The recent GEO Week 2023 side workshop, titled “Earth Observations in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals: Opportunities and Challenges” brought together experts to explore the role of Earth observations and geospatial data in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we approach the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda, the workshop emphasized the significance of partnerships, highlighted innovative initiatives, and showcased practical tools driving progress toward the SDGs.

Partnerships and Copernicus Ecosystem

A key highlight of the workshop was the emphasis on partnerships, particularly those leveraging the Copernicus ecosystem to enhance SDGs. SDGs-EYES, a groundbreaking initiative, took the spotlight by presenting Europe’s efforts to track six SDG indicators using Copernicus data. Spearheaded by EARSC, this initiative showcased collaborative efforts among stakeholders and emphasized strong engagement with target end user communities.

SDGs-EYES Approach

SDGs-EYES addressed critical elements to codesign a service to monitor SDGs taking into account the user characterization, needs assessment, understanding the policy context, and defining actions for user engagement. The initiative aimed to support evidence-driven co-design processes, collect feedback, and identify barriers to uptake, ultimately improving the understanding of stakeholders’ analysis and responding to their needs and requirements.

Collaboration and Practical Tools

The workshop featured practical cases demonstrating collaborations with different groups of stakeholders. Esri showcased its deep learning models tailored for SDG mapping, contributing to a better understanding of interconnected global challenges. The Earth Observation Toolkit for Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements portal emerged as a valuable resource, offering guidance on measuring and monitoring progress in urban areas. The International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS) shared its integration of Earth observation technologies, specifically big data, underscoring the importance of large-scale data analytics for informed decision-making.

Roundtable Discussion and Future Contributions

Following insightful presentations, a roundtable discussion, moderated by the Earth Observations for the Sustainable Development Goals (EO4SDG) Initiative, focused on the pivotal role of Earth observations in achieving the SDGs. Participants reflected on GEO’s future contributions, with a specific inquiry into the user impact of SDGs-EYES. EARSC emphasized the key role of liaison and user uptake, stressing the importance of collaboration, understanding, and nurturing partnerships.

Combining Statistical and Earth Observation Data

The discussion highlighted a shift from solely relying on statistical data to recognizing the importance of geospatial data in achieving global development goals. SDGs-EYES implements a codesign approach, involving listening to user needs and finding solutions collaboratively. The integration of statistical and Earth observation data addresses gaps, enhances data quality, and contributes to improving national statistical systems.

Successful Collaborations and Conclusion

Presentations throughout the workshop showcased successful collaborations among GEO-connected organizations, illustrating the power of shared resources and expertise to address complex challenges. In conclusion, the GEO side event workshop provided a platform for showcasing the latest advancements, partnerships, and tools in Earth observations for sustainable development. These initiatives and collaborative efforts are crucial for accelerating progress towards the SDGs, reflecting a collective determination to harness the power of Earth observations for a more sustainable and equitable future.