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Climate change requires Geo-data and calls for global awareness, which is exactly what WGIC strives to accomplish: Robert Hoddenbach 

Robert Hoddenbach, Global Director – Land Asset Integrity at Fugro and Chair of WGIC’s Partnership and Industry Engagement (P&IE) Committee, shares valuable insights into WGIC’s focus on climate change, geospatial solutions, and impactful partnerships. WGIC Secretariat June 30, 2023
WGIC-PIE-Committee-Chair-Interview-Robert-Hoddenbach

WGIC: Thank you for taking the time to speak with the WGIC Communications team. You are leading the largest committee of WGIC, with over 20 members. What factors contribute to the significant interest in this committee among WGIC members? 

Hoddenbach: Being at the helm of the largest committee within WGIC, I believe the popularity and interest in this committee can be attributed to its alignment with the WGIC’s objectives. The Partnership and Industry Engagement (P&IE) committee focuses on enhancing the role of the geospatial industry and bolstering its contributions to the global economy and society. Additionally, we prioritize knowledge exchange and represent the business interests of our members through strategic partnerships with countries and societies. 

WGIC: Could you elaborate on the issues that the P&IE Committee addresses and explain how they align with WGIC’s mission and organizational goals? 

Hoddenbach: The WGIC membership and leadership chose climate change as an overarching theme. This decision is logical for an organization concerned with geospatial matters, as we are in WGIC. Climate change requires Geo-data and calls for global awareness, which is exactly what the P&IE Committee strives to accomplish. 

WGIC: Can you explain why climate change is a crucial topic within the committee’s work? 

Hoddenbach: We observe various geospatial solutions applied to climate change-related themes within our membership. We concentrate on sustainable infrastructure, disaster resilience, and energy transition. These sub-themes are interwoven within the P&IE Committee’s activities. 

WGIC: The committee published a white paper titled Geo-data for Risk Management in a Changing Arctic.” How has this white paper contributed to advancing the committee’s objectives? 

Hoddenbach: The risks associated with the changing Arctic are often overlooked, despite their significant impact on the communities inhabiting that region. We assessed our membership’s capabilities in relation to this area and successfully presented our findings at the Arctic Observing Summit 2022 and other conferences. This white paper now serves as a valuable reference for future work and further exploration. 

WGIC: What is the significance and impact of WGIC’s representation at COP26 and COP27? How do these engagements further the committee’s agenda? 

Hoddenbach: The Conference of the Parties (COP) is a global conference addressing climate change annually. WGIC needs to be present at these conferences to pursue its goals. At COP26 in 2021, we presented our report on greenhouse gas emissions titled “GHG Monitoring from Space: A mapping of capabilities across public, private and hybrid satellite missions” and showcased the solutions held by our members in this area. Among other outcomes, the report enhanced policymakers’ understanding of this issue.  

During COP27 in 2022, we supported the Global Conference of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) and strengthened our collaboration to identify the evolving challenges and needs of the cities and address the same with geospatial technologies. Our industry partners and members possess extensive knowledge and expertise in taking action. We presented tangible examples related to energy transition costs, resilience, and city planning. Geospatial solutions and their impact on climate change are particularly relevant in urban environments. We discussed the support we can offer to cities worldwide, specifically focusing on cities in the global South. 

WGIC: Can you provide more details about the partnership with GCOM? What led to the collaboration between the two organizations, and how do the two organizations leverage each other’s strengths to achieve their respective goals? 

Hoddenbach: GCoM represents a network of about 13,000 cities worldwide that are actively addressing climate and energy challenges. WGIC, on the other hand, represents a diverse membership with a wide range of geospatial solutions that can contribute to tackling these challenges. Our goal is to bring these two entities together as we naturally align and complement each other moving forward. 

WGIC: What are the committee’s plans for 2023 in terms of producing thematic reports, soliciting and reviewing member initiatives, and pursuing partnerships with other associations and groups? 

Hoddenbach: In 2022, we explored various applications of geospatial solutions in the climate domain. However, in 2023, we made a strategic decision to prioritize our partnership with GCoM. At the center of our communication with GCoM was how geospatial technologies from the private sector could enhance the actions of cities to address climate change. This was brought together in the WGIC and GCoM discussion paper titled “Connecting the Dots: Leveraging Commercial Geospatial Capabilities for Climate Action in Africa Project,” which was released at COP27.  As a subsequent step, WGIC and GCoM aim to publish a white paper that documents the available capabilities and capacities of WGIC members, offering assistance in cities’ climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.