News - Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Belfer Center

Geospatial Science & Technology for Sustainable Development in Africa: Partnerships and Applications

| June 7, 2009

Conference at the Harvard Kennedy School, May 28–29, 2009

This conference, co-sponsored by the Association of American Geographers and the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Harvard Kennedy School brought together members of public and private donor organizations with those from institutions and industry engaged in the application of geospatial science and technology to assess development needs, formulate responses to those needs, and successfully implement sustainable development programs in Africa.  Its goal was to insure that public and private sector initiatives that rely on geospatial tools, techniques, and applications achieve a high level of integration in the areas of database requirements and standards, methodologies, and strategies for sustainability.  Enhancing private sector linkages with government and nongovernmental initiatives already underway, as well as with ongoing academic and scientific research efforts, will help further capacity building and coordinate public policy applications across regions and themes.

Opening Remarks by Lee Schwartz, Office of the Geographer and Global Issues, U.S. Department of State:

I would like to join the previous speakers in welcoming this group of select experts, scholars, practitioners, and colleagues to the what I am confident will be two days of productive, and hopefully enjoyable, dialogue on geospatial science activities, challenges, and opportunities for sustainable development in Africa.

Emerging geospatial science and technology not only comprises a field that is near and dear to all of us here, but — if applied appropriately — also promises to benefit and sustain development activities throughout Africa.

I am optimistic that my discipline, Geography, and its approach, methodologies, and tools can help address many of the most serious problems our world is faced with.

It is with just this kind of optimism for the role of geography in mind that I have high hopes that the use of GIS, Remote Sensing, and related geospatial tools, applications, and analyses can be applied by our discipline's collective group of researchers, methodologists, and practitioners in a way that will, indeed, make a difference.

As we move our dialogue forward, it is most critical to fully understand and capture the relationship between our scientific activities and the implementation of solid policies — for good governance, effective management, public policy formulation, and a more humane treatment of our societies.

There is an emergence of private-sector geospatial enterprises attempting to meet the region's analytical and mapping needs; as well as a concrete effort to establish a regional space program that benefits from the initiatives taken by South Africa and Nigeria.

Our challenge in promoting a dialogue along these lines for the next couple of days is to work together to help insure that happens.


Thursday, May 28

Registration and sign-in for Day 2 working groups Nye Conference Room, 5th Floor, Taubman building

Welcome and Opening Remarks:
Calestous Juma, Harvard University, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project

"Geospatial Science & Technology for Sustainable Development in Africa"
Hon. Dr. Wilbur Ottichilo, Republic of Kenya, Member of Parliament

"Global Dialogues for Emerging Science and Technology"
Lee Schwartz, U.S. State Department Geographer

Introduction of Participants


Panel 1: Government Initiatives & Partnerships
Panelists:  Carrie Stokes, U.S. Agency for International Development; Roger Sayre,  U.S. Geological Survey; Maxine Levin, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Fernando Echavarria, U.S. Department of State; Kate Lance, NASA.
Moderator:  John Griffith,  U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Panel 2:  Foundation Initiatives and Partnerships
Panelists:  Anna Brown, Rockefeller Foundation; Susan Sechler, Hewlett Foundation; Chris Gingerich, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Thomas Baerwald, National Science Foundation
Moderator: Candida Mannozzi; Senior Manager, Program Development, Assocation of American Geographers (AAG)

Lunch:  Peter Bol, Harvard University, Director of the Center for Geographic Analysis

Panel 3:  NGO Initiatives & Partnerships
Panelists: Dan Tunstall, World Resources Institute; Jay Pearlman, IEEE; Lilian Pintea, Jane Goodall Institute; Sives Govender, EIS-Africa; Doug Richardson, AAG.
Moderator:  John Kelmelis, Pennsylvania State University

Panel 4:  Academic/Research Initiatives & Partnerships
Panelists:  James Toledano, Clark Univeristy; Andy Nyblade, Penn State; Benjamin Ofori-Amoah, Western Michigan University; Mark Becker, Columbia University, CIESIN; Yonette Thomas, National Institutes of Health
Moderator: Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, George Mason University

BreakPanel 5: Private Sector Initiatives & Partnerships
Panelists: Carmelle Terborgh, ESRI; Juergen Kliem, Trimble; Rebecca Moore, Google Earth; Dermot Barry, Microsoft; Andrea Cook, GeoEye
Moderator:  Edward Funk, Lockheed-Martin

Day Two Objectives: Lee Schwartz, U.S. Department of State

Dinner — The Harvard Faculty Club, 20  Quincy Street

Friday, May 29

"Linkages for Partnerships and Collaboration"
Paul Bartel, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Geographer and Global Issues, Humanitarian Information Unit

"Challenges in Working Across Sectors"
Doug Richardson, Executive Director, AAG


"Keys to Success in Building Partnerships"
British Robinson, Director of Public-Private Partnerships, The U.S. President’s Emergency Response Plan for AIDS Relief, Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator

A Framework for Collaboration — Working Groups

Breakout 1: Health and Population

Session Chair: Nate Heard, Department of State, Office of the Geographer and Global Issues, Humanitarian Information Unit

Breakout 2: Agriculture, Water, and the Environment

Session Chair: Melba Crawford, Purdue University

Breakout 3: Civil Society, Governance, and Sustainability

Session Chair: Dan Tunstall, World Resources Institute

Working Group Reports


Plan of Action

Sives Govender, Executive Director, EIS-Africa

Closing Remarks — Calestous Juma

Conference Presentations (Greater than 5MB):

Conference Presentations (Less than 5MB, in order of presentation):


For more information on this publication: Please contact Science, Technology, and Public Policy
For Academic Citation:Geospatial Science & Technology for Sustainable Development in Africa: Partnerships and Applications.” News, Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Belfer Center, June 7, 2009.