Starting with this quote from the UN’s official website about the Sustainable Sustainable Goals (SDGs), it is well understood that SDGs is all about how to better manage our resources for a more prosperous economic and societal future.
Governments, industry, and scientists have long recognized the critical importance of Earth observations as an information source in support of many sectors of society. Earth observations (from satellite, airborne, and in-situ sensors) provide accurate and reliable information on the state of the atmosphere, oceans, coasts, rivers, soil, crops, forests, ecosystems, natural resources, ice, snow and built infrastructure, and their change over time, are directly or indirectly necessary for all functions of government, all economic sectors and almost all day-to-day activities of society. Earth observation programmes represent the largest investment globally in relation to applications of satellites by national governments — typically through their national space agencies — recognizing their capacity to address such critical challenges as climate change, water availability, food security, natural disaster mitigation, safe and secure transport, energy and resources security, agriculture forestry and ecosystems, coasts and oceans, health issues, and national security.
To give you an example of how GIS and Earth Observation support the UN SDGs, we present you the SDG Indicator 15.3.1.
Proportion of land that is degraded over the total land area is a very important metric that is associated with how natural resources are used and how human activities compete over the same area.
The SDG 15.3.1 is divided into three sub-indicators:
- Land cover (ISO standard) – flexible classification system provides compatibility in terms of aggregation/disaggregation, between existing/future monitoring, and can accommodate national circumstances. Here high and medium resolution EO imagery provide the input data to perform the land cover classification.
- Land productivity – well-established methods for the use of vegetation indices (NDVI) to evaluate trends in net primary productivity (NPP) –variety of corrections techniques given national circumstances (rainfall, cloud cover, growing season, and other inter-annual variability, etc.)
- Carbon stocks – IPCC published methodology (IPCC, 2006) for carbon stocks can be employed to estimate the change in stocks based on land cover change or national calculations based on FAO SOC cookbook