EU Science Hub

Principles and applications of the Global Human Settlement Layer as baseline for the Land Use Efficiency indicatorSDG 11.3.1

The Global Human Settlement Layer (GHSL) produces new global spatial information, evidence-based analytics and knowledge describing the human presence on the planet based mainly on two quantitative factors: i) the spatial distribution (density) of built-up structures and ii) the spatial distribution (density) of resident people. Both factors are observed in the long-term temporal domain and per uniform surface units in order to support trends and indicators for monitoring the implementation of international framework agreements. The GHSL uses various input data including global, multi-temporal archives of fine-scale satellite imagery, census data, and volunteered geographic information. In this paper, we present the characteristics of GHSL information to demonstrate how original frameworks of data and tools rooted on Earth Observation could support Sustainable Development Goals monitoring. In particular, we demonstrate the reach of gridded, open and free, local yet globally consistent, multi-temporal data in filling the data gap for the Sustainable Development Goal 11. Our experiments produce a global estimate for the Land Use Efficiency indicator (SDG 11.3.1) for 10,000 urban centers, calculating the ratio of land consumption to population growth rate that took place between 1990 and 2015. The results of our research demonstrate that there is a potential to lift SDG 11.3.1 from a tier 2 as GHSL provides a global baseline for the essential variables called by the SDG 11.3.1 metadata.