South Africa And Uganda Win Big At GEO Week 2019

The GEO Week 2019 and the GEO Ministerial Summit in ongoing in Canberra, Australia where member governments, business leaders, heads of international non-profits and passionate experts are meeting to explore how the integration of Earth observation data into our digital economies is key to driving progress on the big three global policy frameworks: the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

At a special awards ceremony during the event, the spotlight shone on outstanding individuals, organizations and countries that are making exceptional contributions to GEO and the global Earth observations community. During the lavish GEO Week Gala Dinner hosted by the Government of Australia, prizes were offered in three separate categories, including Citizen Science Awards, the GEO Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Awards, and the GEO Individual Excellence Awards.

South Africa (South African National Space Agency (SANSA)) won the 2019 GEO SDG Award for the thematic category, Testimonial/ Story while Uganda won the 2019 GEO SDG Award for the sectoral category, Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Member Country.

Recognizing South Africa’s efforts to work with the National Statistics Office, the Ministry of Human Settlements, and UN-Habitat to produce Earth observation data for indicator 11.3.1 (land consumption) for South African cities while also identifying local needs which are directly tied to this indicator. This represents a great example of multi-stakeholder engagement, which also highlights how country experiences can help better integrate local needs into the global SDG processes and shape the production of more relevant methodologies and datasets.

The SANSA Team Receiving Their Award. Image Credit: @KrbJones

Uganda has made remarkable efforts to apply Earth observation data to the development of early warnings for crop failure and to inform disaster risk financing strategies. Integrating EO into several government ministries, Uganda is setting an example for using Earth observations for better policymaking.

Also, Catherine Nakalembe, the head of NASA Harvest Eastern Africa-Hub + Mali was awarded the GEO Individual Excellence Award for being a champion for food security. Catherine has been a driving force behind GEO’s food security initiatives. Her work has saved lives and improved livelihoods while reducing the costs of food security emergency response in East African nations.

Catherine receiving her award. image Credit: Dan Irwin

She leads NASA Harvest Eastern Africa-Hub + Mali activities alongside capacity building in the use of Earth Observations (EO) data for agriculture monitoring in support of food security in GEOGLAM. She has worked with national ministries of agriculture in Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and regional agencies ICPAC and RCMRD. Throughout all of her work, she has embraced the GEO values of open sharing of knowledge and co-development, putting trusted and authoritative information in the hands of decision-makers. This effort translates to proactive policies and programmes that save lives, and her extraordinary commitment to this mission is an inspiration to the entire GEO community.

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is an intergovernmental partnership of 105 Member governments, 127 Participating Organizations and thousands of passionate individuals and businesses that improve the availability, access and use of Earth observations for a more sustainable planet.

GEO promotes open, coordinated and sustained data sharing and infrastructure for better research, policymaking, decisions and action across many disciplines. The GEO community focuses on three global priority engagement areas: the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

GEO provides a unique forum where governments, businesses, the research community, non-profits and all other groups come together to create solutions, share, and cooperate.