Satellite Earth Observations in Support Of The Sustainable Development Goals cover image

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Date of publication: 
March 2018
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The 2030 Agenda marks a milestone in the evolution of society’s efforts to define and manage progress towards sustainable development in all its facets: social inclusion, economic growth and environmental sustainability. The definition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the associated Global Indicator Framework represent the first truly data-driven framework in which countries can engage with the aim of evidence-based decision-making and development policies. The Agenda recognises that ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ and data is the enabler for the 2030 Agenda implementation.

The 2030 Agenda aims to be relevant to all countries, rich and poor, leaving no one behind. The scope and scale of it is such that effective monitoring of progress towards Targets and reporting on Indicators by countries will require substantial modernisation of many national statistical and geospatial systems, as well as the integration and exploitation of many new data sets in pursuit of the monitoring of the hundreds of Targets and associated Indicators.

This report focuses on the role of Earth observations (EO) in making the reporting of countries against the Global Indicator Framework and the monitoring of national progress toward the SDG Targets a practical reality. Specifically we focus on the role of satellite EO and how the spatial and temporal coverage of their data can make the 2030 Agenda monitoring and reporting framework viable, technically and financially. EO satellite data have already proven their value across many sectors of society – supporting the science that underpins strategies for global decision-making – and for monitoring our progress on all geographical scales as we explore new development paths aimed at sustainable management of the planet.

Significant investment has already been made by national governments in the space-based infrastructure that is providing free and open, continuous and consistent EO satellite data streams. These governments and the space agencies that steward these satellites are actively engaged to ensure optimal return on the investment by maximising the societal benefit of the data.

This Handbook has been prepared for national agencies, UN bodies and other SDG stakeholders working towards a collective implementation of the 2030 Agenda and towards a cost-effective response of countries to the SDG monitoring and reporting challenges. It aims to explain how satellite EO are an essential tool in the development of the information and evidence required by many of the SDG Targets and Indicators. The Handbook seeks to improve understanding of readers from all sectors of society as to the role of satellite EO in support of a well-managed planet and society.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
Marc Paganini & Ivan Petiteville (ESA), Stephen Ward, George Dyke, Matthew Steventon & Jennifer Harry (Symbios Spazio), Flora Kerblat (CSIRO)
 European Space Agency logo
Intergovernmental or Multilateral organization

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA is an international organisation with 22 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

What does ESA do?

UN-GGIM logo
United Nations Agency

On 27 July 2016, and following a year-long consultative process on the comprehensive review of the work and operations of the Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a draft resolution (E/2016/L.28) entitled "Strengthening institutional arrangements on geospatial information management".

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