Every February, Member States and observers of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) meet at the United Nations Office at Vienna to carry out the annual session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC) of COPUOS. This year, the STSC conducted its 53rd session from 15 to 26 February 2016. As in previous years, the UN-SPIDER programme reported to the STSC on its annual activities. In this session, Mr. Luc St Pierre, Senior Programme Officer of UNOOSA and Coordinator of the UN-SPIDER Programme made his statement during the STSC to present a summary of the activities conducted in 2015 and to outline those activities to be conducted in 2016. In the context of outreach activities, Mr. St Pierre made reference to:
· The United Nations/Germany International Conference on Earth Observation: Global Solutions for the Challenges of Sustainable Development in Societies at Risk; which was held in Bonn,Germany, from 26 to 28 May 2015;
· The United Nations International Conference on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Management: a consolidating role in the implementation of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, conducted in Beijing from 14 to16 September 2015;
· The Regional Expert Meeting on Access to Information and Knowledge for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response; which was held in Bogota, Colombia, from 12 to 14 August 2015; and
· The East Asia Summit workshop on the topic “Applications of Space Information Technology in Major Natural Disaster Monitoring and Assessment” and the second workshop of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on the topic of “Development of mechanisms for acquisition and utilization of space-based information during emergency response”, which were conducted in Hangzhou, China, from 2 to 5 June 2015.
Mr. St Pierre also made reference to the Technical Advisory Missions conducted to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 6 to 10 July 2015; to the Republic of Honduras from 13 to 18 July 2015; and to Gabon from 7 to 11 December 2015.
Additionally Mr. St Pierre commented on the efforts conducted by the staff of the programme to enhance the use of the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal through the incorporation of dedicated content including links to websites that host satellite imagery and products derived from satellite applications, information on the Sendai Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; recommended practices on the processing of satellite imagery of specific kinds to generate specific products, as well as information on a variety of activities conducted by UN-SPIDER and its partners.
He also made reference to the activities conducted by the UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices and training activities conducted by the programme including:
· The Training workshop on landslide hazard mapping, risk and vulnerability which was held in Thimpu,Bhutan, from 17 to 21 August 2015;
· The International training course on Earth observation technologies for earthquake damage assessment, conducted in Beijing from 17 to 22 September 2015; and
· A Training workshop which was in Jackson, Mississippi, United States, from 12 to 14 October 2015;
In the context of technical advisory support, he mentioned the Expert Mission to El Salvador which was conducted from 9 to 10 July 2015 and the project entitled “Strengthening Early Warning Systems for Droughts” (SEWS-D) which is being conducted by UN-SPIDER and nine international, regional and national partners in Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. He also made reference to efforts conducted to support countries experiencing disasters including Nepal (earthquake) and Vietnam (drought).
Mr. St Pierre concluded his remarks making reference to activities to be conducted in 2016, including technical advisory missions to Benin, Georgia and Nepal; international conferences and expert meetings, training activities, as well as the UN-SPIDER+10 international event to be held in June 2016 in the premises of the United Nations Office at Vienna.