Global Human Settlement

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About Global Human Settlements (GHS)


Automatic recognition of image-derived structures using the maximum detail of images tested in the current GHSL workflow (0.5m). JRC-ECAutomatic recognition of image-derived structures using the maximum detail of images tested in the current GHSL workflow (0.5m). JRC-EC

With the support of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), a new Global Human Settlement Working Group (GHS WG) was launched at the first Global Human Settlement Workshop hosted by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre, on 21-22 October 2014.

The scope of the GHS WG is to support the GEO task SB-04-C1: “Global Urban Observation and Information” by establishing and fostering a new community of practices focused on specific goals that will lead to a new generation of global settlement measurements and products in support to post-2015 international processes on sustainable and urban development, climate change and disaster risk reduction. In particular, the GHS WG shall test the production and the use of new global human settlement information products derived by the integration of multi-disciplinary data, namely global remote sensing, environmental, population and socio-economic. The scope is global and multi-disciplinary, with a particular emphasis on the generation of new global fine-scale information products made available through advances in remote sensing technology and open public data access policies.

The GHS WG is committed to developing a new generation of measurements and information products that provide new scientific evidence and a comprehensive understanding about global human settlements  and that in turn support global policy processes with agreed, actionable and goal-driven metrics. In particular, the GHS WG is committed to support the following processes:


Who we are


Working Group Chair

Co-Lead (SB-04-C1)

Martino Pesaresi, EC-JRC

Representing European Commission

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Working Group Members

Name Affiliation
Charis Christodoulou  Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Michael Barton Arizona State University
Vincent Seaman Bill & Melinda Gates foundation
Alexei Abrahams  Brown University 
Linlin Lu Chinese Academy Sciences, RADI
Zhen Liu  CIDR and Brown University
Weidmann Nils University of Konstanz
David M. Theobald    Conservation Science Partners
Alka Dev  CUNY Institute for Demographic Research
Denys Dukhovnov  CUNY Institute for Demographic Research
Jennifer Brite  CUNY Institute for Demographic Research
Bryan Jones  CUNY Institute for Demographic Research and Baruch College, City University of New York
Deborah Balk CUNY Institute for Demographic Research and Baruch College, City University of New York
Frank Heiland  CUNY Institute for Demographic Research and Baruch College, City University of New York
Angelica Maria Palma Robayo   Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadistica (DANE)
Nate Brunsell Department of Geography, Univerity of Kansas
Johan Feddema Department of Geography, Victoria University
Claudia Kuenzer  Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt – DLR (Germany)
Hannes Taubenboeck Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt – DLR (Germany)
Juliane Huth  Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt – DLR (Germany)
Thomas Esch Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt – DLR (Germany)
Pierluigi Cara Dipartimento della Protezione Civile
Tikvah Breimer  Erasmus University Rotterdam, HIS
Taslim Alade Erasmus University Rotterdam, HIS
Poelman Hugo European Commission, DGREGIO
Dijkstra Lewis European Commission, DGREGIO
Ekkehard Petri European Commission, EUROSTAT
Alan Belward  European Commission, JRC
Carlo Lavalle European Commission, JRC
Filipe Batista European Commission, JRC
Pinedo Irene European Commission, JRC
Smid Marek European Commission, JRC
Monika Nauduzaite European Commission, JRC
Ricardo Baranco European Commission, JRC
Tom De-Groeve European Commission, JRC
Andreea Julea European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Aneta Florczyk European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Daniele Ehrlich European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Martino Pesaresi European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Matina Halkia European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Pierre Soille European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Sergio Freire European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Stefano Ferri European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Thomas Kemper European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Vasileios Syrris European Commission, JRC, GHSL
Zoltan Bartalis European Space Agency
Bianca Albino  Federal University of Campina Grande in Brazil, 
Gora Mboup  Global Observatory linking Research to Action (GORA)
Dennis Mwaniki Global Observatory linking Research to Action (GORA)
André Obregón  Group on Earth Observations (GEO) 
Wenbo Chu Group on Earth Observations (GEO) 
Charles  Huyck IMAGECAT  INC
Jacob Mason  Institute for Transportation & Development Policy
Thales Sehn Koerting Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE)
Bob Bishop International Centre for Earth Simulation Foundation
Mccalum Ian International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Mark Mulligan King's College London
Yifang Ban  KTH Royal Institute of Technology 
Andrea Bonomo Litografia Artistica Cartografica SRL (LAC)
Mariaflavia (Nina) Harari MIT Department of Economics
Dale A. Quattrochi  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Brian O’Neill  National Center for Atmospheric Research 
Jing Gao National Center for Atmospheric Research 
Peter Lawrence  National Center for Atmospheric Research 
Lewien Jiang  National Center for Atmospheric Research 
Iphigenia Keramitsoglou  National Observatory of Athens 
Patrick Lamson-Hall  NYU Stern Urbanization Project
Shlomo Angel NYU Stern Urbanization Project
Mark R. Montgomery  Population Council
Giovanna Trianni  Risk Management Solutions (RMS)
Valerio Tramutoli  School of Engineering - University of Basilicata
Nale Mudau   South African National Space Agency (SANSA)
Paida Mangara South African National Space Agency (SANSA)
Giorgos Mountrakis  State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Ana I. Aguilera  The World Bank
Anna I. Gueorguieva The World Bank
Annie Bidgood The World Bank
Christoph Aubrecht The World Bank
Chandan Deuskar The World Bank
Elen Hamilton The World Bank
Elisa Muzzini   The World Bank
Kirsten Hommann The World Bank
Mark Roberts  The World Bank
Nancy Lozano Gracia  The World Bank
Paula Restrepo Cadavid  The World Bank
Sarah Elizabeth Antos  The World Bank
Soraya Goga The World Bank
Toshiaki Keicho The World Bank
Ali Ay Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat)
Aysenur Ozcan Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat)
Birkan Erguc Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat)
Hasan Aztopal Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat)
Sevinc Metin Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat)
Seyma Ozcan Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat)
Eduardo López Moreno UN HABITAT - Research and Capacity Development
Samuel Akera UNDP
Francesco Gaetani UNEP
Brian O' Connor  UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Robertson James UNICAR Myanmar - WASH
Michele Melchiorri United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
Jeff Neal University of Bristol
Catherine Linard University of Brussels
Dan Simon  University of Colorado, Boulder
Fernando Riosmena  University of Colorado, Boulder
Lori Hunter  University of Colorado, Boulder
Stefan Leyk  University of Colorado, Boulder
Bob Chen  University of Columbia, CIESIN
Kytt Mc Manus University of Columbia, CIESIN
Paul C. Sutton University of Denver
Benjamin Bechtel  University of Hamburg, Center for Earth System Research and  Sustainability
Meenu Tiwari  University of North Carolina
Narcisa Pricope  University of North Carolina Wilmington
Eugenie L. Birch University of Pennsylvania
Cabrera Barona Pablo  University of Salzburg
Sharolyn Anderson  University of South Australia
Andrew J Tatem  University of Southampton
Hornby Duncan University of Southampton
Hiroyuki Miyazaki University of Tokyo
Richard Sliuzas University of Twente
Maria Chiara Tosi University of Venice
Ani Dasgupta World Resources Institute
Vijay Jagannathan World Resources Institute
Eleanor Stokes  Yale University
Karen Seto Yale University
Meredith Azevedo Yale University

