GEO and UN-Habitat open call for expressions of interest to support sustainable urban development

The Group of Earth Observations (GEO) and the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) have opened a call for expression of interest for the “Earth Observation Toolkit for Sustainable Cities and Communities” programme. This programme aims to support UN Member States in sustainable urban development by creating a customizable and continually updated toolkit that will integrate Earth observation and geospatial data with national statistics, socioeconomic information and other data. Through this project, GEO and UN-Habitat are looking to define needs and data, and provide practical guidance to support urban monitoring, reporting and development at the city, national, regional, and global levels.

The programme will complement the efforts of countries to monitor, report and drive progress on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which aims at “making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, and on the New Urban Agenda (NUA), which promotes urban development through sustained utilization of Earth observation (EO) data and applications. The project will provide a global network, where experts can share methods, good practices, and experiences in geospatial information and EO-integrated SDG efforts. It will demonstrate and provide examples on how countries, cities, and local communities can effectively use EO technologies and cloud computing platforms, with a particular focus on analysis-ready data, open data cubes, training data sets and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques.

The project will cover different areas including monitoring urban expansion and densification, taking stock of open public spaces and their distributions across urban extents, mapping slums, informal settlements and inadequate housing conditions, assessing enviro-climatic conditions and spatial typology as well as urban vulnerabilities, and reducing the adverse per capita environmental impacts of cities, including air quality.

GEO members and interested cities from member countries are invited to contribute to the design and implementation of this toolkit, in accordance with their needs and priorities. A Steering Committee, consisting of members from regionally representative countries, UN-Habitat, EO providers, and representatives of GEO urban-related activities, will be selected and will serve for a period of one year, during which it will meet (in person or virtually) and consult periodically. The participating countries and cities will act as case studies and demonstration pilots to showcase how the toolkit is used to support their monitoring, reporting, and planning activities in relation to SDG 11, the NUA and other, identified urban-related priorities.

Member countries interested in participating in the programme should submit their expressions of interest by 15 May 2020. Their proposals will be evaluated on clearly defined country or city needs and commitment to work on the SDG 11. To learn more about the programme, including assessment criteria, and full details on how to join, please download the Application Form here. For more information about the organizers of the project, visit the Group of Earth Observation and the UN-Habitat webpage.