The use of satellite Earth Observation (EO) at the World Bank is growing along with the innovation angle in addressing development challenges. A recent overview of the use of Earth Observation as a tool for sustainable development highlighted the need to think more strategically about the future coordination of different activities in this area. The goal is to increase the awareness about the benefits of EO-based assessments to improve the effectiveness of Bank investments in the client countries.
A number of partnerships were set up to bring in the benefits of EO - or remote sensing - to the existing operations. U.S. space agencies support the World Bank in addressing water resources management challenges in the Middle East. The European Space Agency provided specialized information services to the World Bank teams working in disaster risk management, water, urban development, climate change, coastal zone monitoring, forestry, and agriculture in Africa, Latin America, East Asia and the Pacific, and South Asia. Japanese ALOS satellite data provided by the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) were used in the Latin America and Caribbean region under a climate adaptation project in Colombia, Mexico, and the Andes region of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
The process of coordination of current and future EO activities at the Bank is taking place through a dedicated knowledge-sharing platform-Earth Observation for Development. The purpose is to increase data sharing across the Bank, support the exchange of knowledge concerning available datasets, and specialized Earth Observation information services (EOS).
The creation of a “helpdesk,” or a one-stop-shop, to increase the use of satellite Earth Observation in Bank's development projects, and in monitoring development outcomes is underway. The World Bank's growing role is also in mainstreaming EO technology and applications directly to client countries is in line with the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) policy objectives. This involves supporting national technical capacity-building and training in geospatial and remote sensing technologies, as well as developing tools for regional integration while addressing transboundary environmental issues, such as integrated water resources management, or coastal zones management.
The consolidation of geospatial information at the Bank is accompanied by recently launched GeoWB data portal which serves as a centralized depository of GIS data.