The Belt and Road initiative has a significant focus on infrastructure, trade, and economic development across a vast region, and it also provides significant opportunities for sustainable development. The combined pressure of climate variability, intensified use of resources, and the fragility of ecosystems make it very challenging, however, to achieve future sustainability. To develop the path in a sustainable way, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of these issues across nations and evaluate them in a scientific and well-informed approach. In this context, the Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) program was initiated as an international venture to share expertise, knowledge, technologies, and data to demonstrate the role of Earth observation science and technology and big Earth data applications to support large-scale development. In this paper, we identify pressing challenges, present the research priorities and foci of the DBAR program, and propose solutions where big Earth data can make significant contributions. This paper calls for further joint actions and collaboration to build a digital silk road in support of sustainable development at national, regional and global levels.
- big Earth data
- Digital Belt and Road program (DBAR)
- Earth observation
- international cooperation
- research data
- sustainable development goals (SDGs)