4 NOVEMBER, NEW YORK—Recipients of the Group on Earth Observations Sustainable Development Goals (GEO SDG) Awards 2020 were announced this morning, and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data received the 2020 GEO SDG Award for “Participating Organization.”

The award recognizes the Global Partnership’s application of Earth observation technologies in developing the Africa Regional Data Cube (ARDC), alongside global partners and officials from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Senegal.

Through collaborative initiatives, ARDC helped catalyze planning that would better mitigate various sustainable development challenges. For Ghana’s Weija reservoir, ARDC developed an algorithm to track and analyze water quality and advanced efforts to improve universal access to clean water. In Sierra Leone, time series satellite data mapped the extent and impact of coastal erosion and human activity on threatened mangrove ecosystems. To conserve and restore terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, ARDC helped assess deforestation in Kenya’s Mau Forest, monitor crop phenology in Senegal, and address flooding in Tanzania.

United Nations Foundation Senior Africa Regional Manager, Victor Ohuruogu, accepted the award. “Before 2015, I don’t think many statistical offices could imagine how satellite data could be democratized,” said Ohuruogu. Notably, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, Amazon Web Services, the Government of Kenya, and Strathmore University provided expertise and guidance that were pivotal to the development of ARDC.

Additionally, the Global Partnership worked closely with representatives of participating countries, including Yeama Thompson of Sierra Leone, Omar Seidu of Ghana, Benedict Mugambi of Tanzania, Mwalim Muhamed of Zanzibar, and Dr. Ibrahima Hathie of Senegal.

With the success of ARDC in establishing infrastructures that enable open data and exploring the possibilities of satellite technology, ARDC will expand its impact from six African states to the entire continent. Under the leadership of Dr. Adam Lewis, Dr. Ken Mubea, Aditya Agrawal, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, among many others, ARDC finds a new chapter as Digital Earth Africa.

As multilateral collaboration and innovation continue at an elevated scale, Digital Earth Africa will use Earth observation data to address social, environmental, and economic changes and promote the production, sharing, and use of better data in Africa.