Space technologies key to risk reduction

Earth observation technologies enable countries to better integrate geospatial and other key information into global development policies (photo credit: United Nations)
 
By David Singh

GENEVA, 5 December, 2017: A number of meetings and declarations in recent weeks have emphasized the importance of space technologies in supporting UN Member States to implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the global plan to reduce disaster losses by 2030.

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction , Mr. Robert Glasser, commented: “Thanks to technological progress made in the past few years, geospatial information at the right scale and definition can be made available and provides critical elements to better understand exposure to disaster risk due to natural and human made hazards. It can also assist in ensuring a risk-sensitive approach to development planning to avoid the creation of new risk."

The Bonn Declaration, adopted on November 24 at a UN /Germany International Conference on International Cooperation towards Low Emission, Resilient Societies specifically calls on the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the UN OffIce for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to work with the space community and relevant partners to develop robust solutions for disaster risk reduction.

The Bonn Declaration also calls on the World Meteorological Organization, UN agencies, the Group on Earth Observations, and other relevant organizations, to facilitate the identification of relevant satellite data and information to respond to requests from stakeholders, particularly from developing countries, in order to help with implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement on climate and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Declaration calls on UNOOSA and UNISDR to build on the pilots of the Committee of Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), and the UN Platform for Space-based information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER).

CEOS coordinates civil space-borne observations of the Earth while enhancing international coordination and data exchange. UN SPIDER promotes international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. According to UN-SPIDER, “The pilot programmes involve the use of applications on earth observation, telecommunications and global navigation that support disaster risk reduction and recovery efforts, by providing accurate and timely information for decision-makers.”

One of the recommendations that came out of a recent meeting held by UNISDR on the creation of a global risk assessment framework underscored the use of geospatial, space-based and other emerging technologies to help unpack and understand the interconnected nature of risk.

The Mexico City Declaration, issued last week at the Fifth High Level Forum on UN Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) encourages the continued and productive integration of geospatial and statistical information as well as improvement of institutional coordination between national statistical offices and national geospatial and mapping agencies.

This declaration also calls on all involved to capitalize on ongoing digital transformation and emerging technologies, as well to innovate and make use of science and research.

Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific Regional Platforms for Disaster Risk Reduction take place from Africa to the Pacific.
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