The 2014 winner of the Volvo Environment Prize, Professor Eric Lambin, is a remote sensing pioneer who uses advanced data collection and satellite images to understand land use and human influence on the planet. The methods he and colleagues developed that couple satellite images and socioeconomic data are often referred to as the people-to-pixels approach.
Lambin divides his time between Stanford University in California and Université Catholique de Louvain in his native Belgium. Lambin has been developing his techniques for decades, and he has applied the approach to tracking land use changes on the impact of trade and demand for biofuels or food crops.
It’s now approaching the point where businesses, nongovernmental organizations and governments can monitor in almost real time environmental impacts from human activities. His research on reforestation in Vietnam revealed intricate and complex patterns as well as cascade effects of human activities that affect forests and other natural resources.
The Volvo Environment Prize (www.environment-prize.com) was founded in 1988 and has become one of the world’s most prestigious environmental prizes. The prize is awarded annually to people who have made outstanding scientific discoveries in environmental sciences and sustainable development. The prize consists of a diploma, a glass sculpture and a cash sum of SEK 1.5 million
In the words of the jury, “Eric Lambin has successfully bridged social, geographical and biophysical disciplines in order to advance the global understanding of land use change and what it means for human well-being.”