Countries involved in the Belt & Road Initiative are making a collaborative effort to meet the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals after more than 20 Countries agreed on a set of data based evaluation standards on Tuesday.

The Standards, approved in the fourth Digital Belt & Road Conference in Shenzhen, include digitalised criteria for six of the 17 goals, such as zero hunger, clean water and sanitation.

“The UN’s goals give us directions, and our standards present detailed solutions to achieve these goals,” said Guo Huadong, Chairman of the Digital Belt & Road Program at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“Moreover, these goals could be met by many technologies, but we specialise in big data, featuring real-time and large-scale data monitoring and analysis.”

The Digital Belt & Road, Initiated in 2016, is an international science project involving more than 50 countries, international organisations and programmes.

It uses advanced technologies such as ground remote sensing techniques to collect data as well as cloud computing to analyse big data so that its members can make policy decisions.

Guo noted that China has accumulated efficient and practical technologies and solutions from its experiences to pursue sustainable development, citing the example of the nation’s efforts to tackle land deterioration.

The Country has restored 18% of its deteriorated land, ranking first globally.

The programme is designed to share these experiences and improve sustainable development, which has increasingly gained traction in the Belt & Road Region in recent years, he added. Armenia signed a Memorandum of Understanding to join the Digital Belt & Road at the Conference.

Artak Piloyan, Head of the Nation’s Geodesy and Cartography Department at Cadastre Committee, said Armenia is looking forward to improving national land management and environmental supervision capability through its participation in the conference.

The Digital Belt & Road also handed over a data set of a high-resolution cropland map to Mozambique as a gift at the forum. It could be used to monitor natural disasters such as drought and support its agriculture development.

Shukri Farah Ahmed, Deputy Strategic programme leader at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, said at the meeting that the Digital Belt & Road standards give the region an opportunity to understand demands correctly before getting into details.

“In the agriculture sector, it is becoming very difficult & costly every year for governments to gather data in some countries, so they just choose not to invest. And this has led to uninformed policy,” he added.

He said the Belt & Road Countries should learn a community’s needs first in order to collect the right type of information and use the proper tools.

In addition, he stressed the value of partnership in terms of improving the efficiency of sustainable development work, saying “we need to work with each other so that we actually build on what has already been done, rather than repeating”.