COP 27/climate change: MapAction advocates for data-driven solutions

Written by Dr. Florence Akano

MapAction asks international leaders and stakeholders assembled at COP27 to support data-driven solutions to enhance the lives of those affected by climate change.

We have seen blistering fires in the Amazon rain forest, record-breaking temperatures across Europe, terrible droughts in Kenya, and unprecedented flash floods in China in the last year alone. Hurricanes wreaked damage in the Caribbean, while severe flooding struck Pakistan. Climate-related calamities are often increasing water and food shortages.

The coordination of emergency relief stakeholders and governments’ reactions to the climate emergency can have an influence on the recovery of impacted communities. That is why accurate data is critical for preparedness and mitigation, particularly in areas with limited resources.

As the world’s poorest communities are ravaged and displaced by climate change, smart data utilization will not prevent such tragedies. It can only mitigate the consequences by assisting impacted communities and stakeholders in planning and coordinating relief initiatives. The effective use of data in decision-making at critical points can significantly minimize the human cost of climate disasters.

“Data, which is typically shown through maps, may assist determine who the most vulnerable individuals are, where they are, and highlight needs,” says Nick Moody, chair of MapAction’s trustees. “This CoP recognizes that, while this knowledge is vital during a crisis, it may have an even bigger impact if employed ahead of time.” MapAction can play a significant role in assisting others in building resilience through data.”

From reaction to expectation

Despite the fact that MapAction’s core area of specialization was in disaster response, our work is progressively shifting toward early warning and preparedness. Extreme weather event frequency may be expected, if not precisely, then generally, as a result of anthropogenic climate change, which has been shown to influence both their likelihood and severity globally. Being able to recognize the warning signs and start the process of preemptive action early can save lives. If the data is credible, predictive analytics may help us identify the factors that cause these behaviours by analyzing both historical and present-day data and creating models.

“It is more important than ever to be able to respond effectively to such events, but also to be able to anticipate them, in order to more effectively mitigate their impact,” says Daniele Castellana, lead Data Scientist at MapAction. “Through our collaborations with the Centre for Humanitarian Data and the Start Network, MapAction has been working on this flourishing component of humanitarian aid.”

The event is being held in Egypt, Africa.

“The African CoP”

“This CoP has been described as the African CoP; it is all about adaptation and resilience, and rightly so,” says MapAction Chair of Trustees Nick Moody, who is in Egypt for CoP27. “In the last 21 months more than 52 million African citizens have been directly affected by drought and floods, and the continent is warming faster than the global average over both land and sea. While we mustn’t forget that every individual has a story, the grinding effects of climate change and extreme events on poverty, food insecurity and displacement at these scales must also be understood through data.”

One of the most efficient methods to deal with the expanding effects of climate change is early intervention. Because of this, MapAction has joined with the START Network, a group that emphasizes innovation, quick finance, and quick action in humanitarian action. 55 international non-governmental organizations and 7,000 partners worldwide are a part of the START Network. In 2022, MapAction also established its own Innovation Hub to tackle some of the most pressing humanitarian issues by utilizing emerging geospatial and data technologies.

From commitment to action

MapAction has vowed to aggressively look for ways to lessen the effects of climate change. We ratified the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organizations in October 2021. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) developed the charter, which was overseen by a 19-person Advisory Committee that included representatives of local, national, and international NGOs, UN organizations, and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as well as academics, researchers, and experts in the fields of humanitarian aid, international development, climatology, and environmental protection.

By approving that charter, we pledge to contribute to the solution and aid in societal adaptation to a changing climate and environment. Additionally, it will help us become more determined and successful in our own attempts to live sustainably. Most importantly, it acknowledges that we must work together to solve this problem since no one organization can do it alone.

We are utilizing geospatial data, data visualization, and data science to begin establishing the foundation for climate resilience with a widening spectrum of partners that are seeking to participate even more locally. The goal is to enhance humanitarian response’s preventative measures and tactics.

We can reduce what we map now by doing so in the future. The science of data collection, analysis, shaping, sharing, and deployment must thus be at the centre of all present and future conversations on coping with climate change.

About the author

Dr. Florence Akano

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