Special Issue "Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)"

A special issue of ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information (ISSN 2220-9964).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Karin Pfeffer

Full Professor, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) of the University of Twente, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-information Management, PO Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +31(0)53 4897422
Interests: urban studies; urbanization; urban deprivations; spatial inequality; quality of life; urban vulnerabilities; urban patterns; urban governance; urban infrastructures
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Yola Georgiadou

Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB Enschede, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In 2015, the international community agreed on an ambitious global agenda to promote social development and economic prosperity while protecting the environment. To implement this agenda, 193 countries agreed to achieve, by 2030, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 Targets, accompanied by specific Indicators. The Inter-agency Expert Group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDGs) clusters and regularly updates indicators around three tiers, depending on (a) whether they are conceptually (un)clear, (b) whether the methodology and standards are available or not, and (c) whether the data are regularly produced by countries, or not. The SDG agenda is already influencing national policy-making and business activities, especially in the global North, as well as the academic community and activists. Social scientists and the GIS/RS research community are positioning themselves to contribute to this transformative agenda.

Nevertheless, researchers and advocates are expressing concerns, some of which this special issue addresses. Concerns are related to the availability of suitable data and methodologies to measure and monitor the indicators; the suitability and local relevance of indicators for tracking a certain target; the processes through which indicators to achieve a certain goal and target have been formulated in global consultations. To address these concerns and contribute new insights into how indicators are constructed, monitored and achieve local relevance, a critical examination is required.

Aim of the Special Issue


This Special Issue examines these issues critically from the perspective of the GIS/RS community. We solicit contributions related to how indicators are constructed, how and why they can be improved (if needed), how indicators are achieved in specific social contexts, as well as the potential and limitations of RS/GIS in measuring progress in the years to come. We ask for contributions from authors involved in particular in SDGs for cities and human settlements (SDG#11), end of poverty (SDG#1), peace and inclusion (SDG#16), climate change (SDG#13) and water (SDG#6), among others.

Topics: In line with the context and aims outlined above, we invite original research contributions on the following topics (may be extended):

  • Innovative GIS/RS methodologies and data collection approaches to measure the indicators of SDGs
  • Analysis of indicator formulation—e.g., which views are inscribed in a certain indicator? To what extent do indicators include displaced communities, the homeless and those with diverse gender and sexual identities?
  • Local relevance and successful production of indicators in different geographic and social contexts
  • Scalability of indicators
  • Comparative analysis of indicators across different geographic areas
  • Influence of indicators on urban and regional planning and policy, especially in the global South
  • De-construction of SDG goals, targets and indicators

