Open-access book on Earth observation for risk reduction and enhanced resilience in the HKH region launched

24 Sep 2021
The open-access book is available for free download from our institutional repository and Springer’s website

As HKH countries face greater threats from climate change, satellites can be enormously useful given the limited access to ground data in the region. Despite the proliferation of free and open-access satellite data and technology, their use in decision making by governments and civil society is fairly limited in our region. Recognizing this fact, we compiled a recently released open-access book – Earth Observation Science and Applications for Risk Reduction and Enhanced Resilience in Hindu Kush Himalaya Region: A Decade of Experience from SERVIR – which was launched virtually on 25 August 2021.

Co-published with Springer, the open-access book is a consolidation of lessons learnt and experiences gathered from our efforts to utilize Earth observation (EO) science and applications to address environmental challenges in the HKH region. The book chronicles a decade’s worth of experience gleaned over the course of our implementation of SERVIR-HKH – a joint initiative of NASA, USAID, and ICIMOD – to build capacity on using EO and geospatial technology for effective decision making in the region.

Launch programme

Joining the launch programme virtually from the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Daniel E. Irwin, SERVIR Global Program Manager, shared that NASA’s robust constellation of Earth-observing satellites make pioneering observations to understand the Earth as a system and monitor and protect the planet. SERVIR was created over 15 years ago to provide such meaningful and actionable information to aid decision making on the ground. Over the years, the programme has grown into a network of five regional hubs supporting over 50 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Congratulating ICIMOD on the book launch, Irwin shared that the book reflects 10 years of SERVIR’s experience in the HKH region. He added, “The book is not only a scientific resource but also a source of inspiration and wisdom for the EO and development communities at large.”

Basanta R. Shrestha, ICIMOD’s Director of Strategic Cooperation, noted that the book launch is a landmark event for ICIMOD. He remarked that SERVIR augments ICIMOD’s capability in bringing cutting-edge EO and geospatial science and technology applications to the region and makes meaningful contributions to HKH countries through technology transfer and capacity building. He added, “For an interdisciplinary knowledge centre like ICIMOD, SERVIR has played an important cross-cutting role and helped mainstream geospatial technology and applications into our regional programmes and thematic areas.”

Pete Epanchin, Senior Climate Adaptation and Resilience Advisor, USAID, congratulated the editors – Birendra Bajracharya, Rajesh Bahadur Thapa, and Mir A. Matin – for completing the monumental task of editing a volume and also authoring some of the 19 chapters, while managing the day-to-day activities at SERVIR-HKH. The three editors worked closely with 68 contributing authors and 44 reviewers to chronicle SERVIR’s experiences in developing data-driven solutions to aid informed decision making regarding environmental challenges in the HKH region. Epanchin added, “This book shares SERVIR-HKH’s experiences and lessons learned in implementing a collaborative, user-centric, and socially inclusive approach to designing and delivering services that help governments and civil society stakeholders identify and manage risk. SERVIR’s consultative approach to improve access to timely, actionable information strengthens our partners’ ability to address the complex challenges of the 21st century.”

Pema Gyamtsho, ICIMOD’s Director General, launched the book for global release from the ICIMOD headquarters in Kathmandu, Nepal. Gyamtsho shared that the HKH region – a global asset for biodiversity, water resources, peoples, and culture – is also highly vulnerable to climate change. He stated, “Unless we have the means, the tools, and the knowhow, we will not be able to address this crisis. SERVIR is more relevant now amidst this climate crisis and is helping our Regional Member Countries map out and understand climate-induced disasters, food security, land cover change, and water resource management.”

ICIMOD’s Rajesh Bahadur Thapa moderated the overall discussion, Birendra Bajracharya, briefed the audience on key highlights and messages from the book, and Mir A. Matin delivered the vote of thanks at the launch event.

More about the book

The open-access book will serve as a good reference document for professionals and practitioners working in remote sensing, geographic information systems, regional and spatial sciences, climate change, ecosystems, and environmental analysis. It is available for free download from ICIMOD’s institutional repository and Springer’s website. We are distributing limited printed copies to SERVIR-HKH partners and alumni and the different SERVIR hubs – SERVIR-Eastern and Southern Africa, SERVIR-West Africa, SERVIR-Mekong, and SERVIR-Amazonia.

Utsav Maden

Knowledge Management and Communication Officer