Science Team: Andy Hansen, Scott Goetz, Patrick Jantz, James Watson, Oscar Venter

UNDP Team: Jamison Ervin, Anne Virnig, Christina Supples

National Teams:

Colombia - Susana Rodríguez-Buritica, Maria Cecilia Londoño, Dolors Armenteras

Ecuador – Nestor Alberto Acosta Buenaño, Monica Andrade, Carlos Montenegro

Peru - Erasmo Otarola, Michael Valqui, James Leslie 


Countries within the United Nations recently adapted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.  The targets for SDG 15, Life on Land, include sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation, and halting biodiversity loss.  The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is the leading agency in the UN system in assisting governments to integrate the SDGs into their national development plans and policies.  This assistance requires access to spatial data, thus UNDP is a partner in a current NASA applications project designed to provide decision support for countries in the humid tropics meeting the Convention on Biodiversity 2020 targets.  The goal of the proposed project is to develop and implement in collaboration with Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru,  a decision support system for scenario planning, forecasting, policy development, and reporting on SDG 15. Project objectives include:

  1. Assess the collaborating countries’ needs for decision support regarding SDG 15 under climate change and variability;
  2. Project change to 2100 in ecosystem structure and composition, vertebrate habitats, and water risk under scenarios of climate socioeconomics, and policy.
  3. Analyze trends and spatial patterns in the results to inform reporting and policy making for SDG 15.
  4. Develop an SDG decision support system (DSS) for sustained use by the collaborating countries.

               Our approach follows the framework of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observatory Network (GEO BON) for integrating research and assessment to inform policy.  Consistent with the principles of co-learning, the national collaborators, UNDP, and the science team will be involved in all phases from proposal writing to project completion.  We will begin the project by refining user needs of the collaborating countries relative to SDG 15. Earth observations will then be integrated with biological data to produce higher-order indicators of driving variables and “Essential Biodiversity Variables” (EBVs) relating to ecosystem composition and structure, vertebrate habitat suitability, and risk to water yield.  We will develop statistical models relating the EBVs to land use and climate change during 1970-2015.  These models will be used to forecast EBVs under scenarios of climate, socioeconomic, and policy change.  The resulting trends and spatial patterns of EBVs will be compared among scenarios and interpretations drawn for effectiveness of policy in meeting the SDG 15 targets. 

The methods and results of the project will be incorporated into an existing decision support system (DSS) that is being developed through direct collaboration with countries to ensures uptake by pilot countries and streamlining of reporting.  The DSS was created using the MapX geospatial platform, a UN-backed, geo-spatial information platform that aims to map and monitor natural resources and environmental risks in real time using best available data and emerging digital technologies.  The expanded DSS will be designed for interoperability with the DSS being developed within Colombia BON. 

The proposed work will be the first to project land-use change and to forecast the interactive effects of land use change and climate change on EBVs in the study area. The project will also be among the first efforts to integrate monitoring, assessment, forecasting and policy under the new GEO BON framework and thus serve as a demonstration for broader applications to the up to 170 countries served by UNDP.



updated December 19, 2018