Prof. Dr. Karin Pfeffer
Prof. Dr. Yola Georgiadou
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Measuring Inequality of Opportunity in Access to Quality Basic Education: A Case Study in Florida, US
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(12), 465; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7120465
Received: 24 September 2018 / Revised: 21 November 2018 / Accepted: 26 November 2018 / Published: 29 November 2018
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Abstract
Providing all children equal access to essential services, such as primary education, has been set as a priority in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)’ agenda during the last two decades. Yet the Global Education Monitoring report in 2016 reveals that wide disparities between
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Providing all children equal access to essential services, such as primary education, has been set as a priority in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)’ agenda during the last two decades. Yet the Global Education Monitoring report in 2016 reveals that wide disparities between the rich and the poor persist in access to education of high quality. This study uses the Human Opportunity Index (HOI) to examine the equality of opportunity in access to basic education of high quality. By using enrollment and admission data from a case study in a large school district in the US in 2015/2016, this research evaluates the capacity of the HOI, in order to reveal disparities in access to school opportunities and examines how much of this inequality is explained by families’ pre-determined circumstances. The way of analyzing equality is by disaggregating applications’ data into circumstance groups, according to gender, geography, race/ethnicity, and other criteria. To capture the contribution of each circumstance to inequality of opportunity, the Shapley decomposition method is used. Findings show that the HOI is capable of systematically monitoring and examining existing admission policies and identifying inequality problems. Furthermore, the analysis of the contribution of each circumstance group can reveal admission criteria that have the potential to harm the educational opportunities for children. This assessment should provide valuable insights into the capability of the indicators to reveal where policy intervention is necessary and supply points of view on how policy can be improved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
Open AccessCommunication How to Contextualize SDG 11? Looking at Indicators for Sustainable Urban Development in Germany
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(12), 464; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7120464
Received: 29 August 2018 / Revised: 22 November 2018 / Accepted: 26 November 2018 / Published: 29 November 2018
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Abstract
Agenda 2030 pursues a universal approach and identifies countries in the Global South and in the Global North that are in need of transformation toward sustainability. Therefore, countries of the Global North such as Germany have signed the commitment to implement the Sustainable
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Agenda 2030 pursues a universal approach and identifies countries in the Global South and in the Global North that are in need of transformation toward sustainability. Therefore, countries of the Global North such as Germany have signed the commitment to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the SDGs need to be “translated” to the specific national context. Existing sustainability indicators and monitoring and reporting systems need to be adjusted as well. Our paper evaluates how three different initiatives translated SDG 11 (“Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”) to the German context, given the specific role of cities in contributing to sustainable development. These initiatives included the official ‘National Sustainable Development Strategy’ of the German Government, a scientific initiative led by the ‘German Institute for Urban Affairs’, and a project carried out by the ‘Open Knowledge Foundation’, a non-governmental organization (NGO). This article aims to analyze how global goals addressing urban developments are contextualized on a national level. Our findings demonstrate that only a few of the original targets and indicators for SDG 11 are used in the German context; thus, major adjustments have been made according to the main sustainability challenges identified for Germany. Furthermore, our results show that the current contextualization of SDG 11 and sustainable urban development in Germany are still ongoing, and more changes and commitments need to be made. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
Open AccessArticle Characterizing Data Ecosystems to Support Official Statistics with Open Mapping Data for Reporting on Sustainable Development Goals
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(12), 456; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7120456
Received: 9 September 2018 / Revised: 30 October 2018 / Accepted: 12 November 2018 / Published: 24 November 2018
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Abstract
Reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is complex given the wide variety of governmental and NGO actors involved in development projects as well as the increased number of targets and indicators. However, data on the wide variety of indicators must be collected
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Reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is complex given the wide variety of governmental and NGO actors involved in development projects as well as the increased number of targets and indicators. However, data on the wide variety of indicators must be collected regularly, in a robust manner, comparable across but also within countries and at different administrative and disaggregated levels for adequate decision making to take place. Traditional census and household survey data is not enough. The increase in Small and Big Data streams have the potential to complement official statistics. The purpose of this research is to develop and evaluate a framework to characterize a data ecosystem in a developing country in its totality and to show how this can be used to identify data, outside the official statistics realm, that enriches the reporting on SDG indicators. Our method consisted of a literature study and an interpretative case study (two workshops with 60 and 35 participants and including two questionnaires, over 20 consultations and desk research). We focused on SDG 6.1.1. (Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services) in rural Malawi. We propose a framework with five dimensions (actors, data supply, data infrastructure, data demand and data ecosystem governance). Results showed that many governmental and NGO actors are involved in water supply projects with different funding sources and little overall governance. There is a large variety of geospatial data sharing platforms and online accessible information management systems with however a low adoption due to limited internet connectivity and low data literacy. Lots of data is still not open. All this results in an immature data ecosystem. The characterization of the data ecosystem using the framework proves useful as it unveils gaps in data at geographical level and in terms of dimensionality (attributes per water point) as well as collaboration gaps. The data supply dimension of the framework allows identification of those datasets that have the right quality and lowest cost of data extraction to enrich official statistics. Overall, our analysis of the Malawian case study illustrated the complexities involved in achieving self-regulation through interaction, feedback and networked relationships. Additional complexities, typical for developing countries, include fragmentation, divide between governmental and non-governmental data activities, complex funding relationships and a data poor context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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Open AccessArticle From a Vegetation Index to a Sustainable Development Goal Indicator: Forest Trend Monitoring Using Three Decades of Earth Observations across Switzerland
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(12), 455; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7120455
Received: 29 August 2018 / Revised: 16 November 2018 / Accepted: 21 November 2018 / Published: 24 November 2018
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Abstract
Forests represent important habitats for species and provide multiple ecosystem services for human well-being. Preserving forests and other terrestrial ecosystems has become crucial to halt desertification, land degradation, and biodiversity loss worldwide, and is also one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to
