Improved indicators for the integrated assessment of coastal sustainable development based on Earth Observation Data

Li Zhang, Jian Zuo, Bowei Chen, Jingjuan Liao, Min Yan, Linyan Bai, Dewayany Sutrisno, Mazlan Hashim & M. M. Abdullah Al Mamun

Target 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 14) depicts a better future regarding the capacity of coastal environments to cope with several developmental challenges. However, gaps in the data and indicators restrict the effective implementation of this global plan. In this context, under the umbrella of the Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) Program, the DBAR_COAST working group (WG) aims to solve the problems of coastal sustainable development along the Maritime Silk Road (MSR). This paper demonstrates the recent efforts of the DBAR_COAST WG to develop indicators based on Earth observation (EO) data (i.e. the natural coastal protection index (NCPI), the local proportion of habitats protected index (LPHPI), and the coastal eco-erosion index (CEEI)), which complement the existing indicators related to SDGs 14.2, 14.5 and 14.7. These indicators all satisfy indicative, robust, scientifically sound and accessible data principles. Based on them, both the coastal protection (NCPI = 0.97) and protected area coverage (LPHPI = 0.38) in the MSR still had much room for improvement in 2020, and pressure from aquaculture expansion (CEEI = 0.11) showed significant regionally spatial heterogeneity. These indicators serve to provide a guideline for indicator-based assessment in monitoring the progress toward achieving SDG 14.

Figure 1. The geospatial data produced by the DBAR_COAST WG in 2020 (coastline, mangrove and aquaculture pond).

Figure 2. EO-based indicators and how they relate to SDG 14 targets and indicators. Symbols are courtesy of The Global Goals (

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