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Spotlight Shines on the Winners of the GEO Week Awards

News / 6 November 2019

At a special awards ceremony at GEO Week 2019, the spotlight shone on outstanding individuals, organizations and countries that are making exceptional contributions to GEO and the global Earth observations community.

During the lavish GEO Week Gala Dinner hosted by the Government of Australia, prizes were offered in three separate categories, including: Citizen Science Awards, the GEO Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Awards, and the GEO Individual Excellence Awards.

Citizen Science Awards

NASA and Scouts Australia launched a citizen science competition from 15 June to 13 October 2019 for teams to use Earth observations to validate satellite based land cover data. 

The winning team obtained observations in across 3 states in the country, and they undertook the competition to support their respective badge work for Scouts. The winning team won a trip to GEO Week to meet a NASA scientist, and receive their awards. The team is made up of Mitchell Haley (Team Captain - age 11), Samual Haley (age 10), and Josh Lange (age 16). The team was supported by mothers Odette Haley and Angela Lange. 

“[The boys have] most definitely taken a stronger interest in science, and the realisation they can be part of something bigger,” explained Odette Haley. They are also taking more notice of the land around them, she noted.

Group on Earth Observations Sustainable Development Goals Awards

This brand new award, led by the EO4SDG initiative, was designed to recognize institutions, organizations and countries that are applying Earth observations towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. And the winners are…

CSIRO wins the 2019 GEO SDG Award for the special category, Innovation

This award recognizes the remarkable efforts of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO to develop methods guidance documents for indicator 15.3.1, Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area. These efforts have enabled the advancement of this indicator to a higher standing, and the development of Earth observation integrated tools to scale the use of Earth observations in support of SDG monitoring and reporting and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s Land Degradation Neutrality program.

The most comprehensive link to this work is hosted on the UNCCD website describing the Indicator and its links to the SDG and LDN processes that resulted in the elevation of the Indicator to Tier 2.  The full Good Practice Guidance report can be found here

South Africa (South African National Space Agency (SANSA)) wins the 2019 GEO SDG Award for the thematic category, Testimonial/ Story. 

Recognizing South Africa's efforts to work with the National Statistics Office, the Ministry of Human Settlements, and UN-Habitat to produce Earth observation data for indicator 11.3.1 (land consumption) for South African cities while also identifying local needs which are directly tied to this indicator. 

This represents a great example of multi-stakeholder engagement, which also highlights how country experiences can help better integrate local needs into the global SDG processes and shape production of more relevant methodologies and datasets.

Download the report here.

Uganda wins the 2019 GEO SDG Award for the sectoral category, Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Member Country. 

Uganda has made remarkable efforts to apply Earth observation data to the development of early warnings for crop failure and to inform disaster risk financing strategies. Integrating EO into several government ministries, Uganda is setting an example for using Earth observations for better policy making.

UN Environment wins the 2019 GEO SDG Award for the sectoral category, SDG Custodian Agency

On behalf of the GEO EO4SDG Initiative and the GEO SDG Awards Panel, it is our esteemed honor to recognize UN Environment's remarkable efforts to integrate Earth observation data into global methodologies to enable the official monitoring and reporting of indicator 6.6.1., Change in the extent of freshwater related ecosystems over time. 

Watch a video here:

https://youtu.be/5wfaFST28Tc

Conservation International wins the 2019 GEO SDG Award for the sectoral category, GEO Participating Organization. 

Conservation International has been working to enable broader access to Earth observation data and their utilization to support informed decision-making and SDG monitoring and reporting, via the development of Trends.Earth. The Trends.Earth system to track land cover can be explored here.

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Germany (Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy Germany (BKG)) wins the  2019 GEO SDG Award for the thematic category, Statistical and Geospatial Integration. 

Germany’s collaboration between BKG and the Federal Statistical Office of Germany has effectively integrated Earth observations and national geospatial datasets for calculating selected SDG indicators.

Their work addresses several SDGs including: 15.4.2, Mountain Green Cover Index, 11.7.1, Average share of the built-up area of cities that is open space for public use for all, and 15.1.1, Forest area as a percentage of total land area.

The GEO Individual Excellence Awards 

The GEO Individual Excellence Awards award recognizes those individuals who have demonstrated exceptional personal commitment to GEO and whose work is making a real impact in the community. 

As a brand new initiative that has been commissioned and spearheaded by the GEO Programme Board, this award will be given annually to individuals who go above and beyond what is expected to realize GEO’s mission. And the winners are…

Angélica Gutiérrez, A champion for EO in the Americas region

As a driving force behind AmeriGEO, the regional GEO in the Americas, and a champion of GEOGloWS, she has made exceptional contributions to the work of GEO by improving water sustainability in multiple countries, pioneering scientific and regional collaboration.

She has championed GEOGloWS, annual AmeriGEO Weeks, and has served as an ambassador for open data policies resulting in 16 national open data portals in the region. As the AmeriGEO Coordination Working Group Co-Chair, her efforts have resulted in expanding AmeriGEO to new countries throughout the Americas region, which we are pleased to welcome El Salvador and Guatemala as two of GEO newest member countries in 2019. 

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VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFx92ztEezA

Catherine Nakalembe, A champion for food security

Catherine has been a driving force behind GEO’s food security initiatives. Her work has saved lives and improved livelihoods while reducing the costs of food security emergency response in East African nations.

She leads NASA Harvest Eastern Africa-Hub + Mali activities alongside capacity building in the use of Earth Observations (EO) data for agriculture monitoring in support of food security in GEOGLAM. She has worked with national ministries of agriculture in Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and regional agencies ICPAC and RCMRD. 

Throughout all of her work, she has embraced the GEO values of open sharing of knowledge and co-development, putting trusted and authoritative information in the hands of decision makers. This effort translates to proactive policies and programmes that save lives, and her extraordinary commitment to this mission is an inspiration to the entire GEO community.

VIDEO: American university to help Karamoja mitigate against crop failure

Paul M. DiGiacomo, A champion for oceans and waters

Paul has been a champion water quality observations in GEO for more than 10 years. He has been instrumental to the development of two GEO Initiatives – GEO Blue Planet and GEO AquaWatch – into active and impactful activities. 

He ‘walks the talk’ of supporting GEO initiatives, leveraging both funds and stakeholder support for the growth of key activities. With countless peer-reviewed publications over his career, his work is making real strides in advancing the use of Earth observations for water resource management. 

"I am humbled at receiving this award because of the tremendous respect and gratitude that I have for all of the exceptionally capable and passionate people involved in GEO who work so hard to make it a success, particularly my Blue Planet and AquaWatch colleagues.  It is on their collective behalf that I am honored to accept this award,” said Paul.  “In this regard, I think back to something our former GEO Secretariat colleague Michael Rast once told me: ‘You ask what GEO is? I am GEO, you are GEO. We are all GEO!’"   

Paul M. DiGiacomo at the Blue Planet Symposium 2018. Photo credit: Copernicus Marine

Congratulations to all of the winners!

 

 

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