The international conference is organised by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs / UN-SPIDER and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
Language of event:
Disaster risk reduction and combating climate change and its effects are integral parts of social and economic development, and are essential if development is to be sustainable in the future, as also underlined by the Sustainable Development Goals that were launched in September 2015.
The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) addressed the topic of Space and climate change during its fifty-second annual session in Vienna, Austria, in June 2009. In the report of its 2009 annual session, the Committee noted that "the adverse effects of climate change constituted a threat to communities worldwide and were manifested through a variety of processes – such as increasing global average temperature, sea-level rise and the fragmentation and melting of the polar caps”. In addition, the Committee noted that space-based observations complemented by ground-based observations were well suited to monitoring the different manifestations of climate change and the factors contributing to it.
Over the past decades, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has been conducting a variety of international conferences and workshops addressing the use of integrated space technology applications in environmental management, forests management, water management, climate change, and most recently ecosystems.
For example, from 26 to 28 May 2015, UNOOSA and DLR brought together more than one hundred experts to the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany, to discuss ways to bridge the gap between Earth Observation experts and decision makers in order to find Earth observation solutions that match the challenges of governments in societies at risk. In particular, to discuss ways in which Earth observation can contribute to the implementation of the Sendai framework, the Paris climate change agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and to track progress in the various targets that these frameworks include.
DLR conducted from 26 to 28 April 2016 the “DLR Conference on Climate Change 2016: Challenges for Atmospheric Research” with the support of UNOOSA. The conference brought together scientists from national, regional and international research centers and space agencies as well as experts from international organizations including the United Nations to discuss challenges in atmospheric climate research, to consider how space and atmospheric research could support the global stocktaking that has been incorporated in the Paris Climate Change agreement.
In its resolution 61/110, the General Assembly established the United Nations Platform for for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) as a programme within the United Nations to provide universal access to all countries and all relevant international and regional organizations to all types of space-based information and services relevant to disaster management to support the full disaster management cycle. Since 2006 UN-SPIDER has conducted efforts so that the programme serves as a gateway to space-based information; as a bridge to link the space, the disaster-risk and the emergency response communities; and as a facilitator of capacity-building and institutional strengthening, in particular for developing countries.
In 2015, the Committee and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) launched the UNISPACE+50 process as a way to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The UNISPACE+50 process will chart the future role of the Committee, its subsidiary bodies and UNOOSA in the area of global governance of space activities. It will consider ways and means for strengthening their role within the United Nations system and the global space community at a time when the space agenda is becoming increasingly complex and more actors, both governmental and non-governmental, are involved in ventures to explore space and carry out space activities. The UNISPACE+50 process will culminate in June 2018 with the launch of the SPACE 2030 Agenda.
In June 2016, the Committee approved seven thematic priorities where stronger space governance and supporting structures are required to protect the space environment and secure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities to ensure that benefits of this modern collaborative space governance strongly support nations in implementing the 2030 Agenda and reaching its goals. One of these thematic priorities addresses “International cooperation towards low-emission and resilient societies”. Through this thematic priority, the Committee envisions the following objectives:
- To define synergies between climate change mitigation efforts, disaster risk reduction and global development;
- To develop a road map for enhanced resiliency of space-based systems and the affiliation of existing and future Earth observation, global navigation satellite system and telecommunication constellations for disaster risk reduction and climate change monitoring and mitigation;
- To improve integrated space applications approaches and the interoperability of space-based systems and ground/in situ systems;
- To provide requirements to new developers for coverage in geographical areas not sufficiently monitored or applications that need further development; and
- To identify governance and cooperation mechanisms to support this objective.
To contribute to these objectives, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Government of Germany, through the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will conduct the United Nations/Germany International Conference on “International cooperation towards low-emission and resilient societies”. This conference, to be conducted in Bonn, Germany, from 22 to 24 November 2017, will bring together experts from the space and the development community as well as decision makers, researchers and practitioners to discuss and work out recommendations considering this thematic priority as a way to provide input to the UNISPACE+50 process.
The International Conference will be used to discuss ways to incorporate satellite technologies to achieve a better system understanding of disaster risk and the manifestations and effects of climate change. The International Conference will also address ways to strengthen international cooperation, outreach and capacity building efforts to support developing countries. The International Conference will also offer an opportunity to celebrate the 10 years of existence and achievements of the UN-SPIDER Bonn office.
Objectives and Expected Outcomes
The overall objective this International Conference is to contribute to the UNISPACE+50 process, specifically in the context of Thematic Priority 6. The outcomes of the conference include recommendations on:
- Ways to improve existing international cooperation mechanisms as a way to enhance the use of space-based technologies to address those elements that climate change, disaster risk reduction and global development have in common;
- Suitable and sustainable constellations of space infrastructure for Earth observation, global navigation and telecommunication for disaster risk reduction and climate change monitoring, mitigation, adaptation and assessing losses and damages;
- Ways to enhance the combined and complementary use of Earth observation, global navigation satellite system and telecommunication constellations for disaster risk reduction and climate change monitoring and mitigation;
- Approaches to enha
- nce interoperability of space-based systems and ground/in-situ systems and requirements, e.g. for the provision of early warnings and support to better preparedness for disasters;
- Enhanced space applications to address the requirements of the three global frameworks, including their use to contribute to monitor progress in achieving the goals and targets;
- The development of and keeping up to date of an open catalogue of recommended practices to enable access to data, information, products and services.
- Governance and cooperation mechanisms to support these outcomes.
The outcomes of this International Conference are expected to contribute to the elaboration of the road map that the Committee has envisioned as part of Thematic Priority 6, to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including:
- Improved international cooperation on the use of space technologies and applications for adaptation, climate change induced losses and damages as well as for disaster risk reduction;
- Promotion of existing coordination mechanisms established inside and outside the United Nations;
- Raising awareness among decision makers on the benefits of the use of space technologies and applications; and on the need for long-term availability, accessibility and functionality of necessary space infrastructures;
- Identification of synergistic uses of, and improvement of space technologies and applications (Earth observation, global navigation satellite system and telecommunication constellations);
- Promotion of the combined and complementary use of space-based systems and ground/in situ systems.
The outcomes and recommendations of the International Conference will be published as an official report and will be brought to the attention of UNOOSA and the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in charge of the UNISPACE+50 process.
Working Modality for International Expert Meeting
The International Conference will make use of keynote presentations as a way to set the stage for discussion sessions. The International Conference will include High-Level Panels and keynote presentations bringing together decision-makers and experts; presentations by key experts and discussion groups and will include specific side sessions to simulate the use of specific applications to identify their strengths and weaknesses when applied in activities related to climate change and disaster risk reduction.
The presentations will provide an overview on existing space-based services and products as well as on lessons learned regarding their application. Discussion sessions in the format of break-out sessions will target specific topics. Issues to be discussed in these break-out groups will address the objectives and outcomes specified above.