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Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (#SDGs)

Today, we are facing many challenges concerning climate, racial and gender equality, biodiversity, and education, among many others. To efficiently address them, the United Nations has created, in 2015, the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals. They are using mapping and GIS to communicate these indicators through a geospatial lens, to elevate geographic and holistic thinking.

SDGs — image permission provided by United Nations Sustainable Development
Goals website: The content of this
publication has not been approved by the United Nations and does not
reflect the views of the United Nations or its officials or Member States

The SDGs were adopted by all United Nations Member States as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. This can surely sound overambitious, but they have been chosen to be the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The goals are supposed to address the global challenges of our times, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, conflicts, and injustice.

Many of these challenges are further exacerbated by natural and man-made disasters such as droughts and floods. Droughts and floods are the two extreme ends of the hydrological cycle, here one is too little water and the other is too much.

Classic example of drought
Example of flood captured by drone

Moreover, droughts occur when an abnormally long dry period uses up available water resources, whereas floods occur when watercourses or rain swallow up land that is usually uncovered. These two types of natural disasters are often made worse by human action and increasingly so by climate change, and they are intrinsically creating many challenges, most of which the SDGs set out to address.

In Europe, as well as in the rest of the world, water-related disaster events have increased in terms of frequency and overall impact in recent years, causing a considerable loss of life and damage to ecosystem services and national economies.

Did you know that he number of recorded natural disaster events, such as droughts, floods, storms, heatwaves, landslides, wildfires, earthquakes etc., have increased six-fold in the last 25 years? (International Disaster Database, EMDAT)

This increase is intricately linked to urbanisation, incessant population growth and climate change.

The recent drought and flood disasters in South Sudan are a good example of the devastation and challenges we see increasing in numbers at global level. According to the United Nations, more than 600 000 people have been displaced by flooding in South Sudan since July 2020, exacerbating the
already critical situation related to COVID-19 global pandemic. South Sudan has a long history of high-impact natural and man-made disasters like droughts, flooding, desertification, internal conflicts, and wars.

Women carry belongings on their heads as they wade through water, after heavy rains and floods forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes, in the town of Pibor, Boma state, South Sudan. Credit: Reuters

Connected extreme events, such as floods following droughts, and compound events like droughts or floods coinciding with the Coronavirus pandemic, are becoming more frequent, creating unprecedented challenges that we are clearly not prepared for. We are currently fighting a global pandemic, which puts an even bigger strain on humanitarian response and available resources. Typical donor nations are now spending large amount of money in their own fight against COVID-19 thereby significantly reducing the budgets of aid packages.

The impacts of extreme events like those in South Sudan will be amplified by climate change, which is already affecting many regions of the world, causing
the activation of the so-called negative feedbacks, in which we all play a significant role. Thus, climate change should be acted upon quickly and, in that context, implementing the SDGs is certainly a significant step in the right direction. This of course requires actions through collaborations such as
public-private partnerships (PPPs).

But the situation doesn’t look so promising. In fact, according to a study by PwC that looked at if and how private sector companies use SDGs in their business, out of more than 1 000 companies, 72% mentioned SDGs in their reporting but only 14% included specific SDG targets.

Aligning activities with the SDGs will allow businesses to understand and better tackle global risks. PwC further reports that the next 10 years will be crucial for action and the companies that show a strong leadership on the SDGs will be most likely to win the support of stakeholders, investors, consumers, and society in general.

Like some other companies around the world, RSS-Hydro has
included the SDGs in its mission and business activities for developing sustainable service solutions for society and the Earth’s ecosystem under a
hanging climate and for responding sustainably to extreme events. We offer tailor-made products and services in the fields of remote sensing, earth observation, ML, drone technology and water-related risks.

There are six SDGs out of the 17 that are most aligned with RSS-Hydro’s activities:

SDG 1: NO POVERTY — to reduce exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events

SDG 2: ZERO HUNGER — to promote sustainable agriculture and strengthen the capacity for adaptation to events, such as floods and droughts

SDG 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION — for a more sustainable management of water

SDG 13: CLIMATE ACTION — to combat climate change and its impacts

SDG 15: LIFE ON LAND — that calls for a sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems

SDG 17: PARTNERSHIP FOR THE GOAL — that states that SDGs can only be realised with strong global partnerships, co-operation, and the sharing of innovative ideas.

The current momentum of both public and private sector entities in engaging with the SDGs is clearly an excellent start. However, more companies, NGOs,
and government agencies clearly need to join the collective effort and more needs to be done to be able to respond to the challenges of the SDGs
responsibly and most effectively.

Find out how we successfully included the #sdgs2030 in our mission and daily activities in our latest YouTube video below:



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Margherita Bruscolini

Margherita Bruscolini

Earth Scientist, Drone Pilot | Product manager @GLOBHE | Here I talk about geospatial technologies, sustainability, climate change & feminism