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Interview with Sawaid Abbas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Sawaid Abbas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information System, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan discussed his extensive work in addressing water-related challenges through the nexus between smart sensing and space technologies. His thematic focus spans water scarcity, food security, climate risks, and environmental monitoring with an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, including Pakistan and China. Key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guiding his work include SDG2 (Zero Hunger), SDG13 (Climate Action), SDG15 (Life on Land), and SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).  Abbas's passion for water emerged during his early career at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), where he was involved in Pakistan’s Wetland Program and witnessed the impact of water on associated ecosystems. This sparked his interest in understanding and managing water, forestry, and wildlife resources. He recently studied coastal ecosystems and their responses to climate and anthropogenic stressors in the Asia-Pacific region. The Living Indus – Investing in Ecological Restoration has become a new focus of interest for him, addressing sustainability challenges related to food security, river basin management, and efficient water use in alignment with the UN Decade of Ocean objectives.  Abbas shared his fascination with water, recognizing its complex and essential nature. He is captivated by its beauty in all forms and acknowledges its fundamental importance for life on Earth. This water connection further motivates his commitment to addressing global water challenges and promoting sustainable water use through innovative solutions.  Sawaid Abbas's work, stimulated by both professional commitment and personal fascination, stresses the critical role of space technologies, particularly earth observation, smart sensing nexus, and artificial intelligence in addressing water-related challenges. His research contributes to the development of innovative solutions for sustainable water use, environmental protection, and disaster response, aligning with global goals for a more resilient and water-secure future. 

Interview with Nidhi Nagabhatla, Program/Cluster Lead (Nature, Climate and Health) at United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU CRIS)

You are currently a Senior Fellow and Cluster Coordinator: Nature, Climate, and Health at UNU – CRIS, can you elaborate on your role, and how it relates to water?

The world faces big problems like climate change, water shortages, and health issues. At UNU CRIS, our Nature, Climate, and Health Cluster studies how these problems are linked. We see that climate change makes things like water and food scarce, which hurts people's health. Our research shows how climate change affects water, food, and health security.

Remote sensing in managing, maintaining, and understanding coral reef ecosystems

Coral reefs provide integral services to social, economic, and ecological systems. They support more than 500 million livelihoods worldwide and account for 15% of gross domestic product in more than 20 countries. A quarter of all marine species on planet Earth, representing 28 of the 35 animal phyla, can be found in coral reefs, and novel compounds derived from these organisms provide numerous useful medicinal applications.

Interview with Padmi Ranasinghe, Doctoral student in Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of Texas (UT) - Arlington

Padmi is currently reading for her Ph.D. focusing on Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for climate change risk reduction and resilience cities. She believes NbS can reduce hydro-meteorological hazards such as floods, droughts, and landslides in the long run. It is a strategy to minimize the gaps in decarbonizing and reducing greenhouse gases and a path to Net-zero cities. NbS, are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, benefiting people and nature (IUCN & World Bank, 2022). Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR), ecosystem-based mitigation (EbM), and green infrastructure are some branches under the umbrella of NbS. NbS include conserving forests, mangroves, and wetland ecosystems, halting deforestation, increasing reforestation, climate-smart agriculture, and opening green spaces. According to her, space technology is integral to planning, monitoring, and analysis. Space technology today is so advanced that it can capture and predict changes in the water cycle, climate change variables and so forth. Remote sensing data and satellite-derived information are essential in obtaining accurate data on a specific site anywhere on the Earth's surface. Most recently, she has been involved in projects utilizing urban NbS such as the conservation of Ramsar-Colombo to mitigate urban floods and adapt to climate change. To conduct wetland inventories, space-based data and GIS techniques can be utilized to detect the presence of wetlands and/or water in wetlands. Though there can be some challenges encountered such as limited coverage of specific areas within the wetland, clouds often hiding images, and the low resolution of data making it difficult to differentiate floral species. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) can provide enhanced accuracy and consistency in measuring wetlands, as well as the presence of water in wetlands, using space technologies. Data and technologies from space contribute to watershed management, sediment measurements and many other environmental aspects.

Interview with Nidhi Nagabhatla, Program/Cluster Lead (Nature, Climate and Health) at United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU CRIS)

You are currently a Senior Fellow and Cluster Coordinator: Nature, Climate, and Health at UNU – CRIS, can you elaborate on your role, and how it relates to water?

The world faces big problems like climate change, water shortages, and health issues. At UNU CRIS, our Nature, Climate, and Health Cluster studies how these problems are linked. We see that climate change makes things like water and food scarce, which hurts people's health. Our research shows how climate change affects water, food, and health security.