Manifesto for a Global Human Settlement Partnership

Statement for a Global Human Settlement Partnership

GHS brochure cover

People have endeavored to change the earth since their earliest days. Now a profound global transformation is underway as our population moves from a primarily rural and agricultural society to one that is becoming more urban with every day.  We increasingly live in towns, cities, even megacities. Urbanization is happening at a rapid pace.

In the last 50 years, an additional 4 billion people have settled on this planet – the population increases by more than 150 extra people every minute: but exactly where these new people live remains largely unknown.  We may believe we know the single branch of the tree on which we sit, but we ignore the tree and the forest within which it grows.  The density, the heterogeneity, the dynamics of human settlements and their interactions with the environment are fundamental pieces of information we need to have at hand to help us keep in balance the use and regenerative capacity of our planet’s resources.

The current picture of the human footprint is incomplete. The majority of small and medium-sized settlements, critical for accounting and understanding the impact of people on the globe, remain largely invisible. The big dots may be visible, but not the all-important connections between them. And the truly vulnerable, such as those dwelling in refugee camps, shantytowns and slums are effectively missing from our global understanding.

Scientific evidence supported by new technologies should be harnessed to its full extent to generate a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the complexity of human presence and its interactions with the earth’s social, economic, and ecological environments. Such vital information should enable global action to prevent and reduce disaster risk, eradicate extreme poverty and promote sustainable development.

This statement for a Global Human Settlement partnership calls for a collaborative and integrated approach with which to advance our knowledge of where people live and how settlements are changing.   The statement calls on the GEO (Group on Earth Observations) to facilitate this partnership and to support its work.

The increasing capabilities of Earth Observation satellites combined with rapid advances in geospatial sciences, analytical methods and computing power have made detailed, measurable and globally consistent descriptions of the human-made habitat possible. This statement promotes full and open access to the data offered through these advances, and to the global human settlement information generated from them.

The statement recognizes that bringing together information producers, users and those responsible for associated policies will facilitate the validation of existing and new global human settlement metrics, and will determine their fitness for purpose.

Through the establishment of a Global Human Settlement partnership, a new generation of global settlement measurements and products will be developed   to support the concurrent post-2015 processes on sustainable development, climate change and Hyogo framework for disaster risk reduction, and the UN Third Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III, 2016).


For further information on the Global Human Settlement Working Group and to join the activities of the Group please contact: Martino Pesaresi, JRC, European Commission (