The added value of satellites for the adaptation to climate change

The Netherlands is hosting the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021. Over the course of twenty-four hours (on 25 and 26 January), this Summit will offer world leaders and many stakeholders a comprehensive digital platform that offers inspiration on how to effectively deal with climate change. The Adaptation Action Agenda that will be presented will mark the beginning of a decade of expedited international collaboration. The Netherlands Space Office is happy to contribute to this project.
Cocoa farmer, Sat4Farming project, Ghana - ©Rainforest Alliance

With the involvement of government leaders, politicians and other prominent participants, the Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) is a prestigious climate conference. On top of that, it represents an impressive technological feat. During the twenty-four-hour Summit, a wide range of presentations that offer concrete guidelines on how to take on the challenge of climate change will be streamed from different time zones.

There are four “channels” in total; on 26 January from 09.30 until 11.30, channel 4 will focus on Agriculture and Food Security. For this anchoring event, the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) has submitted a number of contributions pertaining to its Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW) programme. G4AW has extensive experience with the use of digital innovations in Africa and Asia, where satellite images are used to increase the efficiency and sustainability of local food production.

Early adopter

One of the purposes of this Summit's Adaptation Action Agenda is to give at least 300 million small-scale food producers access to agricultural advice and/or financial services by the year 2030 to make them better able to cope with the effects of climate change. The NSO expects to be able to provide this support to circa 4.5 million food producers with the G4AW programme in just three years' time. Ruud Grim, coordinator of the G4AW programme: “Since 2014, we have been offering business and agricultural services that enable farmers and shepherds in developing countries to conduct their activities in a more market- and information-driven manner. They receive help with their day-to-day activities in the form of location-based advice and services via call centres, tablets and mobile phones. I certainly hope our contributions will feature prominently during the CAS. This will introduce more organisations to G4AW as an early adopter of space technology for agricultural market development. Ultimately, the CAS may help to increase the investment readiness of businesses, governments, NGOs and investors, which will allow collaborating G4AW partners in Africa and Asia to scale up their operations.”

Coffee farmer, G4AW project GREENcoffee - ©GREENcoffee
One person who is already on board is Ida Rademaker. She works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the field of food security and climate and has NSO/G4AW in her policy portfolio. “G4AW is unique because of the innovative projects that mitigate the risks of climate change through digitisation. Its pioneering efforts result in the implementation of successful services that benefit entire regions. The programme's methods are certainly an inspiration to other development projects of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After the CAS, we intend to sit down with the directors of the NSO to discuss what we can do to help expand the G4AW programme. We hope the Summit will inspire other parties to get involved as well.”

NSO director Harm van de Wetering views the upcoming Climate Adaptation Summit in a similar manner: “Accessible digital agricultural services can improve the future prospects of millions of families. I am proud of the NSO's contribution to this project. I will consider the Summit a great success if it raises people's awareness of the added value of satellite data for the adaptation to climate change.”

Exemplary role

Among the organisers of the Climate Adaptation Summit are the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA).
Young oil palm farmers Sat4Business, Ghana - ©Solidaridad

Bruce Campbell, director of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security research programme of Wageningen University & Research and senior advisor of the GCA, believes G4AW plays an exemplary role: “If we are serious about achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, we need to get climate adaptation messages and advice to 300-500 million farms in the next decade. This task can only be achieved through greatly scaling up and improving digital platforms; platforms that can be combined with banking and insurance services, farmer networking, market intelligence etcetera. The G4AW programme has demonstrated how this can be done through its close work with multiple partners, but especially the private sector.”

The contributions of Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW), submitted for the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021, can be found by clicking on these items below:
G4AW Impact Video - Using satellites to improve smallholder resilience
G4AW Pitchfest pagina
G4AW Pitchfest Trailer
G4AW Lessons Learned publicatie - Space for Food Security: Stimulating smallholders' access to emerging AgTech and FinTech markets, 2021
G4AW Podcast - Space for Food Security, does it work?

Myanmar rice fields - ©MYVAS4AGRI project