Professor Doreen Boyd from UoN Rights Lab recognised with GEO award

November 9th, 2020

Professor Doreen Boyd has been awarded the 2020 GEO SDG special category award in ‘Academia’ for the use of Earth Observation to identify and track the scars left on Earth by industries known to have high levels of exploitative labour practices.

Professor Boyd, Professor of Earth Observation in the School of Geography, is an Associate Director of the Rights Lab, a Beacon of Excellence that brings together the world’s largest and leading group of modern slavery scholars at the University of Nottingham, with the aim of delivering research to help to eradicate modern slavery.

Together, they have built a large-scale research platform for ending modern slavery, responding to the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7. Through five main research programmes, including the Data and Measurement Programme directed by Professor Boyd, they deliver new and cutting-edge research that provides rigorous data, evidence and discoveries for the global antislavery effort.

The satellite Earth Observation (EO)-driven ‘Slavery from Space‘ project, led by Professor Boyd and drawing expertise from multiple UoN Faculties, affords understanding of distribution and prevalence of a form of human rights abuse typified by hidden populations (modern slavery) – a crucial first step in its eradication.

The team uses Earth Observation to identify and track over time the scars left on the Earth by the industries known to have high levels of exploitative labour practices.

Since Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 intersects with other Sustainable Development Goals, in delivering against it, the Rights Lab contributes to the wider sustainable development agenda.

As such, a number of governments and Non-Governmental Organisations now use the EO-derived intelligence.

Professor Boyd said: “The work we are doing is all about the Freedom Dividend. If we can free every single slave, we can live in a safer world, a greener world and a more prosperous world and that’s what’s driving our work.

My work has always been driven by the link between people and pixels – and looking at what is happening on Earth is something I’ve always done. I’m now excited by the prospect of using the ever-advancing technologies we have to help eradicate modern slavery.”

Launched last year, the GEO SDG Awards Program, led by the EO4SDG initiative, recognizes institutions, organizations and countries that are applying Earth observations towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Find out more here.

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