Background information about the data and tools produced under the Global Human Settlement Layer framework.
The new GHSL Data Package R2023 has been published. Find below the main details.
Our website contains all the details about the methodologies
and the information about the GHSL data (technical specifications and how to cite) and can be used to download the GHSL datasets.
Depending on the product, most of them can be either downloaded by a single file or by individual tiles.
Each tool included in the suite of the GHSL tools with user guides and support material can be downloaded for free from this website.
Feel free to contact the GHSL data support team for any necessity.
Over the past ten years, [the GHSL] has succeeded in transforming earth observation data into accepted statistics on global human built-up and population. This revolutionary project has turned an exploratory research approach into a solid methodology, culminating in March 2020 when the UN Statistical Commission, on the basis of the GHSL data, adopted a worldwide definition of cities and urban areas for the first time ever.
The world’s population reached 8 billion in November 2022 (World Population Prospects 2022), and will likely increase to 8.5 billion by 2030, when the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development comes to an end. The countries of sub-Saharan Africa are likely to account for more than half of this growth. Unfortunately, we have little understanding of the exact location and the conditions under which many people live, in particular the most vulnerable.
New open, inclusive and consistent data can be utilised to assess humanity’s impact on the planet, access to resources, and exposure to risk. These new data and methods, produced in the Global Human Settlement Layer framework, allow generating actionable information to support decision making by governments, organizations and individuals. The development of new methods and the production of accurate geospatial data on population and settlements is the first step for an effective monitoring of the 2030 Development Agenda and its thematic agreements (the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and the New Urban Agenda).
The Global Human Settlement Layer project of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre addresses these needs with spatially detailed information on population and settlements. The GHSL framework relies on three pillars that reflect recent developments in the scientific-technological landscape:
The GHSL products are offered as open and free data. The data range goes from global coverage datasets (e.g. the GHSL Data Package 2023) to pan-European built-up layers (the European Settlement Map) to analytical data (e.g.: the Urban Centre Database).
The GHSL Data Package 2023 consists of multitemporal products, that offers an insight into the human presence in the past (epochs from 1975 through 2020, 5 years interval) and the future (2025 and 2030):
Feel free to Download the GHSL Data Package 2023 report (20 MB) containing the complete information about GHSL open data.
The GHSL framework includes also a growing number of tools that allow production of population grids, settlements classification and geospacial analysis. in compliance to GHSL models and workflows. The publication of methods in the scientific literature is necessary for openness and transparency, but often not sufficient for multilateral democratization of the information production and collective knowledge building. The suite of GHSL Tools allows users to extract features from EO data, apply the Degree of Urbanisation method and conduct GIS analytics also in the framework of the SDGs.
The GHSL produces a whole family of open and free tools to enact the “open input, open method, open output” paradigm of the Global Human Settlement Layer framework.
This supports the endeavours of the European Commission and the partner Organisations of the voluntary commitment to develop a harmonised global definition of cities and settlements launched at the Habitat III conference in 2016.
Some of the tools are built to specifically support the capacity enhancement activities currently carried out jointly by the European Commission Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy, the Directorate General Joint Research Centre and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme to apply the Degree of Urbanisation in support of global monitoring of SDGs and the New Urban Agenda urban targets as recommended by the 51st Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission.