Commonsensing in the Pacific

By Peni Komaisavai

A new programme using satellite technology to plan efficiently towards combatting climate challenges has been launched in Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.

‘CommonSensing’ is a project of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Program (IPP) and represents a £17million (US$22 million) investment.

The project aims to build climate resilience in three Pacific Island Countries by improving access to climate financing, enhancing food security and developing disaster risk reduction strategies.

Radiant Earth Foundation is providing the satellite remote sensing technology for the initiative.  Chief Engagement Officer Anthony Burn says the project should improve coordination: “The aim of CommonSensing is to make sure that all of the global and open data sets, satellite drones and aerial data that is out there can actually be collated and provided in a useful user-friendly way by all the stakeholders in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The data from the findings made by CommonSensing will help governments make well-informed decisions about how they use resources in specific areas and enable them to present a stronger case when requesting grants and assistance to boost their climate change programs.

Burn says it is important that governments can very clearly demonstrate climate impact to access the climate fund (such as the Green Climate Fund). “If they feel it is a debunked, they will not fund it, what they want to fund are projects where you can clearly show its’ climate impact and the only way you could do that is having really good data.

 “Knowing that we all have limited resources and we have got to make it count… with this technology we want to help take the ‘guess work’ out of it and help these three countries to make that decisions as to which projects really matter, and more importantly which projects are climate impacted.”

Fiji Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources Deputy Secretary Dr Raijeli Taga says the CommonSensing project will help decision making: “Through the CommonSensing project, the IPP seeks to maximise the practical impact on the lives of the people and … the use of space solutions to solve our specific development challenges, and in doing so increase our capacity to deal with these challenges.”