Interview with Sawaid Abbas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Sawaid Abbas, Assistant Professor at the Centre for Geographical Information System, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan discussed his extensive work in addressing water-related challenges through the nexus between smart sensing and space technologies. His thematic focus spans water scarcity, food security, climate risks, and environmental monitoring with an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, including Pakistan and China. Key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) guiding his work include SDG2 (Zero Hunger), SDG13 (Climate Action), SDG15 (Life on Land), and SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).  Abbas's passion for water emerged during his early career at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), where he was involved in Pakistan’s Wetland Program and witnessed the impact of water on associated ecosystems. This sparked his interest in understanding and managing water, forestry, and wildlife resources. He recently studied coastal ecosystems and their responses to climate and anthropogenic stressors in the Asia-Pacific region. The Living Indus – Investing in Ecological Restoration has become a new focus of interest for him, addressing sustainability challenges related to food security, river basin management, and efficient water use in alignment with the UN Decade of Ocean objectives.  Abbas shared his fascination with water, recognizing its complex and essential nature. He is captivated by its beauty in all forms and acknowledges its fundamental importance for life on Earth. This water connection further motivates his commitment to addressing global water challenges and promoting sustainable water use through innovative solutions.  Sawaid Abbas's work, stimulated by both professional commitment and personal fascination, stresses the critical role of space technologies, particularly earth observation, smart sensing nexus, and artificial intelligence in addressing water-related challenges. His research contributes to the development of innovative solutions for sustainable water use, environmental protection, and disaster response, aligning with global goals for a more resilient and water-secure future. 

Interview with Farid Farhat, Hydrological Modeling Specialist at UNICITI

Could you describe how your professional and/or personal experience relate to water? Where does your interest in space technology for water come from? 

I have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of hydrologic and hydraulic engineering, which is relevant to water. I studied many courses in my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees where I learned how runoff in a watershed is generated from meteorological parameters including rainfall, evapotranspiration and infiltration. I also applied my theoretical knowledge to various projects.

Interview with Farid Farhat, Hydrological Modeling Specialist at UNICITI

Could you describe how your professional and/or personal experience relate to water? Where does your interest in space technology for water come from? 

I have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of hydrologic and hydraulic engineering, which is relevant to water. I studied many courses in my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees where I learned how runoff in a watershed is generated from meteorological parameters including rainfall, evapotranspiration and infiltration. I also applied my theoretical knowledge to various projects.

Interview with Padmi Ranasinghe, Doctoral student in Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of Texas (UT) - Arlington

Padmi is currently reading for her Ph.D. focusing on Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for climate change risk reduction and resilience cities. She believes NbS can reduce hydro-meteorological hazards such as floods, droughts, and landslides in the long run. It is a strategy to minimize the gaps in decarbonizing and reducing greenhouse gases and a path to Net-zero cities. NbS, are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, benefiting people and nature (IUCN & World Bank, 2022). Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR), ecosystem-based mitigation (EbM), and green infrastructure are some branches under the umbrella of NbS. NbS include conserving forests, mangroves, and wetland ecosystems, halting deforestation, increasing reforestation, climate-smart agriculture, and opening green spaces. According to her, space technology is integral to planning, monitoring, and analysis. Space technology today is so advanced that it can capture and predict changes in the water cycle, climate change variables and so forth. Remote sensing data and satellite-derived information are essential in obtaining accurate data on a specific site anywhere on the Earth's surface. Most recently, she has been involved in projects utilizing urban NbS such as the conservation of Ramsar-Colombo to mitigate urban floods and adapt to climate change. To conduct wetland inventories, space-based data and GIS techniques can be utilized to detect the presence of wetlands and/or water in wetlands. Though there can be some challenges encountered such as limited coverage of specific areas within the wetland, clouds often hiding images, and the low resolution of data making it difficult to differentiate floral species. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) can provide enhanced accuracy and consistency in measuring wetlands, as well as the presence of water in wetlands, using space technologies. Data and technologies from space contribute to watershed management, sediment measurements and many other environmental aspects.

Event

Project / Mission / Initiative / Community Portal

Strategic Strengthening of Flood Warning and Management Capacity of Pakistan

This project aims at developing a flood early warning system and building capacity in Pakistan to manage floods. The flood early warning system is primarily composed of Indus-IFAS, an interface mounted with two hydrological models IFAS (Integrated Flood Analysis System ) and RRI (Rainfall Runoff Innundation) models developed by International Centre for Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM)  and the use of satellite based rainfall estimates "Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation (GSMaP)" including a correction interface developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Stakeholder

International Water Management Institute

IWMI is a research-for-development (R4D) organization, with offices in 13 countries and a global network of scientists operating in more than 30 countries. For over three decades, our research results have led to changes in water management that have contributed to social and economic development. IWMI’s Vision reflected in its Strategy 2019-2023, is ‘a water-secure world’.

