Harnessing big data to inform big investments in climate change

Climate change is leading the global agenda this month as leaders come together in Glasgow for COP26, the UN Conference for Climate Change. 

One of the many leading topics is finance – how are countries mobilizing billions of dollars to support climate action, and how will financial institutions support climate goals? The solution may involve geospatial technology.

What is geospatial?

Satellite imagery showcasing the Lake Oroville water reservoir drought in California. From 2019-06-09 and 2021-08-02

We already know that at any given moment, over half of the global population is sharing GPS location information through their smartphones.

That’s geographic data from approximately four billion people. 

In addition to that, due to the sheer number of satellites in the sky and hundreds (thousands) more slated for future launches, there’s a whole lot of information being collected daily about everything that is happening on our planet. 

What many people don’t realize, however, is that the data being collected right now can accurately monitor our landscapes and the ecology within them. Moreover, we can track the changes to these landscapes caused by climate change. The ability to understand changes to our landscape, track CO2 emissions regularly, analyze environmental impacts and model risk based on environmental conditions is inherently dependant on location-based data and geospatial technologies.

The potential for helping our society make meaningful changes and dramatically influence the direction of climate change lies in these technologies.

When geospatial meets finance

aerial photography of house and road

When you combine the power of geospatial (location data, mapping and satellite imagery) with the world of finance, the implications for climate change are immense. 

Looking at three key points of intersection, these fields can support the parameters laid out in the Paris Agreement, and other global targets currently under discussion at COP26.

1. Data informs investments:
We need to ensure accurate, comparable, and comprehensive datasets on the planet are available to leaders and decision-makers, to guide and prioritize investments where they have the highest impacts for climate action. 

The good news is that the geospatial industry has advanced reliable technologies that can support analysis of the environment so leaders can monitor sustainability goals. 

For example, in 2016 Sparkgeo partnered with the World Wildlife Fund and Wildlife Conservation Society to create MERMAID. This open-source application collects and manages data on coral reef health so scientists can collaborate in real-time around the globe. The data ensures investments can be made to save coral reefs, in locations where they will have the most impact. 

2. Education informs leaders:

There are bridges being built between geospatial experts and those in the banking and insurance fields. But it is really up to the investors, those holding the vast amounts of investment dollars, to lead the effort.

The geospatial pros can help educate financial leaders on the value of the data and how it can be used to make impactful investments and decisions. These conversions need to happen quite quickly though – climate change is the most pressing issue of our age.
 

3. Technology is advancing:
The need for location-aware software and geospatial knowledge is only growing. There is a huge, unmet need for more minds in the geospatial industry. As more people join the workforce, technology will continue to advance, and more people and more geospatial solutions will be available to the financial sector, and other industries to support climate change action.

Aligned with COP26, global geospatial experts have gathered at a virtual satellite pavilion to discuss the important role that geospatial technologies have in building climate impact solutions, including the intersection of finance and climate change. 

Held by the UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and hosted by the University of Oxford, Sparkgeo’s CEO Will Cadell is joining a panel of industry and academic leaders to discuss: The emerging intersection of smart space and finance: Spatial finance in support of climate action. 

Featuring a live feed from the broader COP26 meeting, the panel promises a revolutionary conversation. 

The panel takes place at 1:15pm (GMT) on November 11th and is open to all registrants of the KTN and COP26 meetings.

Interested in learning more about Sparkgeo’s geospatial solutions, and our commitments to climate action? Contact us today.

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