WaPOR and EOSTAT selected to receive the 2023 GEO SDG Award in recognition of their groundbreaking contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals


WaPOR and EOSTAT selected to receive the 2023 GEO SDG Award in recognition of their groundbreaking contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

The Group on Earth Observations and the Earth Observations for Sustainable Development Goals (EO4SDG) Initiative announced the winners of the 2023 GEO SDG Awards and FAO will receive two awards recognizing the productivity, innovation, novelty and exemplary efforts in the use of Earth observations to support sustainable development.

After a careful evaluation by a panel of eight unique experts representing diverse countries and sectors, based on the overall impact, quality, and soundness of the Earth observation endeavors, and its potential for replication and upscaling, two of FAO's groundbreaking projects have been selected to win: WaPOR and EOSTAT

Launched in 2017, WaPOR is a publicly accessible near real-time database using satellite data to monitor agricultural water productivity at various scales. Since its inception, WaPOR has been providing near-real time data covering Africa and the Near East, and it has recently been expanded to encompass the entire globe. In addition to data production and dissemination, FAO, in collaboration with IHE Delft and IWMI, is actively assisting user groups in target countries in enhancing their capacity to utilize the data and create customized applications to meet the diverse needs of users, ranging from governments to service providers and farmers worldwide.

Moreover, WaPOR holds significant relevance in reporting on SDG 6.4.1, focusing on water-use efficiency, with FAO acting as the custodian agency. All data, methodologies, algorithms, and scripts are made openly available, and the data is also disseminated through APIs to facilitate seamless integration into existing platforms, tools, or applications.

Developed by the Bureau of Statistics of Lesotho and the FAO Office of Lesotho, EOSTAT is a solution that allows for on-the-fly computation of the SDG indicator 15.4.2  of the mountain green cover index (MGCI) at the national level, and disaggregated by elevation zones, using 10m resolution Sentinel-2 land cover data. Prior to its implementation, there were no mechanisms in place to update the existing national LC baseline from 2015, which made reporting on SDG 15.4.2 unattainable.

In this context, this robust EO-based solution has been a game changer, as it satisfies a multitude of reporting tasks through national land cover and land cover change statistics. This allows for significant cost savings on field survey activities, and for pertinent data gaps to be filled with ensured accuracy, timeliness, and granularity. Thanks to the big data infrastructure underpinning the solution, it was possible to integrate the Land Cover and SDG modules with specific ecosystem health indicators, simplifying the process to monitor ecosystem status in any area in the country at any time.

EOSTAT is currently used by the National Meteorological Services to identify hotspots of vegetation degradation, monitor the impact of land restoration projects, and assess the impact of climate change on the status of ecosystems. The Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation also uses the tool to monitor the health of rangelands in real-time. This partnership with the national FAO office on the EOSTAT platform increased Lesotho’s national capacity to produce SDG indicators and fostered new possibilities for monitoring national ecosystem health and ecosystem services.

The Award Ceremony will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, on 8 November 2023 at GEO Week. This prestigious award recognizes FAO's projects for their exemplary contribution to advancing sustainable agriculture and water resource management, and underscores the vital role that innovative applications of Earth observation play in addressing the world's most pressing challenges.

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