data is not just a challenge to people in the geospatial industry doing their everyday work, but that the lack of available geospatial data will hinder the achievement of the SDGs if not addressed fully and soon.

sdg_doc

White paper connecting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to geospatial information, from DigitalGlobe and Geospatial Media and Communications.