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Forests represent important habitats for species and provide multiple ecosystem services for human well-being. Preserving forests and other terrestrial ecosystems has become crucial to halt desertification, land degradation, and biodiversity loss worldwide, and is also one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. Remote sensing could greatly contribute to measuring progress toward SDGs by providing consistent and repetitive coverage of large areas, as well as information in various wavelengths, which facilitates the monitoring of environmental trends at various scales. This paper focuses on SDG indicator 15.1.1—“Forest area as a percentage of total land area” to demonstrate the potential of Earth Observation Data Cubes for SDGs. The approach presented here uses Landsat Analysis Ready Data (ARD) stored in the Swiss Data Cube, and offers a complementary method to ground-based approaches to monitor Switzerland’s forest extent based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). The proposed method performs time-series analyses to extract a forest/non-forest map and a graph representing the trend of SDG 15.1.1 indicator over time. Preliminary results suggest that this approach can identify similar forest extent and growth patterns to observed trends, and can therefore help monitor progress toward the selected SDG indicator more effectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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Open AccessArticle Toward Model-Generated Household Listing in Low- and Middle-Income Countries Using Deep Learning
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(11), 448; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7110448
Received: 19 September 2018 / Revised: 7 November 2018 / Accepted: 14 November 2018 / Published: 16 November 2018
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Abstract
While governments, researchers, and NGOs are exploring ways to leverage big data sources for sustainable development, household surveys are still a critical source of information for dozens of the 232 indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
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While governments, researchers, and NGOs are exploring ways to leverage big data sources for sustainable development, household surveys are still a critical source of information for dozens of the 232 indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Though some countries’ statistical agencies maintain databases of persons or households for sampling, conducting household surveys in LMICs is complicated due to incomplete, outdated, or inaccurate sampling frames. As a means to develop or update household listings in LMICs, this paper explores the use of machine learning models to detect and enumerate building structures directly from satellite imagery in the Kaduna state of Nigeria. Specifically, an object detection model was used to identify and locate buildings in satellite images. In the test set, the model attained a mean average precision (mAP) of 0.48 for detecting structures, with relatively higher values in areas with lower building density (mAP = 0.65). Furthermore, when model predictions were compared against recent household listings from fieldwork in Nigeria, the predictions showed high correlation with household coverage (Pearson = 0.70; Spearman = 0.81). With the need to produce comparable, scalable SDG indicators, this case study explores the feasibility and challenges of using object detection models to help develop timely enumerated household lists in LMICs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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Open AccessArticle The Elephant in the Room: Informality in Tanzania’s Rural Waterscape
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(11), 437; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7110437
Received: 19 September 2018 / Revised: 15 October 2018 / Accepted: 27 October 2018 / Published: 8 November 2018
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Abstract
Informality is pervasive in Tanzania’s rural waterscape, but not acknowledged by development partners (donors and beneficiaries), despite persistent warnings by development scholars. Informality is thus the proverbial elephant in the room. In this paper, we examine a case of superior rural water access
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Informality is pervasive in Tanzania’s rural waterscape, but not acknowledged by development partners (donors and beneficiaries), despite persistent warnings by development scholars. Informality is thus the proverbial elephant in the room. In this paper, we examine a case of superior rural water access in two geographical locales—Hai and Siha districts—in Tanzania, where actors not only acknowledge, but actively harness informality to provide access to water to rural populations. We employ concepts from organization and institutional theory to show that when informal programs and related informal sanctions/rewards complement their formal counterparts, chances for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target 6.1 ‘By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all’ are significantly increased. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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Open AccessArticle From Global Goals to Local Gains—A Framework for Crop Water Productivity
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(11), 414; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7110414
Received: 20 September 2018 / Revised: 22 October 2018 / Accepted: 23 October 2018 / Published: 25 October 2018
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Abstract
Crop water productivity (CWP) has become a recognised indicator in assessing the state of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6.4—to substantially increase water use efficiency. This indicator, while useful at a global scale, is not comprehensive at a local scale. To fill this gap,
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Crop water productivity (CWP) has become a recognised indicator in assessing the state of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6.4—to substantially increase water use efficiency. This indicator, while useful at a global scale, is not comprehensive at a local scale. To fill this gap, this research proposes a CWP framework, that takes advantage of the spatio-temporal availability of remote sensing, that identifies CWP goals and sub-indicators specific to the needs of the targeted domain. Three sub-indicators are considered; (i) a global water productivity score (GWPS), (ii) a local water productivity score (LWPS) and (iii) a land and water use productivity score (YWPS). The GWPS places local CWP in the global context and focuses on maximised CWP. The LWPS differentiates yield zones, normalising for potential product, and focuses on minimising water consumption. The YWPS focuses simultaneously on improving land and water productivity equally. The CWP framework was applied to potato in the West Bank, Palestine. Three management practices were compared under each sub-indicator. The case study showed that fields with high and low performance were different under each sub-indicator. The performance associated with different management practices was also different under each sub-indicator. For example, a winter rotation had a higher performance under the YWPS, the fall rotation had a higher performance under the LWPS and under the GWPS there was little difference. The results showed, that depending on the basin goal, not only do the sub-indicators required change, but also the management practices or approach required to reach those basin goals. This highlights the importance of providing a CWP framework with multiple sub-indicators, suitable to basin needs, to ensure that meeting the SDG 6.4 goal does not jeopardise local objectives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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Open AccessArticle Using Remote Sensing to Analyse Net Land-Use Change from Conflicting Sustainability Policies: The Case of Amsterdam
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(9), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7090381
Received: 28 July 2018 / Revised: 4 September 2018 / Accepted: 11 September 2018 / Published: 19 September 2018
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Abstract
In order to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goal #11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), an integrative approach is necessary. Complex outcomes such as sustainable cities are the product of a range of policies and drivers that are sometimes at odds with each other.
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In order to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goal #11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), an integrative approach is necessary. Complex outcomes such as sustainable cities are the product of a range of policies and drivers that are sometimes at odds with each other. Yet, traditional policy assessments often focus on specific ambitions such as housing, green spaces, etc., and are blind to the consequences of policy interactions. This research proposes the use of remote sensing technologies to monitor and analyse the resultant effects of opposing urban policies. In particular, we will look at the conflicting policy goals in Amsterdam between the policy to densify, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, goals of protecting and improving urban green space. We conducted an analysis to detect changes in land-uses within the urban core of Amsterdam, using satellite images from 2003 and 2016. The results indeed show a decrease of green space and an increase in the built-up environment. In addition, we reveal strong fragmentation of green space, indicating that green space is increasingly available in smaller patches. These results illustrate that the urban green space policies of the municipality appear insufficient to mitigate the negative outcomes of the city’s densification on urban green space. Additionally, we demonstrate how remote sensing can be a valuable instrument in investigating the net consequences of policies and urban developments that would be difficult to monitor through traditional policy assessments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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Review

