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Earth Observations on Climatelinks: Geospatial Tools and Resources

This post was written by Stephan Hardeman, and originally appeared on Climatelinks.

This month, Climatelinks is featuring geospatial tools and analysis. When it comes to climate change, geospatial tools and analysis provide innovative methods of visualizing drivers, threats and impacts. Emerging trends can also be identified and studied through geospatial analysis, which in turn allows for more strategic positioning of resources. Open-source mapping and visualization, such as what is offered by the Global Forest Watch tool, empower individuals to make an impact. Data journalism tools, such as Esri’s Story Maps, create an opportunity to tell the story of climate change and other environmental challenges in a unique and compelling way.

Geospatial analysis and Earth observations are becoming ever more important as USAID makes strides towards the creation of a data-driven culture. New requirements for the collection of ‘activity location data’ aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of development programming while also fulfilling accountability and transparency objectives. Through initiatives like the GeoCenter, which is part of the U.S Global Development Labspecialized analytical support for landscape analysis, and a growing network of geospatial specialists, USAID is building the capacity of its missions and encouraging the inclusion of geographic considerations in decision-making and scenario planning.

Below are some of the projects, resources and blogs that you can currently find on Climatelinks:


  • SERVIR Global is a joint initiative of USAID and NASA that connects developing countries with information provided by Earth-observing satellites and geospatial technologies. Since its launch in 2005, SERVIR has grown into a global network of four active hubs that are improving awareness, increasing access to information and supporting analysis to help people across Africa and Asia to better manage today’s complex development and environment challenges.
  • CARPE (Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment) is a long-term USAID initiative that seeks to sustain the Congo Basin’s ecological integrity by promoting natural resource conservation, low emissions economic development, and poverty alleviation across the region. This program has improved the sustainable management of approximately 30 million hectares of rainforest across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo (ROC) and the Central African Republic (CAR). CARPE also promotes environmental policy reform and forest ecosystem monitoring in six Central African countries (DRC, ROC, CAR, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Cameroon). CARPE III (2012-2020), builds on the investments, results and lessons learned from the first two phases and focuses on sustainable management of biodiverse forests in carbon rich and biologically diverse landscapes, improving national and regional environmental policies and regulations, and building the capacity of public and private institutions.
  • Global Forest Watch is an online forest monitoring and alert system managed through a partnership convened by the World Resources Institute. The tool gives near real-time alerts of forest cover loss and empowers people with the data necessary to improve management and conservation of forest landscapes.


  • Renewable Energy Explorer: Enabling Data-Driven Renewable Energy Solutions introduces the RE Data Explorer, a web platform that provides renewable energy data, analytical capabilities and technical assistance to developers, policymakers and decision makers. The tool can be used during project planning to determine the best theoretical locations for wind, solar and biomass resources. Additionally, the RE Explorer is user-friendly, requiring no previous GIS experience, and is supported by a team of experts that are ready to assist users who get stuck.
  • Sharing Lessons from SERVIR’s Service Planning Approach highlights the SERVIR projects “space to village” approach, which aims to equip decision-makers with geospatial tools, and the capacity to use them, in response to locally expressed needs. This blog references an ATLAS Adaptation Community Meeting that occurred earlier in the year. During the meeting, the SERVIR service planning approach took center stage. Two case studies – one from Kenya and one from the Lower Mekong region – are also covered. The webinar and presentation for that Adaptation Community Meeting can also be accessed here.
  • From Satellite to Village, Turning Data into Action details the numerous accomplishments of SERVIR as it enters its thirteenth year. The blog highlights the success of the initiative in streamlining access to scientific data in 45 countries since the launch of the program. It also provides details on the way that the program operates through regional hubs. Because the blog was originally posted on the Global Waters Medium site, a story about the success of SERVIR in aiding flood preparedness serves as an example of how the program is turning Earth observation into actionable tools and services.