5thGEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Workshop
Linking the Sustainable Development Goals to
Earth Observations, Models and Capacity Building

December 9-10, 2016, Berkeley, California, USA

Scope | Deadlines | Venue | Logistics | Committees | Participation | Output | Abstracts | Registration | Accommodation | Schedule | Program

Workshop infos
Related Events

Relevant Links and Documents
Interactions of SDGs

Implementation and Monitoring of SDGs

Capacity Building and Transformation

Tools, Platforms, Knowledge

Challenges in Linking SDGs to Data, Models and Capacity Building

The following Challenges have been identified by Program Committee members and invited contributors. The challenges provide guidance for the workshop discussion and most of them will be addressed specifically during the sessions.

  • Douglas Cripe/Andiswa Mlisa - Capacity Building: The GEO Capacity Building Portal (GEO CAB) exists, yet needs a considerable amount of additional input and polishing (http://www.geocab.org/). Some issues include:

    1. How can the portal be improved and the tools there better exploited, or even connected to the GEO knowledge base?
    2. There should be some type of link to the CAB, enabling people to access resources/capacity building to help achieve national progress on the SDGs.
    3. Related to 2, what capacity building activities are needed to teach people to make informed decisions in relation to the SDGs?
    4. How should capacity building be framed in the context of EO4SDGs (aka GI-18)?
  • Phil Dickerson - Air Quality: Traditional monitoring networks are expensive and often beyond the capacity of developing nations.   Much research has shown that remote sensing data can be used as a good estimate of PM2.5 levels, when fused with available in-situ monitoring. In particular, US EPA’s AirNow Satellite Data Processor (ASDP) uses a daily composite of MODIS from Aqua and Terra, fused with in-situ observations, to create a daily nationwide PM2.5 surface.

    ASDP was completed under a NASA ROSES project that ended in 2013. Since that time, small sensor packages have appeared and are rapidly being adopted by researchers and communities to make short term measurements with highly portable, relatively inexpensive equipment.

    Given the availability of small sensors, and the growing body of research on fusion of remote sensing and in-situ data, the challenge remains to integrate all those measurement sources to better characterize PM2.5. A particularly intriguing aspect of this challenge is the very different time scales of these measurements – ranging from one minute for small sensors, to as much as 24 hours for satellite measurements.  

    This challenge relates directly to SDG 3, Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being, and the associated Target 3.9: Substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination. Better characterization of short term PM2.5 exposure allows citizens to plan activities to minimize exposure during the highest hours. Indicator 3.9.1: Mortality rate attributed to household and ambient air pollution, also applies, as mortality may be reduced.

    Goal 11:  Make cities & human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, Target 11.6: Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, and associated Indicator 11.6.2: Annual mean level of PM 2.5 & PM 10; also applies to this challenge. More comprehensive characterization of PM2.5 concentrations, at smaller time scales and with greater spatial coverage, allows a better estimate of actual exposure to individuals.

    While a great deal of research is available on human exposure to PM2.5 and resulting morbidity and mortality, there is a potential gap internationally in terms of ambient concentrations, short term exposures, and mitigative actions. The best possible data and estimates regarding PM2.5 concentrations in near-real-time can lead to greater public awareness, as well as driving forecast programs that may allow citizens to reduce overall exposure.

  • Argyro Kavvada -Capacity Building and Networking: One big challenge for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 is to build capacity and transfer knowledge in a more comprehensive and inclusive way, in which all stakeholders participate (e.g., in-line ministries, national statistical offices, local governments, NGOs, private sector, and civil society etc.). How can we connect international efforts in a more coordinated manner to regional and country-level efforts to facilitate knowledge sharing and avoid overlap? Additionally, how can we work to help harmonize and share the work completed by different country institutions to enable inter-sectorial coordination and support existing, and emerging, national SDG monitoring and reporting platforms? How can capacity building activities help foster national ownership of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

  • Stefano Nativi - Knowledge Base: What is the role of GEOSS Knowledge Base in the GCI Evolution? GCI is required to evolve and move from a data sharing infrastructure to an information and knowledge sharing platform: this will require to support new types of resources (e.g. workflows, models, knowledge bodies) in order to better and further understand and connect shared datasets. What of these components and capabilities might or should be managed by the GEOSS Knowledge Base? What should be the process to collect and manage them? How the Knowledge Base should contribute to the GCI evolvement?

