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Human Planet Initiative

 
Activity ID: 51

Overview

The GHS initiative builds upon the positive experience of the new Global Human Settlement Working Group (GHS WG) that was launched at the first Global Human Settlement Workshop hosted by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre, on 21-22 October 2014.  A Manifesto for a Global Human Settlement Partnership was agreed among the partners and made the first nucleus of the group still under evolution. At the date of the last census (June 2015), the group included ~40 registered research teams (accounting >120 individual researchers) working in governmental and international organization, NGO, academic, and private firms. The GHSL applications (so far) include: damage and reconstruction assessment, impact assessment, disaster early warning and alerting, losses estimates, exposure and risk mapping and post-disaster need assessment (PDNA), population spatial modeling, census planning, regional development and planning, transport planning, urban and global climate modeling, spatial epidemics analysis, ecological studies, environmental protection, agricultural fragmentation studies, and historical landscape protection.

The GHS WG was originally initialized in support the GEO task SB-04-C1: “Global Urban Observation and Information” as contribution to the task  (1) Conduct global urban analyses, including time-series for assessing mega-cities development (e.g. urban sprawl) and a world-wide inventory of human settlements based on satellite data. In the subsequent months, the GHS group evolved far from the original setup of the GEO-SB-04 task, which was made by remote sensing specialists engaged in extracting primary information products from remotely sensed data. The new community is mostly made by policy makers and political communities involved in the post-2015 frameworks, and scientists already providing support to the international negotiation processes in the specific domains: consequently the technical focus has moved from accuracy of the remote-sensing information extraction and inventory to fitness-for-purpose of various-spatial-sources information integration in support to specific policy goals. In the new perspective remote sensing is only one of the various relevant sources used for designing the indicators*, the “urban” category (belonging to urban/rural dichotomy) as goal of the remote sensing data analysis is abandoned in favor of a continuous human settlement conceptualization, and the information extracted from remote sensing and integrated in the indicators goes beyond the classical boundaries of “urban” remote sensing applications.

In the above frame, it is considered the option to create a specific GEO initiative in the draft GEO Transitional Work Programme 2016, making visible the activities of the GHS group and facilitating the evolution toward operational services that may be set up by some of the partners (tbd). In particular, the EC will support with specific programs the pre-operational phase of the GHS baseline production and yearly update using Sentinel 10m-resolution satellite data input in the perspective of a new operational Copernicus service activated in 2018+.

The scope of the GHS initiative is to develop and assess the fitness-for-purpose of a new generation of measurements and spatial statistics products in support to post-2015 international processes on sustainable and urban development, climate change and disaster risk reduction. Sustainable Development Goals are accompanied by targets and will be further elaborated through indicators focused on measurable outcomes. These indicators are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable. Moreover, in order to monitor the implementation of the SDGs, it will be important to improve the availability and access to data and statistics to ensure that no one is left behind in the information gaps. The GHS initiative uses a globally -consistent and universally applicable methodology, making the GHS the right platform for testing of alternative options in operationalization of the SDG indicators, particularly those related to Goal 11 on cities. Furthermore, the free and open data policy access of the GHSL information will greatly contribute to fill the information gaps at local national and international levels.

In particular, the GHS initiative shall test the production and the use of new global human settlement information products derived by the integration of multi-disciplinary data, namely global remote sensing, environmental, population and socio-economic. The scope is global and multi-disciplinary, with a particular emphasis on the generation of new global fine-scale information products made available through advances in remote sensing technology and open public data access policies. In the frame of the initiative, are considered strategic global and multi-temporal thematic information (land cover) products with a spatial resolution <= 50 meters and open and free data access policy. The free and open data access will ensure that GHS derived indicators will be produced also in low-income countries where no census data is available.

In principle, Global Human Settlement information can support all the spatial metrics and indicators related to population and settlements: consequently modelling access (to services, market, industrial infrastructure, food, water, land), exposure (to natural disaster), or impact (ecosystem, water, land degradation).  Access, exposure and impact spatial measurements are embedded in several goals and targets under discussion in the post-2015 frameworks. The new GHS initiative is committed in developing a new generation of measurements and information products that provide new scientific evidence and a comprehensive understanding and that can support global policy processes with agreed, actionable and goal-driven metrics. In particular, the GHS initiative is committed to support the following processes: the UN Third Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III, 2016), the post-2015 framework on sustainable development goals (SDGs), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (http://newsroom.unfccc.int/ & http://www.un.org/climatechange/), and the Hyogo framework for disaster risk reduction.

Point of contact

Martino Pesaresi, EC/JRC martino.pesaresi@jrc.ec.europa.eu

2016 Activities

Oct 2016 - Side event UN Habitat III Quito, including public release of the Landsat GHS baseline (epochs 1975-1990-2000-2014) integrated with other available (open and free) satellite derived products and spatial baseline data in an initial set of SDG indicators proposal database. EC will announce the commitment to sustain the GHS baseline production and updates with Sentinel data. Coordinated with a GHS workshop.

Specifically, during 2016 the following products are planned in collaboration with the partners

  • Public release of the GHS baseline on population and settlements. Built-up areas are extracted from Landsat satellite data collections in the epochs 1975-1990-2000-2014 integrated with various other open and free available spatial sources.  Totals resident population grids at corresponding epochs are estimated from the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) and other data in collaboration with CIESIN.
  • First public release of the population and settlements statistics and derived spatial indicators aggregated at national and sub-national administrative levels.

A prototype of web platform for testing of alternative options in operationalization of the derived indicators and dissemination of information - processing on demand specific spatial indicators and aggregating them on user-defined spatial units.

2016 Resources

The GHS initiative is based on in-kind support of the participating organizations interested in the development or early testing of the indicators and integration in their modeling and analytical platforms. The participating organizations are already financed by their specific programs. The EC Joint Research Center, is chairing the GHS GEO initiative in the initial phase. A specific budget is foreseen in support of the GHS GEO initiative and the support of the Sentinel GHS baseline production and update in the pre-operational phase 2016-2018. After the initial phase (~ 2 years), the chairing of the GHS initiative will be rotated among the partners with a mechanism tbd.

*The indicators under development include various land use and land cover information and physical measurements derived from remote sensing data, combined with statistical counts, crowd sourcing (as OSM and GeoWiki), and social sensing.

Leads/Contributors (this list is being populated)

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GEO Secretariat
7 bis, avenue de la Paix
Case postale 2300
CH-1211 Geneva 2
Switzerland

e-mail: secretariat@geosec.org
phone: +41 22 730 8505
fax: +41 22 730 8520