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The GEO Indigenous Alliance: Perspectives, opportunities and challenges of Earth Observations for disaster risk reduction

This contributing paper presents three different global examples, at different stages of development, of how Indigenous Peoples are co-creating data platforms and technological tools that weave together Indigenous and Western knowledge and scientific Earth observations (EO) for disaster risk reduction. By documenting these remarkable indigenous-led projects, the researchers aim to inspire greater appreciation of the use of Indigenous knowledge and strengthen the call for its promotion, protection, appreciation and application in disaster risk reduction. The case studies identified challenges and barriers for Indigenous communities in accessing and using EO data and tools. Seventeen recommendations emerge from the case studies that would assist disaster risk reduction (DRR) actors in further implementing the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030.
The study concludes that EO data and tools, when co-designed with and for Indigenous Peoples, can promote a "people-centered" and Indigenous Knowledge driven approach to DRR. The case studies have highlighted important barriers and challenges that Indigenous communities face in accessing key DRR data. If the targets and goals of the Sendai Framework are to be achieved, these challenges must be urgently addressed. The implementation of Indigenous Knowledge in the Sendai Framework will require Indigenous Peoples to develop strong collaborations and partnerships with a variety of different stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and academia.

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The GEO Indigenous Summit, held online 5-7 December 2020, was a landmark event that brought together over 1000 participants from around the world and successfully engaged communities that have not traditionally worked together.

The Summit provided a space for Indigenous Peoples to engage in conversations with the GEO community about the future of Earth observation (EO) data and technology. During the event, participants explored the latest Indigenous EO-based applications, learned about the current opportunities and barriers that Indigenous Peoples face in accessing and using Earth observation data and technology, and left inspired to work with and for Indigenous communities.

Important questions about approaches needed to protect Indigenous knowledge and facilitate equitable collection, sharing and re-use of EO data, including consideration of data principles and ethics, were raised throughout the event.

The GEO Indigenous Alliance 2020 report highlights the opportunities and challenges that were raised during the Summit, and concludes with recommendations and actionable next steps. If we are to achieve the targets and goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework, the challenges addressed during the Summit must be urgently addressed. Collaboration with the GEO community through the GEO Indigenous Alliance will ensure that innovative datasets and technologies are openly accessible and usable by Indigenous communities. The report can be accessed here.

For more information regarding collaboration with the GEO Indigenous Alliance, please contact: Diana Mastracci, International Strategic Liaison of the GEO Indigenous Alliance at

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