The Launch of Digital Earth Pacific
On October 25, 2023, a significant milestone was achieved in the Pacific region as the Pacific Community (SPC) unveiled Digital Earth Pacific (DEP). This initiative serves as a free and open digital public infrastructure that delivers Earth observation data, products, and services, operating at scale to benefit all 22 member countries within the SPC's Pacific network.
Under the visionary leadership of Stuart Minchin, Director General at SPC, the start-up and establishment of Digital Earth Pacific has been supported by D4DInsights since 2021. Drawing from our prior experience in launching Digital Earth Africa, the approach for DEP emphasized country engagement, the identification of needs and priorities, and the development of a strategy that would be demand-driven, user-centered, inclusive in governance, and capacity-building.
To kick-start this process, a series of four national workshops were conducted in collaboration with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, and Fiji during 2021-2022. These workshops aimed to assess the region's requirements for geospatial and Earth observation data and services. These efforts took place during the global pandemic, which severely restricted travel and in-person engagements. Despite these challenges, the virtual workshops yielded valuable insights that formed the foundation of the product roadmap.
As part of the DEP launch, three demonstration or beta products were made available to users:
Coastline change over a 20-year period.
Water observations from space, illustrating changes in water extent over time.
Mangrove distribution data.
These products are now accessible to every island of SPC member countries. It's important to note that further refinement and validation of these products is an ongoing process, which will include active consultation and collaboration with stakeholders across the Pacific. This collaborative approach will ensure that local knowledge is integrated, and capacity is developed simultaneously.
Aditya Agrawal, Founder of D4DInsights said, "I'm thrilled that Digital Earth Pacific has been launched at the Pacific Community providing all member countries with a free and open digital public infrastructure serving Earth observations products and services at scale. This will be transformational for the region in addressing key challenges including climate change, food security and disaster preparedness and response.”
One key aspect of this initiative is the establishment of an inclusive governance framework that incorporates representation from member countries. The DEP Steering Committee, formed on October 12, 2023, includes representatives from eight Pacific countries and seven regional and international organizations. This inclusive approach is vital to aligning program outcomes with the region's unique needs and priorities.
The partnership and collaboration between D4DInsights and SPC on the Digital Earth Pacific program has been invaluable. The dedication and hard work of the SPC team has been instrumental in bringing DEP to life. While there is still much work ahead, the initiative is well-positioned to engage with member countries and stakeholders to make DEP relevant to local challenges, driving decisions, policy development, and actions.
To access the data, services, stories, and supporting information related to Digital Earth Pacific, please visit the program's new website at https://digitalearthpacific.org/. This website serves as a gateway to the wealth of resources and information made available through DEP, supporting the program's mission to advance Earth observation efforts across the Pacific.
Please see the press release from SPC on the launch of Digital Earth Pacific.