24 Jun 2024 18:10

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Earth Observation Could Drive $3.8 Trillion in Economic Growth by 2030

Earth observation data can catapult global growth and eliminate up to 2 gigatonnes of emissions per year – equivalent to the annual emissions of 476 million gasoline-powered cars.

The global value of EO data is predicted to swell from $266 billion today to over $700 billion by 2030, rivalling the GDP of medium-sized economies.

A greater global adoption of key technologies – including AI, digital models and climate technology – can unlock sustainable, innovative climate and nature solutions.

A new World Economic Forum report released showcases the dual economic and environmental value of Earth observation (EO) data, which has the potential to drive over $3 trillion in cumulative economic benefits globally by 2030, while advancing a wide range of climate and nature solutions.

Amplifying the Global Value of Earth Observation, published in collaboration with Deloitte, integrates perspectives of a group of 40 industry, technology and climate leaders committed to driving sustainable value through EO applications. The report breaks down the economic potential of EO technologies across sectors and shows how increasing their adoption worldwide could propel the shift to a nature-positive and net-zero global economy.

“Earth observation is a vital component of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Jeremy Jurgens, Managing Director and Head of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the World Economic Forum. “It converges with artificial intelligence, digital twins and climate technology to offer a powerful toolset for economic prosperity and sustainable growth.”

While six sectors stand to capture 94% of the projected economic value of EO – agriculture; mining, oil and gas; government; electricity; supply chain and transport; insurance and financial services –organizations across nearly all sectors and industries can benefit from them. Key to this is the dual value that EO data offers through direct environmental benefits translating to indirect economic ones.

For instance, in the agriculture industry, equipping farmers with better information about plant health can improve crop yield while fertilizing and irrigating more sustainably. Within financial services, in particular insurance providers, EO data can help organizations to better understand and mitigate environmental risks, to include adapting investment decisions to favour environmentally sustainable assets. These and other examples show how data-driven decisions can benefit both the environment and the bottom line.

“As EO data approaches mainstream accessibility, organizations across nearly all industries stand to benefit from these valuable sustainability insights,” said Jennifer Steinmann, Deloitte Global Sustainability leader. “Earth data can play an instrumental role in helping organizations understand their impacts and dependencies on nature, comply with sustainability regulations and shape strategies that contribute to a nature-positive and net-zero economy.”

According to the report, the global value of EO data could swell from $266 billion today to just over $700 billion in six years – which rivals the GDP of a medium-sized economy such as Belgium ($628 billion) – and could add a cumulative $3.8 trillion contribution to global GDP between 2023 and 2030. The Asia Pacific region is poised to capture the largest share of EO’s value by 2030, reaching a potential value of $315 billion, while Africa and South America are positioned to realize the largest percentage growth.

In addition, EO data has the potential to eliminate 2 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year – an amount equivalent to the estimated combined annual emissions of 476 million gasoline-powered cars, which is almost twice the total number of cars as there are in the European Union today. More broadly, an increased uptake in the use of EO data could stimulate innovation, drive efficiency and help leaders better manage risks.

Although the promise of these technologies is wide-ranging, increasing their adoption across sectors and geographies is not without challenges, according to the new report. Barriers include limited awareness of EO applications, a shortage of specialized talent, fragmented standards, and difficulty navigating the complex EO marketplace—all of which can result in limiting uptake of this technology globally.

Informed, forward-thinking policy-making and leadership will be crucial to unlock and maximize the transformative economic and environmental opportunities EO presents. Collaborative action across the value chain – which focuses on stimulating demand, advancing the use of AI and other enabling technologies and establishing key standards needed to make Earth data ubiquitous – will be critical to drive sustainable economic growth and benefit the planet for generations to come.


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