Regional Cooperation in Space Applications

As expressed in ESCAP resolutions 68/5 and 69/11, the application of space technologies and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have contributed significantly towards addressing issues relating to sustainable development. Specifically, disaster risk reduction and disaster management, as well as the environment and development in the region. This was further reiterated through strong acknowledgement and key commitments in the Rio+20 outcome document on information and communications technologies, in the areas of space and GIS applications. This additional recognition covers the importance of comprehensive hazard and risk assessments, knowledge and information sharing, including reliable geo-referenced information and the importance of early warning systems. This forms a part of effective disaster risk reduction at all levels, in order to reduce economic and social damage including the loss of human life.

ESCAP has taken many steps to address the challenges of building resilience in multi-dimensional ways. Through its long standing Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development (RESAP), ESCAP has made concerted efforts to promote the application of space technology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for supporting disaster risk reduction and inclusive and sustainable development. For example, in times of disaster and emergency, and to avoid the loss of life and minimize economic losses, ESCAP responds promptly to requests for support by disaster affected member States. This is achieved by immediately mobilizing satellite derived products and services, through the network of space agencies within RESAP, at the onset of each disaster and upon receiving requests for support from affected countries. Satellite derived products and services include scenes of near real-time and archived satellite imagery as well as damage maps, provided by RESAP members and ESCAP’s strategic partner UNITAR/UNOSAT.

Furthermore, ESCAP gives high priority to capacity-building programmes. For example, during 2012-2013, ESCAP has conducted a series of training workshops and specialized training on space technology and GIS applications with the long-term vision of effective disaster risk reduction, which benefitted approximately 400 governmental policymakers, administrative officials, planners, professional staff, researchers and project managers from around 30 developing countries in the region. Some of these capacity-building activities are conducted through RESAP training nodes at the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP) in Dehradun, India, and training partners in China, Indonesia, Thailand and other countries, and in collaboration with ESCAP’s strategic partner UNITAR/UNOSAT.