Earth observations (EO) and its associated technologies currently play an important role in contributing to the generation of relevant information to support informed decision‐making regarding risk and vulnerability reduction and to address the underlying factors of disaster risk (UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015, Sendai, Japan). Moreover, it is a technology being increasingly demanded and used within International Financing Institution´s (IFI’s) operations. However, after conducting missions in more than 25 countries in Asia, the Pacific region, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nation´s platform facilitating the use of space-based technologies for disaster management and emergency response (UN-SPIDER) found that the use of Earth observations and Space‐based technologies in DRR is still weak as compared to its potential.
ESA´s funded EO4SD Disaster Risk Reduction project aims at promoting the integration of EO-based methodologies into the general working processes of IFIs funded projects that are focused on mitigating the adverse impacts of natural hazards in developing countries. The main objective of the project is to carry out convincing demonstrations on the benefit and utility of EO-based information to advance the status of the adoption, transfer and mainstreaming of these services as a standard management support tool within IFIs and their Client States.
During the period 2019-2021, EO4SD-DRR had run 11 demonstration exercises providing 41 EO-based services in support of several IFI projects and programmes. The IFIs supported were World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the Development Bank of Latin America. This work raised significant interest to take the collaboration further with more strategic activities in several key thematic domains of disaster risk reduction (City resilience, reconstruction, small islands resilience, geospatial tools, DRR for infrastructures and DRR in agriculture). Several mature EO-based products and services for DRR have been identified as ready to be integrated into IFIs working practices. More than 50% of the services proved to successfully address declared user needs in the domain of Geohazards (terrain deformation analyses, landslide susceptibilities, building instabilities and damage and reconstruction assessments between others) , 20% in the domain of Hydrometeorological hazards and 20% looked at assets exposed and reference information about pre-disaster conditions.
In eDrift (Earth observation for Disaster Risk Financing – edrift.cimafoundation.org), a parallel ESA funded project, the potential of satellite information to support Disaster Risk Financing (DRF) specific services was demonstrated and put in operation in the context of the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility (SEADRIF – seadrif.org).
In order to achieve a successful mainstreaming, a series of key factors must be considered. Users have mostly been interested in information that can be actionable for decision-making, providing a holistic vision of risk. Moreover, entry-level products that the user can directly utilise to generate their own data and analyses have already been provided in a commercial environment as a direct outcome of the project. The service delivery infrastructure is considered essential to support both the service generation and the service delivery. Moreover, further capacity building activities have often been requested by users and stakeholders. Finally, from the original portfolio, the cluster has also identified several constraints that must be tackled to ensure a correct fit of the technology with the existing user needs.
Building on EO4SD-DRR experiences, ESA´s long-term objective remains to mainstream and operationalise the use of EO-based information for international development projects and activities in partnership with IFIs with the goal of transferring into sustainable financing mechanisms. To achieve this objective, ESA, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have partnered on a new initiative called ‘Space in support of International Development Assistance (SpaceforIDA)’ and have set up a new programme, Global Development Assistance (GDA).
In the Disaster Resilience domain, ESA´s GDA programme focuses on hazard, exposure, vulnerability and risk mapping knowledge development through the generation of new pre-operational technical products and services (EO Information Developments) in direct response to user requirements in developing countries. Developments are planned to enhance Earth observation products concerning both hazards and related risks from a very strict demand driven approach, understanding that the project will only be able to reach its mainstreaming objectives, if focused on satisfying declared key user demands.
The EO Information Developments are based on EO4SD-DRR conclusions on the areas that caught most attention within users and stakeholders. Therefore, the project will address hazards such as floods in urban context, landslides and subsidence in urban regions, surface motion, land use/land cover maps and geo-hazard risks in coastal regions, either individually or in multi-hazard assessments. The developed services will be serving different purposes and will support programs active in the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and DRF domains. In doing so, the project will try and reach a good balance between specific bespoke services and the generation of entry-level platform-based products that can be produced swiftly, even without intervention of the service provider and applied on different scenarios.
This communication aims at highlighting the observed impact and benefit of EO-based products and services in the context of development assistance based on successful use cases demonstrated within the course of EO4SD-DRR and eDrift activities. Moreover, an introduction to future activities to be carried out under the new ESA´s GDA Disaster Resilience will be provided.