30 October, 2015

United Nations Shines a Light on NGIS efforts in the Pacific Islands

The United Nations has recognised an Australian AusAid-funded project led by NGIS Australia and CRC for Spatial Information’s Mapping Exposure to Sea Level Rise in the Pacific Islands Project as a leading initiative dealing with climate change.  They will be flying the flag for Australia when they will be presented in Paris in at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference COP21 in December.


This collaborative Project with NGIS Australia, Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade allows the Pacific Islands – Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea – to prepare for and adapt to sea level rise brought about by climate change.  The project has already produced a number of direct outcomes including identifying over 10,000 buildings that are at high risk of inundation within the next 80 years, including schools, health facilities and other critical infrastructure.

Revealed this week in London, 16 game-changing initiatives from around the world were announced as winners of a prestigious United Nations Climate Change award, The Lighthouse Award. The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the United Nations Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change.Momentum for Change is part of wider efforts to mobilise action and ambition as national governments work toward adopting a new universal climate agreement in Paris, France, at the end of the year.

The 2015 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the Momentum for Change initiative, which is implemented with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation, and operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.

“The 2015 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities comprise an impressive range of projects and personal stories that touch on sustainability, climate protection, environmental consciousness and social responsibility”, said Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Chair of the Momentum for Change Advisory Panel.

“With a record number of applications – more than 450 – this year, the Advisory Panel had a difficult time selecting the best of the best”.

Bringing their technical expertise and connections to the spatial industry to deliver a fit-for-purpose innovative solution to empower Tonga, PNG, Samoa and Vanuatu to prepare for sea level rise. The online mapping tools have received international recognition, first by Google at the White House Climate Data Initiative and now by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat for COP21 in Paris in December. In response to the United Nations announcement this week, NGIS’s General Manager for International Development, Mr Nathan Eaton,  “The partnership between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CRCSI and NGIS provides a really good example of government working with research working with private industry to deliver the best outcome.” “We are delighted to have its capacity building work in the Pacific recognised by the United Nations Lighthouse Awards.”

“We are also very proud that earlier this year NGIS Australia, CRCSI and Digital Globe were able to respond to the Cyclone Pam recovery by adapting the Vanuatu Globe. Out of the Globe the Cyclone Pam Crisis Map was born which enabled people to easily obtain critical data in the post-cyclone Pam recovery and mitigate the risks of sea level rise. The online map generated over 1000 hits per day at its peak.

The Project provides the fundamental data, skills and tools at-risk communities need to make planning decisions. It trains government decision makers to use online tools and flood maps to better understand and communicate climate change risk to local communities and put adaptation plans in place. The online interactive Vanuatu Globe has provided LiDAR, aerial imagery and flood information to “at-risk” communities in the Pacific. Importantly, it also built the GIS capacity and skills of local practitioners to use the data to understand risks from sea level rise.  With close links to the Pacific community NGIS and CRCSI hopes to continue to bring its expertise to countries tackling the issue of climate change”.

Both NGIS and CRCSI are really excited to be able to share their approach to International Development with a number of leaders at the Climate Change Conference in Paris.

16 Game-Changing Climate Action Initiatives Announced

Key facts:

  • More than 10 000 buildings identified at high risk of inundation within 80 years including schools, hospitals and critical infrastructure
  • 195 people from the governments of Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea were trained on how to manage and use LiDAR data
  • The Vanuatu Globe was a ground breaking Open Data portal produced for the Vanuatu Government and set a new precedent for publicly sharing elevation and sea level rise information
  • Through the Vanuatu Globe, the project was able to help the 2015 Cyclone Pam recovery by providing critical map information which was accessed by more than 1000 people a day within days of the cyclone.

Watch a video discussing the Vanuatu Globe

View other International Development Projects

Further information about this project and award, please contact:

Nathan Eaton, General Manager, International Development

e | nathan.eaton@ngis.com.au

Like what we did in this project? We can do the same for you, contact us today.

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