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Geospatial related tools like GIS, CAD and GNSS, together with major roles involving earth observation will be important. The COP16 Conference is poised to ratchet up the pressure on world nations to come to some sort of agreement on issues relating to carbon and it’s impact on the environment. That has not be achieved as yet, although it appears that Latin American countries seem more interested in reaching a common goal and have outlined strategies to do so – but the debate is far from over.

In a sense geospatial technologies are responsible for adding ‘fuel to the fire’ so to speak – in a positive way. Through remote sensing and airborne imagery we have access to and witness many of the changes being debated. From glaciers decreasing in size from the Himalayan to North American to the Andes and Europe. The pictures are in front of our eyes. Increasing ocean levels are prompting at least a few nations to raise flags and to begin planning strategies for adaptation going forward.

In some parts of the world the debates and discussions surrounding climate change have long since passed and people have simply re-calibrated their outlook and included strong economical approaches into their society. The connection being made is that new technologies, new monitoring and new education – to reach sustainability goals – all have economical benefits and can contribute toward innovation, new services and the export of knowledge and expertise.

Other countries seem stuck on debating whether or not climate change is happening at all, a position that precludes acquiring the benefits others are already innovating upon. No doubt the debate is heated.

A key aspect of these discussions is linked to issues related to monitoring of the landscape. To be in a position to discuss the merits of a carbon economy and associated exchange programs, requires access to and availability of reliable spatial data. Without it the situation is akin to operating without a basic foundation for exchange.

Should we begin to think that only monitoring is a contributing factor, then we would equally be incorrect. The design buildings, transportation systems, carbon capture strategies and technologies etc. are all part of the greater carbon equation. A key point to keep in mind as we look toward developing these extended aspects of the broader carbon picture is that they produce value-added services and greater efficiencies. This contributes toward nudging a shift from raw resource exporting nations toward becoming developers and producers of high-technology, value-added components – further and more deeply adding to well-rounded economies.

There are no magic bullets to improve the situation. It will take hard work and a commitment to change. But without realising the benefits that higher quality geospatial data provides and the extended benefits it can produce, the target is much harder to find and aim toward.