AFD Group Bolsters Ties with Space Research in Support of Resources and Climate

published on 02 August 2022
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Les satellites au service du développement
July 28 was “Overshoot Day,” the date in 2022 by which humanity consumed all the natural resources that the Earth can regenerate in one year. One way to address the challenge of resource consumption is through the unprecedented opportunities offered by satellite technologies. By signing the International Charter of the Space Climate Observatory (SCO), Agence Française de Développement is reaffirming its ambitions as a climate donor and consolidating the French commitments made at COP21.

Our planet is in dire straits, afflicted by the compound impact of limited resources and an expanding population, a period now referred to as the Antropocene.  Now, only space can offer us the vantage point enabling us to realize we live in a World in Common. We need to look to the unprecedented solutions space technologies can offer in managing our planet, especially when we consider that, this year, Thursday, July 28, was the day by which the Earth exhausted all the resources it can regenerate in one year. It’s with this in mind that AFD Group is building closer links with the world of space research, which will provide a novel look at the dynamics behind the widespread degradation of the Earth’s climate and help us to imagine sustainable and innovative solutions to address the problem.

See also: The AFD Campus MOOC - What avenues for a sustainable world?

On June 27, 2022, AFD Deputy CEO Bertrand Walckenaer visited the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES) in Toulouse, to sign the International Charter of the Space Climate Observatory (SCO). The SCO was initiated during the 2017 One Planet Summit and currently brings together 36 space agencies and international organizations. Its network supports more than 50 projects focused on climate-change adaptation, mitigation, and monitoring, based on Earth-observation data.

This commitment is in line with the enduring partnership between AFD and the CNESrenewed last January. Among other opportunities, this partnership enables our two organizations to develop a geospatial-analysis demonstration platform designed by the CNES subsidiary CLS (Collecte Localisation Satellite). This platform will help amplify the impact of AFD-supported projects, which cover such themes as improvement of climate projections to anticipate water resource vulnerabilities for agriculture, development of marine meteorological solutions to support the economy, support for the fight against plastic pollution, and promotion of the modernization of ports via fishery surveillance centers.

See also: Partnership between AFD and CNES: satellite technologies for development

The platform also provides tools that help improve sustainable forest management thanks to the monitoring of tree cover in real time, via automatic alerts on illegal deforestation and mechanisms to anticipate water stress in trees. There are also tools for peace management, for example through analysis of urban sprawl in cities experiencing refugee influxes.

Use of state-of-the-art technologies in our ambition to build a “World in Common” is by no means new: since 2015, the increasing integration of these tools into our project cycles has provided greater relevance, efficiency, and impact. That’s why we use these tools in the project identification and examination phases, to inform dialogue on public policy, and to improve the geographical targeting of projects. They also enable us to monitor implementation remotely (thereby reducing costs while expanding coverage) and improve analysis of project impact. Several AFD projects have already demonstrated the usefulness of geospatial data, for example on forest monitoring (e.g., the OSFACO project),  hydrology in the Congo Basin, and the understanding of coastal erosion in Saint-Louis, Senegal.