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ADB DigitalX

ESA’s GDA at Digital x ADB

From September 19 to 21, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) convened its biennial event, Digital X, at its headquarters in Mandaluyong, Philippines. The essence of this convention was to champion the infusion of digital technologies into ADB’s operations, marking a step toward an innovation-driven development agenda. Space as a major provider of digital information on our natural resources, climate change and economy is an essential actor in the digitalisation of our Earth. Notably, this aspiration harmonises with the vision of ADB’s partner, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Global Development Assistance (GDA) programme. It underscores the potential of digital tools and Earth Observation (EO) data in reshaping the landscape of sustainable development. The nexus between digital innovation and EO data is at the core of their mission, promising transformative outcomes for ADB’s Developing Member Countries (DMCs). Considering this, ESA’s GDA programme was invited to a panel conversation about earth observation (EO) and National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).

Group picture of the ADB Advisory Group on Digital Technology for Development. External members of the advisory group are Google, ESA, Bubu, Heinz College
Carnegie Mellon University, NEC Corporation India, Yonsei University and Tech for Good Institute.

This thematic discussion highlighted the valuable insights EO data provides for informed decision-making and the strategic significance of NSDI in fostering data accessibility and utilisation. EO data provides information that can help tackle complex challenges, such as climate change, natural disasters, and land use planning. By harnessing EO data, decision-makers gain access to critical insights that can inform policies, guide resource allocation, and drive sustainable development initiatives. Through the support of International Financial Institutions (IFI’s), such as the ADB, ESA’s GDA programme acts as a catalyst for knowledge sharing and capacity building. This helps to equip Developing Member Countries (DMCs) with the tools and know-how to harness the digital wave and leverage the potential of Earth Observation data. In essence, ESA’s GDA programme is therefore able to function as a channel through which digital and space technologies are being promoted to advance the cause of sustainable development.

Furthermore, the panel discussion emphasised the strategic significance of NSDI in the modern data landscape. NSDI serves as the framework for organising, sharing, and managing geospatial information. It is the backbone of data accessibility and utilisation, ensuring that geographic data is not only available but also easily accessible to those who need it. NSDI enables diverse stakeholders, including government agencies, researchers, businesses, and the public, to tap into a wealth of geospatial information, fostering innovation and informed decision-making across a spectrum of industries.

Panelists of ESA, ADB, ORPA-BRIN Indonesia, Philippines Space Agency, and the the Cadastre Committee

ESA’s  participation in ADB’s Digital X event signifies the recognition of the space and GDA’s role in advancing the development discourse. This partnership underscores a commitment to collaborative efforts in harnessing valuable EO data to address challenges and unlock the potential held within spatial data infrastructures. Moreover, ESA also participated to the External Advisory Group on Digital Technology for Development of ADB chaired by their President , which further deepens this partnership and emphases the collective commitment to advancing development efforts and leveraging the potential of spatial data infrastructures.