Science Summit 78th United Nations General Assembly

18 September 2023, 8.00 AM - 18 September 2023, 11.00 AM

Prof David Gordon, University of Bristol Prof Bjorn Hallerod, University of Gothenburg

Hybrid Event: In person and Online

The Bristol Poverty Institute are delighted to be co-convening a session at the UNGA Science Summit in collaboration with some of our global partners.

78th UNGA Press Release (Office document, 205kB)

Advanced Tools for Analyzing Poverty, Climate and Environmental Changes.

Schedule for 18th September 2023 UNGA (Office document, 16kB)

Introduction and aims

The 21st Century has witnessed the rapid development and availability of harmonized international survey data (such as MICS, DHS, LSMS, EU-SILC and the Luxembourg Income Study) which have revolutionized the analysis of poverty, health and living conditions in low, middle and high-income countries. In addition, the ability to use and analyze visual satellite data has improved rapidly. While survey data gives information about how people live, satellite data provides information about available infrastructures, e.g., roads, electrification, building and urbanization and environmental challenges such as flooding, deforestation and agricultural water scarcity.

The aim of the session is to bring researchers together to discuss:

- How to improve survey measurement of child and family poverty, in order to produce globally comparable measures.
- How to use the advances in satellite-based information to analyze poverty, living conditions and environmental challenges.
- How to combine large scale survey data and satellite data to better understand causes and consequences of poverty and environmental challenges facing today’s societies.

This session will help to set a new standard for our ability to inform policy makers about how to balance and combine social and environmental policies in order to achieve long term and sustainable poverty alleviation.


In the session, we bring together researchers engaged in novel approaches to develop measures, monitoring, and understanding for both the causes and the consequences of poverty. The session will consist of six presentations and time for questions and answers chaired by Delamónica, a member of the Data and Analytics team in UNICEF.

Despite many decades of progress, hundreds of millions of people still live in extreme poverty. Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic and political turmoil, armed conflicts, and environmental challenges do not only threaten to halt recent improvements but reverse many of the gains in poverty reduction. This will be disastrous for millions of women, men and children and also drive mass migration, putting additional pressure on political systems and possibly also affecting the ongoing deterioration of the global environment.

The UN and the governments of the world agreed to eradicate poverty during the 21st Century but they currently have no suitable, valid, reliable and comparable global poverty measure with which to monitor progress towards this goal. In their presentation, Gordon, Mack, Najera and Nandy will outline their work on this issue, showing successful examples and pointing the way forward towards globally comparable consensual survey-based measurement of poverty. Nazari will describe both the process and the results of estimating child poverty using consensual measurement in Iran.

Understanding the impact of environmental conditions is of central importance because of ongoing climate changes, increasing land use and decreasing biodiversity. Bates, Neal, Sampson, Smith, and Wing will present their work on the consequences and costs of flooding based on satellite data and precise information on the geographical distribution of populations. The work gives us more precise information of the costs of flooding and provides information on how to take action to minimize future risks for people living in areas exposed to flooding and limiting the economic costs related to flooding.

Similarly, Gordon, Owoo, and Zhang have combined geocoded extreme weather-related disaster data with social survey microdata to understand and measure multidimensional vulnerability to climate change in Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, using indicators of a greater risk of harm based upon robust criteria and scientific evidence. The analyses pinpoints and profiles local areas exposed to weather-related disasters and whose communities are especially vulnerable to the impacts from such events.

Ekbrand, Halleröd, and Zhang use detailed satellite data from a large number of countries to estimate deforestation between 2000 and 2020 and combine these data with survey data on poverty. The preliminary analyses exhibit large geographical heterogeneities between deforestation and poverty, which points towards the need for more in-depth studies that include structural socio-economic conditions such as the alternative land use once an area is deforested, trade, industry, and political conditions.

Daoud will present innovative research combining deep-learning, satellite technologies and survey data on human development, recreating historical and geographical human-development trajectories using satellite images from 1984 to 2022. These data measure poverty with unprecedented temporal and spatial granularity and enable us to start examining causality with greater precision.

Expected outcomes

All presentations demonstrate how to significantly enhance the use of available data to better understand poverty and living conditions at a global scale and in a comparable manner. Combining improved measurement of poverty with environmental data on flooding, deforesting, erosion of farmland through drought and other climate related changes will give us a deeper understanding of the challenges we are facing to eradicate poverty and improve peoples’ lives. A buildup of complex data that spans longer time periods will further enhance our ability to move from descriptions and correlations to causation. An outcome of this session will be an advanced analysis of poverty, flooding and deforestation, the latter being an important cause of flooding.

Research on poverty is at a transformative stage in providing policy makers with the high-quality knowledge they require to improve and monitor anti-poverty policies. It is particularly important to know who are poor, what are the consequences of poverty and what are the causes. However, it is also increasingly urgent to provide knowledge about the relationship, both short- and long-term, between environmental challenges and poverty. We need to better understand consequences and causes and also provide useful knowledge about how to mitigate consequences of irreversible environmental changes by reducing vulnerability and increasing the population’s resilience. Linking poverty and environmental change to the global economic and political system also illustrates the fact that what we are facing is a global challenge with a diverse local face.

Contact information

You can see the programme without registering but to JOIN any Virtual or In-Person session you need to register, which will allow you to select the sessions you want to attend. Only by selecting the session, will you see the button link to access the Video Stream.

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