This area provides a wide list of success stories categorized according to the  United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This area allows interested EO user communities to identify EO applications based on the SDGs. The UN SDGs are at the heart of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, providing a blueprint for the people, planet, and its resources now and in the future.

Only the SDGs where EO can make a sound contribution have been displayed. To know more about the success stories linked to products or applications, you can refer to the EO in Action section, selecting the appropriate product page.


In September 2015, the UN General Assembly ratified the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, a new transformative, integrated and universal agenda that aims to end poverty, promote prosperity and people’s well-being while protecting the environment. The core of the 2030 agenda is the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their 169 associated targets, which should be achieved by 2030. The SDGs are being launched with an emphasis on collecting data that will be extensive and specific enough to serve these needs. They are designed to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

Earth observation (EO) is a powerful instrument to support the reporting on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and indicators and the provision of relevant information to effectively monitor progress towards the SDG targets, and the degree of compliance with the International Agreements. It helps on the provision of critical information on natural resources, government operations, public services, or population demographics. This actionable information helps on the SDG implementation role, monitoring, reporting, and the facilitation and shaping of reporting methods, policy and tools. These insights can inform national priorities and help determine the most effective paths for action on national issues. EO is a critical data source for monitoring and driving progress against the SDGs.

Effective monitoring of the SDG and reporting of the progress towards the SDG targets require the use of multiple types of data such as EO which together with modern data processing and analytics, offer new opportunities to track sustainable development.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Goal: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? Source: ESA Compendium on EO for the SDGs

Target 1.1: By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day.

Target 1.2: By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions.

Earth Observation (EO) data can be used to track and target poverty, and aid the allocation of scarce resources which can help improve human livelihoods. EO can be used to map spatial distribution of socioeconomic deprivations, as well as providing information that may indicate areas at risk of poverty (e.g. contribute towards famine early warning systems) (NASA, 2018). EO data can be used to forecast weather, monitor fires, determine populations at risk from flooding/landslides, analyse climate change and map land cover change (e.g. deforestation and degradation). These factors can all help identify areas currently at risk from poverty, and in the future.

Satellite images can also be used to estimate economic activity (e.g. through monitoring night lights) and mapping houses (e.g. slums), which can be identified through satellite images using physical parameters, clustering of structures with or without a road network, irregular and haphazardly grouped temporary, poorly-constructed or semi-permanent households (Montana et al., 2016). Further, these datasets can be combined with in-field survey data (from socioeconomic household surveys, social media, mobile phone networks) (Leidig & Teeuw, 2015), and often by additionally using machine learning algorithms (Jean et al., 2016), can estimate consumption expenditure and asset wealth of the region analysed. Such approaches can assist efforts to track and target poverty.

Target 1.4: By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.

Improving human well-being and access to services, EO data can help develop various proxy indicators of human well-being, for example access to services such as electric power, as well as patterns of human interaction

Remote sensing and call data records can help monitor access to basic services. Call Data Records (CDR) provide information on where, when, how and with whom someone made a mobile phone call mainly used for billing purposes, but also provide spatial information on patterns of human interaction. Mobile phone usage and movement can indicate household access to financial resources and services, for example, via electronic money schemes such as M-Pesa. Remote sensing can capture information on biophysical properties such as rainfall, temperature and vegetation cover as well to variables such as infrastructure (e.g. railway, main roads, waterways), distance to water sources and power plants, electricity use, agriculture productivity and distance to roads and urban areas (which reflects access to markets and information). The state of the road network (e.g. if it’s a dirt track or an impervious road) can be derived through Open Street Map, but can be combined with remote sensing data to provide a more detailed picture.

Target 1.5: By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.

The frequency and severity of natural disasters have been increasing in the last decades. Research has revealed that it is generally the poor who tend to suffer worst from disasters. The fact that climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of these events threaten to derail international efforts to eradicate poverty.

The importance of EO in disaster management and assessment has gained increasing significance over the past years. One of the ways EO can contribute to build resilience of vulnerable populations is through disaster-risk reduction. EO datasets and methods can contribute to disaster risk management and reduction by providing relevant information to the full cycle of disaster and environmental shock management: mitigation, preparedness, warning and response.

EO has proven successful for a wide range of disaster types, particularly for flooding, extreme drought events, earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions. In fact, EO data is providing a reliable data basis for deriving useful information such as the extent of damaged area along with the land-use types as well as the population affected. This can be done through hazard mapping and risk modelling, real time monitoring, producing input data for feeding early warning systems, or for producing maps to support disaster response actions. For a comprehensive review on how EO can contribute to disaster-risk management, see ESA (2015). EO data lies also at the heart of climate modelling, which represent key tools to inform actions aiming to reduce vulnerability to climate change.


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Goal: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 2.3: By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.

Target 2.4: By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality


Relevant Success Stories










Goal: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 3.3: By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases.

Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.


Relevant Success Stories








Goal: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 6.1: By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.

Target 6.3: By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

Target 6.4: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

Target 6.6: By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes.


Relevant Success Stories









Goal: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.


Relevant Success Stories








Goal: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 9.1: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans- border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.

Target 9.4: By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.


Relevant Success Stories






Goal: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 11.1: By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums.

Target 11.2: By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.

Target 11.3: By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.

Target 11.5: By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.

Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.

Target 11.7: By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.


Relevant Success Stories









Goal: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.


Relevant Success Stories








Goal: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 14.1: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land- based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

Target 14.3: Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels.


Relevant Success Stories









Goal: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

EO data offer an invaluable opportunity for better-informing development policies and quantifying various targets. How can EO be used to help countries achieve specific targets? 

Target 15.1: By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements.

Target 15.2: By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.

Target 15.3: By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.

Target 15.4: By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development.

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