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Open AccessReview The Scope of Earth-Observation to Improve the Consistency of the SDG Slum Indicator
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2018, 7(11), 428; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi7110428
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 10 October 2018 / Accepted: 27 October 2018 / Published: 1 November 2018
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Abstract
The continuous increase in deprived living conditions in many cities of the Global South contradicts efforts to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable places. Using examples of Asian, African, and Latin American cities, this study shows the scope and limits of earth
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The continuous increase in deprived living conditions in many cities of the Global South contradicts efforts to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable places. Using examples of Asian, African, and Latin American cities, this study shows the scope and limits of earth observation (EO)-based mapping of deprived living conditions in support of providing consistent global information for the SDG indicator 11.1.1 “proportion of urban population living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing”. At the technical level, we compare several EO-based methods and imagery for mapping deprived living conditions, discussing their ability to map such areas including differences in terms of accuracy and performance at the city scale. At the operational level, we compare available municipal maps showing identified deprived areas with the spatial extent of morphological mapped areas of deprived living conditions (using EO) at the city scale, discussing the reasons for inconsistencies between municipal and EO-based maps. We provide an outlook on how EO-based mapping of deprived living conditions could contribute to a global spatial information base to support targeting of deprived living conditions in support of the SDG Goal 11.1.1 indicator, when uncertainties and ethical considerations on data provision are well addressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geo-Information and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs))
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