Geospatial information for sustainable food systems

Analyzing time series climate data for climate-proofing sustainable agriculture future scenarios in Lao PDR

There has never been a more urgent need to restore damaged ecosystems than now. About 60% of the global ecosystem services have been degraded during the last 50 years. Restoring ecosystems is crucial for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations (UN) General Assembly (New York) declared 2021–2030 the “UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.” 

In this context, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have been tasked to lead the implementation of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aligns with the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals 2021-2030.

FAO and its partners are providing technical support to countries and stakeholders to plan, implement and monitor restoration efforts. In this context, FAO has been developing, based on the latest Good Practice Guidance for SDG indicator 15.3.1 (proportion of land that is degraded over total land area) and SEPAL cloud-computing and satellite image processing platform, an online module on the SEPAL platform to provide high spatial and temporal resolution information to track SDG 15.3.1. The tool allows customized user-specific applications and the preparation of local-to-national scale geospatial SDG indicators.

The interface of the module is simple and intuitive. However, proper interpretation of the result and understanding of the core approach are prerequisites. In this context, a “Technical training on the use of the SEPAL platform for preparing a local-to-national SDG indicator 15.3.1” was conducted by FAO, as a part of series of training and ongoing efforts to strengthen capacities, and improve the organizational data management policy of relevant government agencies of Bangladesh, for effective data access and the tracking of SDG 15 indicators for decision makers (TCP/BGD/3710/C5). 

A total of seventeen participants (5 female, 12 male) from eleven government institutions attended the three-day online training program from 6 to 8 April, 2021. The training included theoretical and practical presentations, question-and-answer sessions, as well as hands-on practices. Open discussions, polls and a final evaluation of the training were also conducted. Thirty-eight areas of interest for ecosystem restoration monitoring were identified by the participants.

While participants benefited from the platform to obtain results and maps, they can be further improved in the future with better consideration and availability of local and national datasets. This training was the first of its kind to use high resolution data to assess SDG indicator 15.3.1 at local level and is expected to be further developed to strengthen capacities for better ecosystem and SDG monitoring as well as contributing to national priorities and evidence-based decision making.