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COP26 Showcases IPP CommonSensing Solution

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The IPP CommonSensing project will feature at two events at this year’s COP26 in Glasgow.

The first, titled “Role of earth observation data and tools for improving flows of climate finance: experiences from Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu” will explore the project’s innovative use of satellite remote-sensing data to support applications to climate finance. Then, as part of a keynote address, the project’s software tools, and its applications will be presented at an event titled “Leveraging the use of geospatial information technology and satellite data for improved climate resilience and disaster risk management” wherein the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and the Executive Director of the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR) Nikhil Seth will also make keynote presentations.

Around a third of the population of Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands live less than 5m above sea level. As the planet warms and sea levels rise, and as extreme weather events increase in their frequency and intensity, land is lost, and communities destroyed. Despite contributing the least to global greenhouse gas emissions, small island nation developing states find themselves on the front-line of climate change.

IPP CommonSensing supports these three nations through the innovative use of satellite remote-sensing data. The project is funded by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP) financed through the BEIS Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), led by the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT), and works with the Commonwealth Secretariat and Satellite Applications Catapult, along with a multi-skilled international consortium.

The space sector is uniquely positioned to aid the planet’s response to climate change; around half of all Essential Climate Variables are measured from space. With data on climate variables, governments can make evidence-based decisions to improve climate preparedness.

IPP CommonSensing has created a software platform and held in-country workshops to train local and governmental organisations. Applications within the software help to improve access to climate finance, reduce disaster risk for natural hazards, enhance food security, and enhance resilience to climate change. At COP26, the platform will be showcased to demonstrate the uses of satellite remote sensing data to assist nations on the frontlines of climate change.

Lucy Edge, COO at the Satellite Applications Catapult, said “The IPP CommonSensing platform helps governments make the right choices. It makes useful climate data accessible to people who need it. Remote locations can now access good quality spatial information on which to base adaptation and mitigation decisions. Temperatures, crop conditions, and shoreline extraction are just a few examples of data that will allow complex risk assessments to be made in support of climate finance proposals. Disruptions due to climate events are emotional, disruptive and difficult. The CommonSensing tools and services allow the right decisions to be made first time.”

Einar Bjorgo, Director of the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) said: “I am very pleased to see the momentum CommonSensing has gained at the country level. The investment early on in the project to really understand the needs have paid off. Now we are able to provide practical tools that can be used both at technical level, but also for informed decision making. As we have heard here at the COP26 countries request training and capacity development. I am very proud that this is an integral part of the CommonSensing solution. Through national partnerships we are able to advance towards increased climate resilience for Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.

Unnikrishnan Nair, Head of Climate Change at the Commonwealth said: “We are delighted that Commonsensing data and tools have proven useful to Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands for building climate resilience. The Commonwealth Secretariat has led the charge in leveraging the power of satellites to enhance the justification and rationale in climate finance proposals. At COP26, the need for increased finance flows to developing countries including small island developing states is a critical issue. We hope that the successful models from this project can be replicated beyond the Pacific and to other Commonwealth regions.”