UK Space Agency & Oxford civil engineering consultancy win global awards for sustainable development

Photo shows: Dengue fever is a mosquito-born tropical disease caused by the dengue virus
HR Wallingford Dengue fever

Two UK organisations have won international awards for innovative satellite use to help solve major global challenges.

The UK Space Agency, which has its headquarters in Swindon, received the GEO (Group on Earth Observations) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Award for its International Partnership Programme (IPP).

This is a ‘space for sustainable development’ initiative which invests £30 million each year in projects around the world. Established in 2016, it is currently the largest undertaking of its kind using innovative use of earth observation and other satellite technologies.

A second GEO award went to another IPP project called ‘D-MOSS’ (Dengue MOdel forecasting Satellite-based System). Led by HR Wallingford, an independent civil engineering and environmental hydraulics company based at Wallingford, near Oxford, this pioneering D-MOSS system forecasts dengue fever outbreaks up to six months in advance, allowing authorities to allocate the costly resources needed to control the disease.

In its second year, the GEO awards programme, led by the EO4SDG* initiative, looks to celebrate productivity, innovation, novelty, and exemplary efforts in the use of Earth observations for sustainable development.

(*In case you’re interested…EO4SDG  in full is “Earth Observations for Sustainable Development Goals”.  Supported by the likes of NASA to the World Health Organisation and various departments within the United Nations, it aims to “organise and realise the potential of Earth observations and geospatial information to advance the 2030 Agenda and enable societal benefits through achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals” – try saying that without taking a breath).

The International Partnership Programme is designed to use UK expertise in satellite technology and data services to help solve problems such as reducing deforestation, climate and disaster resilience, food security, education, health, maritime safety and renewable energy. It is a five-year, £152 million programme designed to partner UK space expertise with overseas governments and organisations to deliver sustainable, economic or societal benefits.

The programme has so far funded 43 projects in 47 developing countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, which are run by a large variety of UK and international organisations across industry, academia, and non-profit entities.

Afriqnmun Lovejoy MBE, Head of Sustainable Development at the UK Space Agency, said: “We are immensely proud to receive this award. It is also a timely achievement for the UK in the lead up to hosting COP26 and demonstrates the value of space technology in tackling the impacts of climate change.”

The ‘D-MOSS’ programme, led by HR Wallingford, could eventually help around half the world’s population who are at risk from dengue fever, as well as being used for other vector-borne diseases like malaria and zika. D-MOSS is now live in Vietnam and is being rolled out to six other Asian countries.

Bruce Tomlinson, CEO of HR Wallingford said: “We are thrilled that our D-MOSS system has been recognised in the British Expertise Awards. It is a testament to the huge potential of the system for managing mosquito-borne diseases, as well as the hard work and dedication of the whole D-MOSS team.”

HR Wallingford leads the D-MOSS consortium, working alongside the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the UK Met Office and Oxford Policy Management in the UK, and with many international partners including the United Nations Development Programme,  World Health Organisation, the Vietnamese Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change, the Pasteur Institute Ho Chi Minh City, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Vietnam and the International Medical University in Malaysia, Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology Tay Nguyen (Vietnam), Pasteur Institute Nha Trang (Vietnam), Ministry of Health (Vietnam), Institute for Medical Research (Malaysia). The project is sponsored by the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme, a five-year, £152 million programme designed to partner UK space expertise with overseas governments and organisations to deliver sustainable, economic or societal benefits.

The UK Space sector is thriving, generating an income of £14.8 billion each year and employing thousands of people. Through over 350 new partnerships forged between UK and international organisations, IPP has so far generated £279 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) for the UK economy and supports 3,300 jobs globally, while the UK economy gains more than £2.50 for every £1 invested in IPP projects.