Serving Society with Space Data: SDG 2 - Zero Hunger

When: Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Time: 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EDT

Where: Virtual

Co-hosted by the Space Enabled research group and SWF, this virtual series, Serving Society with Space Data: Innovations in Satellite Applications for Humanitarian and Development Sectors in support of the SDGs, aims to engage a multi-sector audience in discussions on how space technologies and geospatial applications contribute to better outcomes in critical fields around the world, such as energy, food security, poverty, and governance. Held twice a month, the events will bring together stakeholders working in companies, nonprofits, academia, and government to highlight initiatives taken to progress toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using a truly transformative multi-stakeholder approach. The series will highlight real-world case studies as well as opportunities and challenges for expanding the use of satellite data in efforts to achieve the SDGs.  This series seeks to look at ongoing work by a variety of actors, with a special focus on development and humanitarian projects.

Space Enabled and the Secure World Foundation invite participants to help us curate knowledge about the ways that leaders working in critical fields such as energy, poverty and food security are using satellite data to support their work. Each webinar will feature presentations by a group of topical experts, in-seminar data collection through live poll questions, and audience Q+A.

SDG 2: Zero Hunger  | Video

The United Nations has set ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture as part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A rapidly growing global population, socio-economic development, limited production resources and changing climate, play a significant role in increasing the vulnerability of sustainable food systems around the world. Data derived from space technologies such as navigation, communication and remote sensing capabilities play a unique role in addressing food security challenges, and guiding policy makers on today's policies for future food security.

    • Examples of real-world applications of space data to address food security around the world
    • Demonstrate the role of space technology as an effective observation-based policy tool for monitoring food security, and increasing agricultural productivity and production
    • Highlight potential technical barriers that limit the operational use of Earth Observation by decision makers
    • Share pathways of collaboration and coordination between agencies and organizations working on food security


Prof. Dara Entekhabi is the Bacardi Stockholm Water Foundations Professor at MIT in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with joint appointment in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Clark University and Ph.D. degree (1990) in civil and environmental engineering from MIT. He is the Science Team lead for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Soil Moisture Active and Passive (SMAP) mission that was launched January 31, 2015. His research includes terrestrial remote sensing and coupled land–atmosphere systems modeling. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Dr. Arif Husain is Chief Economist and Director of Research, Assessments & Monitoring Division at United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome, Italy. Arif joined WFP in 2003 and since then he has served in many senior positions both in the field and the headquarters. He has also worked for the World Bank and taught at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. His work focuses on analysing food security and welfare conditions in developing countries to inform humanitarian response. His research interests include application of information technologies to improve humanitarian response; understanding linkages between poverty, hunger, conflict and migration; and analysing how global economic shocks impact food security, social protection and emergency and development assistance. Dr. Husain has a PhD in agricultural and applied economics with a minor in forestry from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Anastasia Volkova is a TEDx Speaker, an MIT 35 Under 35 Innovator in APAC and an Amelia Earhart Fellow. In late 2016 she founded FluroSat, and since then has taken the company through a transformational journey of commercialising agricultural science, raising from leading investors (Microsoft M12, AirTree, Space Angels) and growing its decision support platform to support users in more than 14 countries globally. Dr. Volkova’s passion is to make science-based agronomy an industry standard and to foster close collaborations between industry and research delivering continuous benefits to farm resilience and profitability.

Dr Inbal Becker-Reshef is the Director of NASA Harvest (NASA’s Applied Science Program on Food Security and Agriculture housed at University of Maryland) and Program Scientist at the GEOGLAM Secretariat. Her work is focused on the application of satellite information for agricultural monitoring from the field to global scales, in support of decisions in food security and agricultural markets. She worked closely with national and international partners to initiate the GEOGLAM (GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring) Program, adopted by the G20 in 2011  and within this program leads the Crop Monitor initiative which provides global, consensus-driven crop condition assessments on a monthly basis. Her background is in soil sciences and remote sensing and she earned her Ph.D in Geographical Sciences from the University of Maryland.

(Moderator) Dr. Minoo Rathnasabapathy is a Research Engineer within the Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab. In this role, she helps coordinate projects in collaboration with international development organizations, national governments and entrepreneurial companies to apply space technology in support of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Previously, Dr. Rathnasabapathy served as the Executive Director of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), a global non-governmental organization which acts in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, based in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Rathnasabapathy was responsible for leading the operations, business development, strategy, and policy output for SGAC. Dr. Rathnasabapathy earned her PhD in Aerospace Engineering from RMIT University, researching the impact dynamics of novel materials used in aerospace structures. Dr. Rathnasabapathy serves as a Vice President of the Bureau of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Space Technology.

Last updated on June 30, 2020