Supporting environmental and social safeguards frameworks

Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), governments and public sector agencies have over time developed policies and frameworks (“safeguards”) to identify, avoid and minimise harmful and adverse effects on people and the environment, with a particular focus on preserving and strengthening the long-term sustainability of ecosystems.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) or strategic environmental assessment (SEA) both attempt to predict the likelihood of environmental impacts emanating from development proposals. Satellite Earth Observation (EO) provides the biophysical baseline existing in a given geographic space which is a necessary pre-condition for effective SEA and EIA. The more commonly employed baseline data types used in safeguard assessments such as elevation, land cover and use, meteorology, hydrology and geology, can either be derived directly from EO satellite data or extrapolated efficiently.

Index insurance is an important risk management tool in development as it helps stabilise income for smallholders when yields are affected by weather. By basing insurance premiums and payouts on a pre-determined and measurable index derived from EO (e.g. precipitation, vegetation index NDVI, biomass production, relative evapotranspiration) an index insurance approach has substantial potential for scale up.

Environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment; monitoring and evaluation for environmental and social safeguards

Most significant agriculture sector programmes or projects financed by MDBs will have a requirement for strategic environmental assessment (SEA), environmental impact assessment (EIA) or environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) to take place prior to MDB Board approval. 

EIA and ESIA have been a standard safeguard requirement for MDBs for decades, and I are now consistently applied by partner countries. SEA is a newer initiative, the purpose of which is to assess the environmental implications of policies, programmes, and plans (PPPs). Both SEA and EIA attempt to predict the likelihood of environmental impacts emanating from development proposals.  Satellite Earth Observation (EO) is a powerful technique for understanding the biophysical baseline existing in a given geographic space and for assisting with the monitoring component of environmental management plans (EMPs).

Learn more about environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment

Learn more  about monitoring and evaluation for environmental and social safeguards