Earth Observation for Water Resource Management: Challenges and Opportunities for collaboration with the ESA

"A panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities for collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA)"

A Panel discussion is initiated to discuss the opportunities and challenges in applying Earth Observation in projects and thereby increasing the impact on the ground that satellite Earth Observation can have in development operations and activities.

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Part 1: Where is Earth Observation (EO) most relevant to development work and what are limitations for its adoption? How do we bring the Earth Observation community and Development community together? 

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Part 2: We are familiar with Earth Observation as a tool, but the one challenge is whom do we work with and how do we select a partner at the country level? How to make EO scalable and sustainable within development projects? 

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Part 3: EO services have a lot of potential to work across sectors. For example, marine pollution and coastal pollution have a clear overlap with environment or water has an overlap with urban development. Satellite images can explain why public services such as water and electricity services are not available. 

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Part 4: How do we institutionalize information and tools within the Bank, not just in countries but also across stakeholders? For example, for crop monitoring we might need the technical infrastructure to host the system in addition to the agricultural ministry to support the technology with the ground network. 

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Part 5: How do we bring different actors together to work across different sectors? Can we think of a baseline of free services that can be made accessible to spread EO tools around the world easily? 

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Part 6: Can we use Earth Observation (EO) tools to track and validate land degradation due to erosion at point scale? How do private sector players pay for this service and are there opportunities of economies of scale with other ongoing WBG projects in the country? 

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Part 7: Different institutions such as NASA and ESA work on different objectives and mandates. For World Bank to work on sustainable solutions, we have to go beyond R&D.

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Closing Remarks: If we want the tools to work and to inform better decision making with the client, we need to focus on localized and customized solutions. 

About the Presenters

Christoph Aubrecht (Moderator)

Senior Geospatial Strategist, European Space Agency Representative to the World Bank

Chris Aubrecht represents the European Space Agency (ESA) at the World Bank, providing strategic advice and coordinating collaborative activities. ESA’s Earth Observation for Sustainable Development #EO4SD initiative provides support to International Financial Institutions in increasing uptake of Earth Observation with the aim of long-term mainstreaming and transfer into development operations. Prior to joining ESA, Chris was leading the spatial analytics efforts under the WB CDRP disaster resilience initiative. For 10 years he worked at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, in the end serving as senior advisor on geospatial strategy development. 

Rita E. Cestti

Practice Manager, Water, The World Bank

Rita E. Cestti is the Practice Manager for the Latin America and Caribbean Region with the World Bank’s Water Global Practice. Ms. Cestti is responsible for managing and leading the work of the SLCWA Unit involving lending, analytical, advisory and knowledge exchange services; for ensuring the World Bank is providing the highest quality support to clients in the region; and for providing a leadership role in the setting of the strategic vision for water resources management and water for agriculture in the region. Her previous assignment was Global Lead on Water for Agriculture, providing direction to operational teams for ensuring best technical and operational knowledge is imbedded into their projects, and facilitating knowledge exchange and learning. She holds a professional degree in Civil Engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica, Peru, and Master’s degrees in Engineering Administration and Economics from the George Washington University, USA. In addition, she completed course work in Economics at the Ph. D. level, and is a registered Professional Civil Engineer in Peru.

Greg Browder

Lead Water Resource Management Specialist, The World Bank

Greg Browder is the Global Lead for Water and Resilience with the World Bank’s Water Global Practice. Mr. Browder is responsible for overseeing the World Bank’s knowledge program on Water and Resilience and helps to ensure that global best practice is incorporated into World Bank projects and studies. In his 20+ years at the World Bank, he previously performed as the Global Lead for Water Resources Management, he has been involved in numerous large-scale water projects in East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America and has published studies related to water resources management and urban water supply and sanitation. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University.

Christian Borja-Vega

Senior Economist, Water, The World Bank

Christian Borja-Vega is a Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Global Water Practice with more than 13 years of experience in development organizations. His experience in the World Bank focuses on water operations, and economic analytics. He was sector’s program coordinator of the Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF) where he managed Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Impact Evaluations in Africa, Latin America and East Asia Regions. Prior to working in the World Bank, he held positions as a research analyst at the Social Development Secretary in Mexico and the Mexican Health Foundation. Christian has co-authored several publications in academic and policy journals, as well as in specialized publications on water topics. He earned a B.A. of Economics at ITESM in Mexico, a Master in Public Policy at the University of Chicago, and his PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.