Assessing sustainable development prospects through remote sensing: A review

Remote Sens Appl. 2020 Nov;20:100402. doi: 10.1016/j.rsase.2020.100402. Epub 2020 Sep 3.


The Earth's ecosystems face severe environmental stress from unsustainable socioeconomic development linked to population growth, urbanization, and industrialization. Governments worldwide are interested in sustainability measures to address these issues. Remote sensing allows for the measurement, integration, and presentation of useful information for effective decision-making at various temporal and spatial scales. Scientists and decision-makers have endorsed extensive use of remote sensing to bridge gaps among disciplines and achieve sustainable development. This paper presents an extensive review of remote sensing technology used to support sustainable development efforts, with a focus on natural resource management and assessment of natural hazards. We further explore how remote sensing can be used in a cross-cutting, interdisciplinary manner to support decision-making aimed at addressing sustainable development challenges. Remote sensing technology has improved significantly in terms of sensor resolution, data acquisition time, and accessibility over the past several years. This technology has also been widely applied to address key issues and challenges in sustainability. Furthermore, an evaluation of the suitability and limitations of various satellite-derived indices proposed in the literature for assessing sustainable development goals showed that these older indices still perform reasonably well. Nevertheless, with advancements in sensor radiometry and resolution, they were less exploited and new indices are less explored.

Keywords: Decision support system; Indices; Natural hazards; Natural resource management; Sustainability.

Publication types

  • Review