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GEO 2017-2019 Work Programme


Geo Human Planet Initiative: Spatial Modeling of Impact, Exposure and Access to Resources

Activity ID: 119


The Human Planet Initiative is committed to developing a new generation of measurements and information products that provide new scientific evidence and a comprehensive understanding of the human presence on the planet and that can support global policy processes with agreed, actionable and goal-driven metrics.

The Initiative relies on a core set of partners committed in coordinating the production of the global settlement spatial baseline data and in and enlarged community of partners developing experimental activities on using the new baseline data for derived post-2015 indicators.  The core partnership involved in the global baseline data production are the European Commission, Directorate General Joint Research Center (DG JRC), Global Human Settlement Layer project (GHSL), the University of Southampton WorldPop project, and the Columbia University, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) . The extended partnership involves more than 150 individual scientists and policy makers belonging to 85 different organizations including academies, international stakeholders, governmental bodies and private firms.

Activities for the period

The general objectives of the Human Planet Initiative in the working plan 2017-2019 are listed below:

  1. Improve the state-of-the art of EO-derived global open data describing the physical infrastructures of human settlements;
  2. Improve the state-of-the art of global open and public data describing population in human settlements;
  3. Improve the integration of global open spatial data on population and physical infrastructures;
  4. Test and demonstrate the use of new integrated global spatial data in support to the monitoring of the implementation of post-2015 frameworks.

Specific outputs include:

  • Global historical baseline data on population and built-up areas 1975-1990-2000-2015;
  • Global spatial baseline data on built-up areas from Sentinel sensors (10m);
  • Global settlement classification schema and indicators;
  • Global high resolution age-structured population maps 2000-2020;
  • Global Settlements, Infrastructure, and Population Data Intercomparison;
  • Regional and National show cases (porting of the advanced GHSL data mining technologies for automatic EO data classification in specific region-wide or country-wide fine-scale data scenarios, trough bilateral collaboration with local stakeholders);
  • Human Planet platform (digital platform allowing open data dissemination, visual analytics, and collective discussion, tests and comparison on operationalization of indicators for monitoring the implementation of post-2015 frameworks);
  • Human Planet Atlas releases (periodic publication of the Human Planet Atlas (HPA) where the core evidences and derived indicators produced by the Initiative are presented. The Atlas includes a facts-and-figures section, a cross-cutting thematic section, and an executive summary delivering periodic key messages and narratives based on the core evidences and derived indicators).

User engagement

In the Human planet Initiative all the partners are considered experts in different domains and they all contribute to both experimenting new methods and products definition. The same partner may play the “user” or “developer” role in different segments of the data processing and integration chain. Consequently, “end-users” of the information and tools developed by the Initiative are already involved by definition because they contributed and/or are directly supporting the activities included in the Initiative.

Policy makers and international stakeholders that already contributing to the Initiative are UN agencies (Habitat, UNDP, UNEP, UNSDR), World Bank, and European Commission directorate general regional policy (REGIO). The latter supports the Global spatial baseline data on built-up areas from Sentinel sensors and the activities related to the Global settlement classification schema and indicators. International charity foundations as the Bill & Melinda Gates foundations are actively supporting specific activity streams included in the Human Planet Initiative as the Global high resolution age-structured population maps 2000-2020 coordinated by the WorldPop partner. New end-users are actively linked through the open GEOSS Data Sharing Principles, the digital platform, and the organization of special events in international conferences. Being the general aim of the Initiative the information support for global policy processes (SDG, DRR, Clima) and given the above mentioned multi-disciplinary integrated paradigm implemented in the Initiative, the “end-users” label is also translated to “Science-policy interface experts.

Future plans

The Human Planet Initiative aims to support the post-2015 international frameworks: the UN Third Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III, 2016), the post-2015 framework on sustainable development goals (SDGs), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. Post-2015 international frameworks are accompanied by targets and will be further elaborated through indicators that focus on measurable outcomes. These indicators are action oriented, global in nature and universally applicable. The Human Planet Initiative supports the implementation of a platform contributing to the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism and enabling the test and the collective discussion of alternative options in operationalization of the indicators. 


The Initiative is based on the in-kind support of the partner organizations that in the frame of their available resource allocation and working programs have manifested the interest to coordinate their activities with the Human Planet Initiative and have pre-release access to the new data and indicators developed by the community.



Members: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, EC, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Africa, Turkey, UK, USA.

Participating Organizations: ESA, IIASA, UNEP, WHO, World Bank.

Others: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNDP, UNECE, UNHABITAT, WRI.

Linkages across the Work Programme

Initiatives: Earth Observations in Service of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Global Land Cover; Global Urban Observations and Information.

Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)




Implementing Entity



Martino Pesaresi

European Commission