Tribhuvan University, Institute of Forestry, Pokhara

The Institute of Forestry, Pokhara Campus (IOF-PC), Quality Assurance Accreditation (QAA) certified institution by the UGC, Nepal in September 2022, was established in 1981 as the Central Campus of the Institute of Forestry, one of the five technical institutes under Tribhuvan University, Nepal. The IOF, founded as Nepal Forestry Institute in Singh Durbar, Kathmandu, in 1947, was shifted to Suping (BhimPhedi) in 1957 and again to Hetauda in 1965.

Department of Water Resources and Land Improvement of the Kyrgyz Republic

Department of Water Resources and Land Improvement of the Kyrgyz Republic (hereinafter - Department) is a subordinate division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Improvement of the Kyrgyz Republic (hereinafter - Ministry), ensuring management, monitoring and regulation of the state and use of water resources, facilities of irrigation and land improvement infrastructure and carrying out executive, administrative and coordinating functions on implementation of the single state water policy.

Satsense Solutions Limited

Satsense Solutions Limited is a start-up company that uses satellite earth observation to develop business and governance solutions addressing the challenges of resource management, climate change and sustainable development. It has developed and deployed several applications in the Water Resources, Hydropower, Mining and Infrastructure sectors. These include assessments of eutrophication levels in lakes and reservoirs and sedimentation rates at hydropower plants. Identification of pollution in rivers, acid mine drainage and tailings at mining sites.

Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission

Realizing the importance of Space Science and Technology applications for sustainable national development, the Government of Pakistan established Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission. Being the National Space Agency of Pakistan, SUPARCO is mandated to conduct research and development work in the field of space science, technology and its applications for peaceful purposes and socio-economic uplift of country. Its headquarter is located at Islamabad and technical facilities are spread over Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Quetta, Peshawar and Gilgit.

Remote Sensing, GIS and Climatic Research Lab, University of the Punjab

The emerging demand of GIS and Space Applications for Climate Change studies for the socio-economic development of Pakistan along with Government of Pakistan Vision 2025, Space Vision 2047 of National Space Agency of Pakistan, and achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) impelled the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) to establish Remote Sensing, GIS and Climatic Research Lab (RSGCRL) at University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

IHE Delft Institute for Water Education is the largest international graduate water education facility in the world and is based in Delft, the Netherlands. Since 1957 the Institute has provided water education and training to 23.000 professionals from over 190 countries, the vast majority from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Also, numerous research and institutional strengthening projects are carried out in partnership to strengthen capacity in the water sector worldwide.

The United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS)

The United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) is a research and training institute of the United Nations University. UNU is a global network of institutes and programs engaged in research and capacity development to support the universal goals of the UN. It brings together leading scholars from around the world with a view to generate strong and innovative knowledge on how to tackle pressing global problems. UNU-CRIS focuses on the study of processes of global cooperation and regional integration and their implications.

UN Environment

The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. Our mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Groundwater Relief

Groundwater Relief is a charity that provides specialist groundwater support to the humanitarian and development sectors. The support is delivered through staff and a global membership of groundwater experts.

Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology Pantnagar

G. B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, also known as Pantnagar University, is the first agricultural university in India. The University lies in the campus town of Pantnagar in Kichha Tehseel and in the district of Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand. The university is regarded as the harbinger of the Green Revolution in India. Pantnagar University is regarded as a significant force in the development and transfer of High Yielding Variety of seeds and related technology.

International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre

The International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC) facilitates and promotes international sharing of information and knowledge required for sustainable groundwater resources development and management worldwide. Since 2003, IGRAC provides an independent content and process support, focusing particularly on trans-boundary aquifer assessment and groundwater monitoring.

European Organisation for Meteorological Satellites

EUMETSAT is an intergovernmental organisation and was founded in 1986. Our purpose is to supply weather and climate-related satellite data, images and products – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – to the National Meteorological Services of our Member States in Europe, and other users worldwide.

Center for Space Science and Geomatics Studies (CSSGS), Pashchimanchal Campus, Institute of Engineering (IOE), Tribhuvan University

The Center for Space Science and Geomatics Studies (CSSGS) is the research center with a focus on space science and geomatics applications in the following themes: disaster management, water quality, glacier, precision agriculture, air pollution, water pollution. Research areas also focus on the application of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) in forestry, agriculture and engineering.

University of Energy and Natural Resources

The University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 830, 2011 on December 31, 2011. The University is a public funded national institution which seeks to provide leadership and management of energy and natural resources and be a centre of excellence in these critical areas.

TÜBITAK Space Technologies Research Institute

TUBITAK Space Technologies Research Institute (TUBITAK UZAY) is an applied research, technology development, and application-oriented institute. Our core competence is in satellite technologies in system and subsystem levels, however, we diversified our interest into communication systems, remote sensing and data processing, and aerospace technologies.

