The GEO Secretariat seeks a senior consultant to develop data quality standards and revise Good Practice Guidance (SDG Indicator 15.3.1) in support of the GEO Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Initiative


An initiative launched during the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Week 2018 in Kyoto, Japan aims to bring together EO data users, providers and governments to develop quality standards, analytical tools and the capacity needed to strengthen land degradation neutrality (LDN) monitoring and reporting. LDN is enshrined in target 15.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agreed to by Member States as part of the 2030 Agenda.

The GEO LDN Initiative1 established three Working Groups (WGs) to kick-start its efforts focusing respectively on: building national capacities (WG-1); developing data quality standards and protocols (WG-2); and establishing platforms with high computing capacities for big data analytics, such as open data cubes (WG-3).

A senior consultant is being recruited to support WG-2 to develop “minimum” data quality standards and specifications for the underlying data, methodology/algorithms, data products and tools used for estimating changes in the three sub-indicators (land cover, land productivity, and soil organic carbon) used to calculate SDG indicator 15.3.1 (proportion of land that is degraded over total land area)2 which is being used to measure progress made towards achieving SDG target 15.3.

Main Responsibilities and Deliverables

  1. In consultation with experts for each of the 15.3.1 sub-indicators, review existing EO data quality standards for assessing SDG 15.3.1 (including sub-indicators) and LDN generally to ensure recent developments are represented in the final document.
  2. Ensure coherence with existing similar processes, e.g. the Quality Assurance for Earth Observation (QA4EO) initiative, which has produced a number of guidelines that have been adopted as GEOSS best practice documents, or the Global Forest Observation Initiative’s (GFOI) Methods and Guidance Documentation component, which has produced the REDD Compass4 including modules likes “uncertainty”.  
  3. For soil organic carbon particularly, ensure coherence and close cooperation with relevant institutions, especially FAO Global Soil Partnership and its existing and proposed data quality standards and guidelines as well as with UNCCD’s Science Policy Interface and its approach on decision trees, and guidelines being developed by the LDN Fund.
  4. Develop, organize, facilitate, analyse and codify the results of a phased, global expert consultation (online and in-person) to identify data quality standards for the sub-indicators taking into account the requirements of:
    1. Data providers5, and
    2. End-users at national6 and sub-national7 level.
  5. Based on the above develop, refine and elaborate these standards to produce Version 2.0 of the Good Practice Guidance (GPG) for SDG indicator 15.3.18. This includes:
    1. The specification of data quality standards and related requirements,
    2. Practical decision trees for each of the SDG 15.3.1 sub-indicators to guide countries in selecting datasets that meet their specific needs, including how to negotiate trade-offs between global comparability and national usability for planning and decision-making processes, data acquisition and analysis cost, and
    3. Providing expertise on practical issues which vary with respect to context (e.g., higher resolution data requirements of small island countries as well as high variability terrain, such as mountain regions) and the trade-offs among user requirements (e.g., higher resolution data may require higher positional accuracy during field validation, which may also influence capacity building requirements).


  1. Familiarity with the concept of land degradation, in particular SDG indicator 15.3.1 and its sub-indicators for land cover, land productivity, and carbon stocks (soil organic carbon).
  2. Higher degree in Remote Sensing, Data Analysis, Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources Management or related fields.
  3. Experience in the use of Earth observation data (remotely-sensed and in-situ) in monitoring essential variables related to land status and condition.
  4. Excellent understanding of EO data quality standards and related issues.
  5. Excellent English communication skills, oral and written.
  6. Proven track record of similar consultancy work.

Contractual Terms

The consultancy will be for 6 months (full time) starting on 1 December 2019. The consultant will be paid in quarterly instalments upon satisfactory completion of expected milestones. The final payment will be made upon the satisfactory delivery of final documents.
The applicant will work from his/her current domicile and must be available for conference calls involving members from around the world. Travel expenses will be compensated separately from the contract.

Submission of Application

Applications, consisting of a detailed cover letter (with three references and expectation for remuneration) and full CV (including list of publications and work experience), should be submitted to Douglas Cripe (

The deadline for applications is Monday, 28 October 2019. Please write “GEO LDN WG2 consultancy” in the subject line. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Date of Issuance: 03 October 2019

5 including providers of raw data and value adding entities that create data products and tools, e.g., companies, institutions, and services.
6 e.g., reporting agencies for UNCCD and SDG 15.3.1, ministries of statistics, planning, development, finance, agriculture, and environment.
7 e.g., local administrations, municipal land use planning authorities, project managers.