GI/EO for Sustainable Environment

GI/EO for Sustainable Environment

In 2007, Kevin Wall and former US vice-president Al Gore founded the Live Earth concerts to raise environmental awareness. In January 2015, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, they announced the Live Earth 2015 global festival on 18 June on all continents with the goal of gathering one billion voices to take climate action, urging world leaders to adopt a new climate accord at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015.

The call to action ( is supported by many countries. President János Áder of Hungary announced in January 2015 the new Directorate of Sustainable Environment, with Csaba Kőrösi as director. The former Hungarian ambassador to the UN was co-chair with the Kenyan Eskinder Debebe of the Working Group that elaborated the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2016-2030. The Hungarian president joined the Live Earth initiative on 5 May by launching an awareness campaign ( involving the Association of Cities with County Rank, the mayor of Budapest and civil societies.

The call to action was disseminated on the blog of HUNAGI, the Hungarian GI (Geographic Information) Association, on 26 May ( Al Gore’s 1998 Digital Earth Vision is now embraced by the International Society for Digital Earth (, with which HUNAGI has been formally linked since 2003. The vision has been re-evaluated by an expert ISDE group and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and in the International Journal of Digital Earth as the ‘Next-generation Digital Earth Vision to 2020’. HUNAGI participated in the ISDE’s Big Data track of the ICSU Codata Conference on ‘Open Data and Information for a Changing Planet’ in Taipei, Taiwan, in 2012 and at the UNESCO Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Nagoya, Japan, 2014. In July 2015 the kick-off meeting of the ISDE European Chapter is taking place in Italy, at the EC’s DG Joint Research Centre.

Sustainable development needs spatial data infrastructures from local to global, in which GI and related technologies and services, including Earth observation (EO), play a vital role. The Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) Association supports the inter-governmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in contributing to the implementation of GEOSS – the Global Earth Observation System of Systems – and was involved in the recent GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Workshops and the EU BYTE Project brainstorming on ‘Big Data in Environment’. GSDI also contributed to the 39th CEOS WGISS Meeting hosted by Jaxa in Japan, sharing information on recent GSDI activities in marine/coastal spatial data infrastructure (SDI) best practice in support of the IHO Marine SDI Working Group. At the WGISS meeting, Geoscience Australia and NASA introduced the Australian and Kenyan Data Cube projects. The GSDI/HUNAGI representative proposed an ESA pilot in a selected part of the Danube region focused on multi-country environment with exploitation of historical EO and other GI allowing retrospective analysis to support future decision-making. The initiative, which was received with interest at HUNAGI and EUROGI board meetings, and the expert of Danube-Net of the DG JRC Danube Reference Data Service project will be drafted for presentation to ESA ESRIN.

HUNAGI’s membership in EUROGI provides opportunities for insight into sustainable development-related actions on global and regional levels, such as the NASA World Wind Europa Challenge Award at the FOSS4G Europe conference in Como, Italy, in July. The best apps from students, professionals and SMEs will be highlighted. As NASA project manager Patrick Hogan wrote: “The world dearly needs a common platform for sharing data about our world, a world that is increasingly under threat from lack of sustainability.” (see

Dr Gábor Remetey-Fülöpp, Past secretary-general, HUNAGI

This Insider's View column was published in the July 2015 issue of GIM International.

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