American University of Central Asia

Founded in 1993, AUCA develops future leaders for the democratic transformation of Central Asia. American University of Central Asia is an international, multi-disciplinary learning community in the American liberal arts tradition. AUCA is the first university in Central Asia to offer US accredited degrees in liberal arts programs through a partnership with Bard College in the United States. In addition to Bard, AUCA maintains partnerships with a number of universities and organizations worldwide.

Rural Water Supply Network

The Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) is the global network for rural water supply professionals, with 11,000 members in more than 150 countries. RWSN is a strategic global platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration in the water sector with a central focus on the achievement of universal access to safe, affordable water supplies.

UK Space Agency - International Partnership Programme

The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP) is an award-winning >£150 million space for sustainable development initiative which utilises the UK space sector’s capabilities in satellite technology and data services to deliver measurable and sustainable economic, societal and/or environmental benefits in partnership with developing countries.

Water, Peace and Security Partnership

WPS is a partnership of research and civil society organizations that work together towards identifying water-related risks of human insecurity, fragility and conflict, and towards developing analytical and dialogue tools for preventing and mitigating such conflicts. WPS is a collaboration between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a consortium of six partners: IHE Delft (lead partner), World Resources Institute (WRI), Deltares, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), Wetlands International and International Alert.

University of Zimbabwe: Department of Construction and Civil Engineering

The Department of Construction and Civil Engineering at the University of Zimbabwe is one of the 8 departments in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment.The department is already a major center for water and sanitation engineering through its MSc programmes which have produced graduates from eastern and southern Africa. The department also boasts of soil and material and timber research facilities which can be used to benefit the country at large.

H2O Geomatics Inc.

H2O Geomatics is a research spin-off from the University of Waterloo. The company uses state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies to turn Earth Observation (EO) data into products and information tailored to meet end-user needs in various domains of application. H2O Geomatics is also conducting R & D activities on machine learning algorithms to handle big EO datasets as well as the development of environmental risk assessment tools for climate-dependent sectors such as agriculture and water resources management.

Services offered by the company include:

National Mission for Clean Ganga, Ministry of Jal Shakti

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) is a comprehensive one with high priority for research and evidence-based decision making and has a special place for use of new technology including Geospatial technology. NMCG Authority order of Oct’ 2016 states that the pollution in River Ganga and its tributaries shall be monitored by the use of satellite imagery and other remote sensing technologies.

Person

Photo of Ioana Popescu

Ioana Popescu

Associate Professor of Hydroinformatics IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

Ioana Popescu is currently Associate Professor of Hydroinformatics at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in Delft, The Netherlands. Her research focuses on computational methods, aspects of flood modeling and vulnerability related to floods, lake and reservoir modeling and water supply systems modeling and optimisation. She is particularly interested in integrating mathematical models into decision support systems. Data is key in model development, hence she explores all sources of data, from EO to in situ data and is for the FAIR data sharing.

Photo of Dr. Sawaid Abbas

Sawaid Abbas

Assistant Professor Smart Sensing for Climate and Development, GIS Centre, University of the Punjab Centre for Geographical Information, University of the Punjab

Sawaid is a spatial data scientist who works at the nexus of earth science, ecology and climate change through leveraging remote sensing, machine learning, and strong domain knowledge. His key work involves forest succession, drought, and rangelands which were accomplished through collaboration with institutions like WWF, ICIMOD, ICRAF, AFCD, and KFBG.

Photo of Ioana Popescu

Ioana Popescu

Associate Professor of Hydroinformatics IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

Ioana Popescu is currently Associate Professor of Hydroinformatics at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in Delft, The Netherlands. Her research focuses on computational methods, aspects of flood modeling and vulnerability related to floods, lake and reservoir modeling and water supply systems modeling and optimisation. She is particularly interested in integrating mathematical models into decision support systems. Data is key in model development, hence she explores all sources of data, from EO to in situ data and is for the FAIR data sharing.

Photo of Arjen Haag

Arjen Haag

Researcher / Consultant Hydrology and Water Management Deltares

Arjen is interested in the physical processes that shape our surroundings, especially the flow of water, and the proper management of our natural resources. He is a hydrologist and remote sensing analyst with a special interest in understanding high river discharges and floods. He combines hydrological knowledge with modelling, data-driven approaches and satellite observations, on topics ranging from water resource management to flood forecasting.

Software/Tool/(Web-)App

Bhuvan Ganga App

Bhuvan Ganga App is ISRO’s mobile application developed to enable public to collect and report information on various pollution sources that affects the water quality of river Ganga. This mobile app will provide a platform for crowd sourcing to monitor pollution in river Ganga and enable decision makers at National Mission for Cleaning Ganga (NMCG) under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India to prioritize interventions.

Bhuvan Ganga Geoportal

Bhuvan Ganga Geoportal provides platforms to manage, access, visualize, share and analyze geo spatial data, non-spatial data products and services towards spatial mashups to support NMCG objectives of environmental and ecological improvement within the Ganga River basin.