  • Jay Pearlman - Interoperability: A major challenge comes from the fact that SDG goals are inter-related. And the relations lead to the complexity that addressing one goal alone may not created balanced and sustainable solutions. For example oceans (SDG 14) impact food, energy, climate, health and the general welfare of humanity. Understanding these relations is the first part of the challenge. The second part is that each of the SDGs has its own information demands with the resulting information have different formats and language. Many times the information may even be stove-piped and support solution of one SDG. For a knowledge-base to address multiple SDGs, a new level of interoperability is necessary - one that is technical, social and cultural. Identifying informaiton required and the process to make it readily accessible and understandable is a major challenge.

    Process output: Process outputs from the workshop may be as important as end outputs: Thus the process to get interdisciplinary cooperations to develop metrics and monitoring is as much a challenge as the definition of the metric. Thus we need to understand if a process involves sociotechnical models which may not exist but could be synthesized from existing models. The SDGs are a balance of competing interests at a national, regional or even local levels (e.g.coal mining in parts of Wyoming). I see economic science in the agenda. Is political science also in the mix?

  • Hans-Peter Plag - Whole-Society Effort: Achieving the SDGs is an herculean challenge for humanity demanding novel ways in governance and new means to connect the policy makers to knowledge and evidence. Many of the 17 goals address problems that humanity has been dealing with for decades, centuries and, in some cases, millenniums. Having less than 15 years to reach the goals makes the Agenda 2030 an onerous one. Many aspects of the current trajectory of society embedded in the Earth's life-support system are pointing away for the SDGs, not towards them. Unparalleled interventions are need to change the trajectory and point it towards the SDGs. Progress towards the SGDs is not something some governments can achieve or facilitate, it requires a whole-society effort with the leading players in each sector being involved and taking responsibility. Science and Earth observations can play crucial roles but only if they are integrated into the whole-society effort. What is needed to facilitate this? How can we link those engaged in developing policies, regulations, practices, and other means for the implementation of the SDGs to the knowledge they need, knowledge that tells them what would work, keeps them informed about what others are doing, provides a comprehensive picture of what is working, helps them to compare their own successes to those of others, and identifies new challenges that arise along the way? What role could GEO play in facilitating this link?

  • Giovanni Rum - Collaborative Platform: There is abundance not only of knowledge (somehow scattered in different communities) but also of platforms/frameworks being developed to provide the actual “place” where all these different communities + “decision-makers” could meet and jointly agree what is needed and what to develop. A challenge will be to give to the collaborative platform we want to develop a clear connotation and also clear linkages/interfaces with other initiatives having similar objectives. (I’m making a rather sound assumption that several platforms will operate and coexist)

    From a general perspective, if this will be a GEO platform, EO should clearly be the reference; in a way, we would invite other communities to work together with the GEO Community to develop those models that would allow bringing in EO derived information into decision/policy making processes. From one side this is OK, because the EOs are probably the best reference to frame other information (clearly defining the what, the where and the when).

    What will this platform deliver? “Generic” information? Specific services? (Projections. Simulations, what if scenarios – like the tool developed by the Millennium Institute-, just a place to exchange best practices? )

    Who will “produce” the services?

    How do we structure the interaction user-developers-providers, taking into account the need of co-creation but also of the respective roles in an “operational” environment?

    What is(are) the profile(s) of the “users” we assume will be served/interacting? The platform may look very differently.

  • Michel Schouppe - Data Integration and Multiple Scales: Particular challenges of interest relate to the integration of multiple data sources to feed the model web concept; the multiple scale approach of the SDGs from global to local scale (including the disaggregation aspects); User Engagement in a complex international coordination landscape. I like the idea of solutions compendium (proposed under session 6 by Doug). Still, given the wide EO scope of GEO, it would be nice to think in terms of GEOSS solutions compendium instead of space solutions compendium. Last remark: be careful not to fall into an ICT-driven SDG workshop, rather than user-driven SDG workshop. IT-innovations, collaborative platforms are the necessary means to achieve the SDG aims, not the reverse