Insights from the UN on the application of geospatial technologies for achieving SDGs

January 29, 2024

Last Friday, January 26th, the OSUN GeoHub project hosted two presentations by UN experts working on the promotion and application of geospatial information technologies to support monitoring and achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The first presentation by Lorant Czaran, Scientific Affairs Officer at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), explored the application of Earth observation data and geospatial technologies for monitoring Global Agendas. The talk introduced the UNOOSA in the context of the United Nations, mentioned relevant treaties related to space utilization, and discussed some of the mandates of the Office, including the UN-SPIDER. Mr. Czaran addressed the current focus on the SDGs and assessed how some of those goals and related indicators are monitored and supported by space technologies. 

The second insightful presentation of the day centered around the transformative role of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) within the World Food Programme (WFP), with a special focus on operations in South Sudan. Mr. Ashraf Abushady, an experienced Innovation and Artificial Intelligence Consultant with extensive UN and international organization tenure, led the discussion.

The session, held both physically at CEU and online, offered attendees a deep dive into how GIS serves as a cornerstone of WFP's logistical operations. Through compelling examples and real-world scenarios, Mr. Abushady illuminated the indispensable nature of GIS at every step of the WFP's mission, particularly in the challenging context of South Sudan. Participants gained valuable insights into how GIS optimizes resource allocation, enhances delivery routes, and streamlines logistical processes, ultimately bolstering the efficiency and effectiveness of WFP's humanitarian initiatives. Abushady's expertise provided a comprehensive understanding of how GIS empowers WFP teams to navigate complex environments and deliver aid where it's needed most and also shed light on the growing role of AI in the field.

The event fostered an engaging atmosphere where attendees actively participated in discussions, gaining a deeper appreciation for the critical role of GIS in humanitarian efforts. Through collaborative dialogue, participants explored the practical applications of GIS in addressing real-world challenges, particularly in regions affected by conflict and instability.