The European Space Agency and the World Bank’s Agriculture Global Practice co-hosted an awareness event on “Earth Observation for Sustainable Agricultural Development” at the World Bank HQ in Washington DC on Thursday 27 September 2018. The event was organized within the framework of the EO4SD initiative’s dedicated activity cluster on ‘agriculture and rural development’.
In his opening remarks Juergen Voegele, Senior Director of the Agriculture Global Practice, spoke about the increasing asymmetry in information, with private traders having access to better and more information than governments. He stressed the need to pool our efforts in order to allow the WB to provide better advice to its client governments.
Presentations by the EO4SD team as well as WB counterparts around the themes of agricultural productivity, agricultural water management, and sustainable land management showcased the opportunities and broad application areas of satellite Earth Observation in the sustainable agricultural development domain. A working lunch chaired by Marianne Fay, Chief Economist on Sustainable Development, focused on the question how to mainstream Earth Observation technology across the hierarchy in the Bank, while Nadia Piffaretti, Senior Economist in the Fragility, Conflict and Violence unit, steered the focus during an afternoon round table on the important role of task team leaders and country offices.
Main conclusion of the event was the broad recognition of the need and mutual appetite to work together to become more efficient in reaching better development outcomes. The Bank acknowledges the need to increase its institutional capacity to identify opportunities that Earth Observation can bring and to ensure poor people in its client countries benefit from it. It needs to change the way it measures, also on the ground, which requires an innovative culture with staff that is familiar with Earth Observation solutions. At corporate level the Bank can add immense value to the global awareness and should play a strong role in creating a development data ecosystem. On the Earth Observation service side, offered solutions should be packaged in a simple manner to be understood by all stakeholders and transparent to increase trust. Capacity building is key in that regard, Bank-internally and even more so externally at the country level. A continued dialogue and partnership is needed to further engineer the demand and create tailor-made solutions to the questions the development community is asking.