The mission of DBAR is to mobilize Earth observation scientific knowledge, technology and data to enable the Belt and Road countries to sustainably develop their infrastructure, economy, natural resources and culture, and support decision makers towards meeting the SDG targets relevant to the Belt and Road countries.

The spectrum of Earth system processes relevant to understand and model the response of terrestrial and marine ecosystems to climate and development in the Belt and Road region is extremely wide and complex, from fragile coral reefs to high elevation glaciers. Advancing scientific knowledge will require a well–balanced combination of detailed in–situ experiments and accurate retrieval of surface observations from the radiometric data acquired by satellites. The latter is a major challenge even using the well documented bio–geophysical data products generated by the space agencies in U.S., Europe, China and Japan.

Some of the Belt and Road countries are operating a growing fleet of Earth observation satellites and there is overall a solid knowledge-base, but so far, the investments in the development and generation of accurate data products has been limited. Also, merging raw data acquired by multiple satellites into a stream of multi–source data products is uncharted territory, both from a policy and a technological point of view. On the other hand, the opportunity offered by the B&R Initiative to bring the Belt and Road data assets to full fruition for the common benefit cannot be missed.

At this stage, it is hard to identify specific "show–stoppers", i.e. major gaps in knowledge, human and technological capacities, which may block achieving program and projects objectives. A system of capacity building should be designed and implemented to remove or mitigate other obstacles.

To translate the vision outlined above into reality, the DBAR will address multiple science and capacities challenges by:

  • Identifying outstanding knowledge gaps and structure a comprehensive and well-articulated research program. To initiate such effort a set of nine Foci has been identified and briefly described;
  • Facilitating the convergence of resources to support the implementation of identified projects in the Belt and Road countries;
  • Promoting and facilitating the improvement and harmonization of national data policies towards free access to both in–situ and space–borne Earth observation data;
  • Improving the quality of bio-geophysical data products and the richness of the set of data products to capture the Earth system processes;
  • Bringing the exploitation of Earth observation data in the Belt and Road countries at a comparable level by a combined action to substantially improve the Information Computer Technology (ICT) infrastructure for data management and analysis and to improve technological and human resources capacities at multiple levels, including achieving full coverage of satellite ground stations;
  • Promoting and developing high level, Earth observation–based information services in the Belt and Road countries to advance the fruition of past and future investments in the shared Earth observation infrastructure by wider involvement of user communities.
The uniqueness of the DBAR mission is the well–balanced effort towards advancing Earth System Science and mitigating the obstacles along the path to effective use of the Earth observation infrastructure of the Belt and Road countries.