Pacific Island Project wins United Nations Award

Friday, 30 October 2015

The United Nations has recognised the CRC for Spatial Information’s Mapping Exposure to Sea Level Rise in the Pacific Islands Project as a leading initiative dealing with climate change.

This collaborative Project with NGIS Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade allows the Pacific Islands – Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea – to prepare for and adapt to sea level rise brought about by climate change.

In response to the United Nations announcement this week, the CRC for Spatial Information's CEO Dr Peter Woodgate said, "The CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) with support from the Australian Government and NGIS, is delighted to have its work in the Pacific recognised by the United Nations Lighthouse Awards".

"We are proud that this on-the-ground project delivered education and capacity building to the Pacific region. With close links to the Pacific community the CRCSI hopes to continue to bring its expertise to countries tackling the issue of climate change".

The Project provides the fundamental data, skills and tools at-risk communities need to make planning decisions. It trains government decision makers to use online tools and flood maps to understand and mitigate the risks of sea level rise. Using these maps, governments can better understand and communicate climate change risk to local communities and put adaptation plans in place.

Revealed on 27 October 2015 in London, 16 game-changing initiatives from around the world were announced as winners of a prestigious United Nations Climate Change award, The Lighthouse Award.

The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the United Nations Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change.

Momentum for Change is part of wider efforts to mobilise action and ambition as national governments work toward adopting a new universal climate agreement in Paris, France, at the end of the year.

The 2015 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the Momentum for Change initiative, which is implemented with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation, and operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.

“The 2015 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities comprise an impressive range of projects and personal stories that touch on sustainability, climate protection, environmental consciousness and social responsibility”, said Teresa Ribera Rodriguez, Chair of the Momentum for Change Advisory Panel.

“With a record number of applications – more than 450 – this year, the Advisory Panel had a difficult time selecting the best of the best”.

The CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) has been recognised in the 2015 United Nations Lighthouse Awards for the "Mapping Exposure to Sea Level Rise" Project in the Pacific. The CRCSI brought its technical expertise and connections to the spatial industry to deliver a fit-for-purpose innovative solution to empower Tonga, PNG, Samoa and Vanuatu to prepare for sea level rise.

The online mapping tools have received international recognition, first by Google at the White House Climate Data Initiative and now by the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat for COP21 in Paris in December.

The online interactive Vanuatu Globe has provided LiDAR, aerial imagery and flood information to "at-risk" communities in the Pacific. Importantly, it also built the GIS capacity and skills of local practitioners to use the data to understand risks from sea level rise.

Earlier this year the CRCSI and NGIS Australia were able to respond to the Cyclone Pam recovery by adapting the Vanuatu Globe using the data resources of over 200 organisations. Out of the Globe the Crisis Map was born which enabled people to easily obtain critical data in the post-cyclone Pam recovery.

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