Nairobi, 5 March 2021 - UN-Habitat has launched the "Earth Observation Toolkit for Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements" providing national and local governments and others with data and resources to map and analyze progress towards sustainable urbanization.

UN-Habitat leads a collaborative effort with Earth Observations for Sustainable Development Goals  (EO4SDG -  a network of partners who are offering earth observations technologies to assist to monitoring and achievement of the SDGs) and GEO (Group on Earth Observations - an intergovernmental partnership working to improve the availability, access and use of open Earth observations) and 19 other organizations on the Toolkit.   

Over 40 organizations have contributed to the Toolkit, including representatives from national statistical offices, national mapping agencies, city authorities, academic, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, space agencies, and the private sector. It was launched at a side event of the United Nations Statistical Commission on 25 February.

The Toolkit highlights applications which can be used to improve the timeliness and quality of reporting on urban-related indicators, guide policies, and support sustainable urban development. It facilitates engagement among local communities, cities, national agencies, and experts, promoting knowledge sharing and collaboration at all levels.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders in 2015, are designed to be monitored through global indicators. The toolkit will help all levels of government to benchmark and assess progress on SDG 11 on making cities safe, sustainable, inclusive and resilient  as well as urban-related targets for other SDGs and progress on the New Urban Agenda.

The Toolkit provides guidance on how earth observation and new technologies such as satellites and GPS systems can be used for urban monitoring and data collection on four key themes - housing, open spaces, public transport and spatial urbanization.

The tools can help accelerate monitoring processes at the local, city, national and global levels and provide recent case studies which document the successes, and challenges of countries and cities in using Earth observation and geospatial technologies in urban monitoring. There is also a summary of resources for continuous learning on these areas.

The Toolkit will be continuously updated to integrate new data, tools, learning material, case studies and other relevant contributions. A Toolkit Steering Committee comprises  four working groups on impact, awareness building, bench-learning across levels and promote fair practices for data provision and use.

“We have found that users of the toolkit have appreciated the simplified approaches it provides to data producers across many institutions. Many have emphasized the value of continuous updates of resources to facilitate continuous monitoring of urban SDGs and NUA indicators and targets,“ said Robert Ndugwa, Head, Data and Analytics Section at UN-Habitat.

The Toolkit can be accessed here, and contributions can be in the form of data, tools, use cases, learning material and opportunities for continuous capacity development of countries and cities.