GEO advances use of Earth observations for National Adaptation Plans
GEO joined the eighth NAP Expo held in Santiago, Chile, in March 2023 to share and gain insights on how to integrate Earth observation data and solutions into successful climate adaptation planning and implementation.
The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process was created under the Cancun Adaptation Framework and reinforced by the Paris Agreement within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
It is used by countries to identify their medium- and long-term adaptation needs and develop strategies to address them. This process includes analyzing climate risks, consulting with stakeholders, and prioritizing adaptation actions, particularly for vital economic sectors such as agriculture and land use, and disaster management depending on national circumstances. Countries are currently transitioning from NAP planning and formulation to implementation, with adaptation a top priority.
The GEO delegation involved representatives of GEO Members Belize, Ecuador and the United States, as well as GEO initiatives including GEO Blue Planet, GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM), GEO Global Water Sustainability (GEOGloWS), Digital Earth Africa, GEO Mountains, and the regional GEO AmeriGEO.
The NAP Expo 2023 kicked off with an emphasis on data, climate risk analysis and enhanced technical assistance to scale up adaptation, as highlighted by the keynote speech of Dr. Virginia Burkett, U.S. GEO representative and Co-Chair of the GEO Climate Change Working Group, alongside the Minister of Environment of Chile, H.E. Dr. Maisa Rojas, and other high-level speakers.
GEO organised numerous sessions during the week together with regional and global partners such as CSIRO Chile, IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA SERVIR, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The sessions targeted ongoing and upcoming Earth observation activities in the Latin America and the Carribean (LAC) region, as well as technical demonstrations of Earth observation solutions that are freely available to users. For instance, the Ministry of Environment in Ecuador has developed the country’s first NAP involving a strong Earth observation component which enabled sound adaptation planning, as well as it used the GEOGloWS service to implement an early warning system augmenting the forecasting capabilities for floods and droughts of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Institute of Ecuador (INAMHI) in response to the priorities set out in the NAP.
During the plenary, GEO presented the recently launched technical guidance on “Integrating Earth Observations into the Formulation and Implementation of National Adaptation Plans: Agriculture and Food Security” by GEOGLAM. Another dedicated GEO session addressed the need for additional sectoral guidance on coastal adaptation. Top areas where Earth observations are crucial to inform NAPs, according to our poll, include filling knowledge gaps in climate science, monitoring progress of coastal adaptation, and establishing baseline information for coastal areas. Notably, the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) has used Microsoft Azure cloud credits, high-resolution satellite data, and machine learning techniques compounded with field surveys to update the national marine habitat map of Belize. This information led to improved understanding of the status and temporal distribution of ecosystems, bridged existing knowledge gaps regarding coastal zone management, and will be incorporated into the forthcoming NAP for the fisheries sector and coastal areas of Belize.
Another project funded under the GEO-Microsoft Planetary Computer cloud credits programme, the GEO4NAPS project, was presented at the NAP Expo as an example of monitoring, evaluation and learning activity needed to inform the design and implementation of adaptation actions. GEO4NAPS aims to identify core sets of indicators for measuring adaptation progress with Earth observations from space, apply the measurement method to Malawi, and scale up the measurement method to other Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
GEO was also invited to join a session organised by the Adaptation Committee on engaging the private sector to accelerate adaptation planning and implementation. There are multiple ways for the private sector to participate, including generating, providing, and processing pertinent data related to climate observations. Despite some limitations and challenges in engaging with the private sector, collaborations are growing worldwide. Notably, GEO has developed novel partnerships with global technology partners such as Google Earth Engine, Microsoft Planetary Computer, Amazon Web Services, software providers such as Esri, as well as commercial satellite companies such as Planet, to undertake and sustain open and free Earth observation initiatives enabling climate action.
GEO participated at the event alongside nearly 400 experts in climate change adaptation, including government representatives, UN partners, scientists, and private sector actors. This is the second NAP Expo for GEO, following the successful participation in the NAP Expo 2022 in Botswana last year.
GEO’s participation in the NAP Expo was part of ongoing efforts to increase uptake of Earth observation tools and solutions in the NAP process. To date we have seen increased use of geospatial information for adaptation. At the same time there is a huge interest from LDC governments approaching GEO to get support in developing proposals that present innovative Earth observation projects to access climate finance through the Green Climate Fund.
One upcoming funding opportunity to build capacity for NAP planning under the GEO umbrella is the Initiative for Enhancing Capacity for Climate Risk Assessment and Catalyzing Partnerships to Inform Decisions in Latin America and the Caribbean (LACI).
If you are interested in investigating the use of Earth observation information in your country's NAP process, please contact the GEO Secretariat Climate Coordinator, Sara Venturini