China will set up an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS), announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his speech at the 75th United Nations General Assembly on September 22, 2020. CBAS will facilitate the implementation of Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
CBAS aims to harness big data to serve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, featuring multidisciplinary research related to Earth system science, social and economic sciences, as well as sustainability science. It is devoted to monitoring and evaluating indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas where big data plays a key role, including environmental commons, urban and peri-urban development, food security, and energy decarbonization.
Development Concept and Vision
To address the most challenging problems in the implementation of the SDGs, such as technological barriers and lack of data, CBAS provides a range of essential services including data sharing, technology solutions, decision-making support, a think tank, and capacity building for developing countries.
CBAS works towards a vision where data is open and accessible across borders and disciplines, technology is available to support the entire policymaking process, and knowledge and ideas are communicated and grown, especially among developing countries.
CBAS is committed to building a public big data science and technology platform in service of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, integrating scientific research, data services, technological innovation, policy-making support, and capacity building, with a goal of achieving the SDGs around the world.
Collectively, CBAS will leverage big data infrastructure, disciplinary platforms, and decision support systems, and pool strengths from relevant stakeholders to build itself into an international research center capable of comprehensive services to make progress on the SDGs.
1. Develop SDG data infrastructure and information products
CBAS will develop an SDG-relevant big data platform featuring high-performance computing, big data analysis, artificial intelligence, and cloud services. The data-driven platform is equipped to receive, process, distribute, and share big data, and will serve as a one-stop infrastructure for SDG indicator monitoring and evaluation.
2. Develop and launch a series of SDG satellites
In accordance with the specific needs of SDG indicators, CBAS will develop and operate a series of SDG satellites to provide data for SDG research.
3. Provide new knowledge for SDG monitoring and evaluation
The unique characteristics of each SDG indicator will guide the development of technical solutions and theoretical systems driven by big data to better measure the progress of SDGs.
4. Establish a think tank for science, technology, and innovation to promote SDGs
With a focus on science, technology, and innovation, CBAS will build a think tank to address the scientific issues arising in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and therefore to support effective policymaking for a more sustainable future.
5. Provide capacity development for SDGs in developing countries
CBAS will provide professional education and training relevant to big data for developing countries for enhanced capacity building.
Based on the research strengths and big science facilities within the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) research institutes, as well as on collaboration with wider scientific communities, CAS highlights the role of science, technology, and innovation in the implementation of SDGs from a multi-disciplinary perspective.
In 2018, CAS launched the Big Earth Data Science Engineering Program (CASEarth) to study how Big Earth Data can facilitate the implementation of SDGs. The research outcomes of the program have laid a solid foundation for the establishment of CBAS from the following aspects:
1. Big Earth Data Infrastructure
The Big Earth Data prototype system is based on the Digital Earth Science Platform, integrating data management, computing, analysis, and services. It supports the whole lifecycle, from data to information and visual simulation. The Big Earth Data prototype system has a visual environment featuring natural interaction and intelligent analysis, and can carry out thematic demonstrations using Big Earth Data to support SDGs.
2. Digital Belt and Road Decision Support System
The system can carry out resource and environmental assessments, Big Earth Data analysis, and SDG indicator evaluation. The data sources are provided by China-made satellites.
3. Multidisciplinary Research Team
CASEarth has over 1,200 researchers from 129 research institutions at home and abroad. Their research fields include high-performance computing, big data technology, space technology, and ecological and environmental science.
4. International Partnership Network
CASEarth was included in 2030 CONNECT, which is a United Nations online technology platform for the SDGs, and became one of its 24 partners in September 2020. The Digital Belt and Road Program (DBAR), an international science program supported by CASEarth, has involved 57 countries and international organizations, established nine international working groups, and set up eight International Centers of Excellence globally.
5. Reports on Big Earth Data in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals
Reports on Big Earth Data in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals drafted by CASEarth, as an official document of the Chinese government, were released at the 74th and 75th Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly.
6. Big Earth Data Concept and Technical Framework