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From Theory to Practice: Using Earth Observation for Sustainable Agriculture Development


Earth Observation (EO) is more important than ever—we’re having a dramatic impact on the planet, and using remote-sensing technologies can help us to better study our environment and reduce risk. Whether it be weather, climate, oceans, forests, or natural disasters, EO is critical to ensure sustainable development, especially in agriculture. We’re using this quantifiable global data with multiple stakeholders to improve agricultural productivity, land and water management, and Bank investments.

New learning series focuses on EO’s role in agriculture

The World Bank’s Open Learning Campus and Agriculture Global Practice created the new three-part series, “Earth Observation for Sustainable Agriculture Development,” to inform and build awareness of the utility, benefits, and potential constraints of using EO in Bank operations and analytical products. The learning focuses on how to harness EO information services as demonstrated under the European Space Agency (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.

The Open Learning Campus produced this series in its Bite+ size format, which combines nuggets of knowledge for a quick, hour-long learning program. Practical examples, interactive discussions, and hands-on demonstrations of EO tools help learners understand EO’s key elements and take its usage from theory to practice. Experts from across the Bank Global Practices, ESA, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and other institutions share their experiences.

What EO services can do for development programs

The series has three components:

•  Introduction and Impact introduces EO concepts and terminology and highlights how EO can be used for enhanced agricultural productivity, improved agricultural water management, and sustainable land management. We see how EO is applied in two examples: assessing agricultural production in Syria and monitoring water productivity of agriculture investments.
•  Successes, Challenges, and Lessons features a lively discussion among Bank Task Team Leaders and practitioners about the challenges and lessons of applying EO services. Topics include anticipating and overcoming constraints in Bank projects, the EO services that have been the most useful, and further opportunities for EO application.
•  Applications and Demonstrations uses lightning talks, satellite data, open source solutions, and demonstrations to illustrate how EO tools can be accessed and applied across the development landscape and in Bank operations. This bite offers an interactive, hands-on training for different EO portals.

An extensive catalogue on climate- and agriculture-related learning is available on the Open Learning Campus for staff, clients, and partners interested in enhancing their knowledge and technical skills in the latest practices and technologies.


Related Links:


•  Open Learning Campus Related Offerings
•  Agriculture Global Practice
•  Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) Initiative
•  Using Satellites to Monitor Progress toward the SDGs
•  Spatial Agent: A World of Data at Your Fingertips