Advanced Training on EO & GIT Applications for Climate Resilience underway in Honiara

The Advanced Training on Earth Observation (EO) and Geospatial Information Technology (GIT) Applications for Climate Resilience commenced on Monday, 2nd November 2020 at the Solomon Islands National University’s (SINU) Department of Fisheries Studies Computer Lab, Ranadi.

This set of training is a continuation phase on capacity building activities of the CommonSensing project led by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR’s) Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT). The CommonSensing is financed by the UK Space Agency through their International Partnership Programme (IPP) funded from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

UNITAR-UNOSAT in collaboration with the Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) has successfully completed the first introductory training late last year which introduced participants to the basic concepts and terminology related to Geospatial Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing. The training event this year focuses on the advanced earth observation topics and GIT applications for climate resilience. Training sessions will capture theoretical understanding of advanced remote sensing and land cover detection. Participants will then learn how to conduct building damage assessment and population exposure analysis for tropical cyclones. Furthermore, the participants will be introduced to online applications and will design and execute a case study.

In his opening remarks, the British High Commissioner to Solomon Islands His Excellency, Dr Brian Jones stated that they are proud to fund the set of trainings which is deemed vital for the Pacific Islands. “Our weather is getting more extreme, less predictable, and frequent cyclone seasons are posing great challenges to the government’s response. So, we need to look out for advanced science technologies and applications to capture data.”

“The applications used for this CommonSensing advanced training will help government agencies to respond to disasters swiftly and in an informed way.” he said. H.E Dr Jones also added that the CommonSensing project is expected to be extended for the full next year.

During the opening ceremony, the Deputy Secretary – Technical of MECDM, Mr. Chanel Iroi emphasized on the importance of the set of trainings which reflects the multi-sectoral approach of the government to mitigate the negative effects of climate change using scientific technology-based information. “Generated data-driven information will be helpful for governments’ policy making in regard of climate change resilience and adaptation strategies.” He cited the recent Integrated Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment (IVA) on the remote island of Sikaiana as a classic example of employing tools to gather information for database and help agencies in their response to climate change. Mr. Iroi also acknowledged the British Government’s funding for the CommonSensing project and continuous training offer.

Twenty-five of the participants are mostly from the Governmental Ministries, Solomon Islands National University and State-Owned Enterprises. The CommonSensing project aims to improve climate resilience and contribute to sustainable development in three Commonwealth Pacific island states: the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Vanuatu. Using satellite-based information, the CommonSensing consortium is developing a technical platform and tools that directly match challenges and needs of the Solomon Islands, and it will support the nation’s goals to strengthen capacity to access climate finance and report on climate funds; enhance national and regional climate action policy; reduce the impact of natural disasters; and improve food security.

The Focal Point of CommonSensing in the Solomon Islands, Ms Joy Papao, oversees the training sessions. Throughout the training week, 2-6 November 2020, UNITAR-UNOSAT technical team based in Bangkok, Thailand, will also provide support and guidance for practical exercises.