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Hurricanes and early warning systems (image Courtesy of NASA)

From 19 to 21 April 2016 the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) conducted the first meeting of the WMO Disaster Risk Reduction User-Interface Expert Advisory Group on Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems.  The meeting took place in the Headquarters of WMO and UNOOSA was invited to participate along... read more

Publishing Date: 16/05/2016
Discovery Day Geneva 2016

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Group of Earth Observations (GEO), with the support of DigitalGlobe, are organizing the Discovery Day 2016 meeting in Geneva on the 11th of May 2016 at the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization.  It  will provide a high-level perspective on the benefits and applications of space-based imagery and space-derived geospatial information to monitor the effects of climate change, in environmental and natural resource management, and to respond to emergencies and crisis events.

The organizers will present how collaboration around the provision of VHR satellite imagery and geospatial analysis can support the work of various UN... read more

Publishing Date: 06/05/2016
This year El Niño is the strongest since 15 years (Image: NASA).
During a news conference in Geneva on 16 November 2015, the Secretary-General of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Mr. Michel Jarraud, commented that the “Severe droughts and devastating flooding being experienced throughout the tropics and sub-tropical zones bear the hallmarks of this... read more
Publishing Date: 17/11/2015
Stephen O’Brien says that satellite communications are the only technology immune to natural disasters (Image: UN Geneva).

On 14 October at the World Humanitarian Summit Global Consultation in Geneva, the satellite operators Eutelsat, Hispasat, Inmarsat, Intelsat, SES, Thuraya and Yahsat signed the Crisis Connectivity Charter in partnership with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).

In the past years global natural disasters showed an increasing need for safe... read more

Publishing Date: 16/10/2015
Investments in risk reduction can reduce the risk of flash floods (Image: USGS).

On October 07, the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in Geneva, Margareta Wahlström stressed the importance of investments in risk reduction to decrease the risk of potential flash floods in urban areas, as recently experienced in Guatemala, South Carolina (US) and the south of France.

Wahlström outlined that “Improvements in local weather forecasting can help improve early warnings. Risk and... read more

Publishing Date: 12/10/2015
Satellite image of the city of Geneva, Switzerland (Image: NASA)

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is pleased to announce an agreement with the Swiss Government to support the development of new initiatives to advance the use of space-based tools and technology in the various areas of work of Geneva-based United Nations entities, international organisations or non-governmental organisations.

Funded by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, the  agreement aims at increasing awareness of the benefits of space-based tools and technology for environment and natural resource management, humanitarian affairs, peace building and security. Switzerland, a Member State of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), hopes through this collaboration to strengthen the capabilities of Geneva-based entities in using space-based... read more

Publishing Date: 28/08/2015

Two representatives of UN-SPIDER attended the second Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom2) related to the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), scheduled to take place in March 2015 in Sendai, Japan. PrepCom2 took place on 17 and 18 November in Geneva and served to approve the Conference programme of work and develop the draft post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

During the first preparatory session in Geneva on 14 and 15 July 2014, participants had already agreed on a draft agenda and proposed rules of procedure for adoption regarding the WCDRR. Participants of the PrepCom sessions include... read more

Publishing Date: 17/11/2014

The upcoming Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015 is expected to bring together more than 6,000 stakeholders from government agencies, international and regional organizations, the private sector, civil society and non-government agencies. Its main outcome is expected to be a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (Hyogo Framework for Action 2 - HFA-2).

Recognizing the relevance of such a global event, UN-SPIDER has been working with more than 15 partners from the Earth Observation community and from UN and other international, regional and national organizations from Asia, Africa, America, the Caribbean and... read more

Publishing Date: 02/10/2014
Over 1000 participants are gathering in Davos for IDRC 2014 to discuss disaster

On 24 August 2014, the 5th International Disaster and Risk Conference IDRC 2014 started in Davos, Switzerland. This year's topic is "Integrative Risk Management - The role of science, technology & practice".

Over 1000 participants including business leaders, decision makers, practitioners, UN-, IO- & NGO-agents and scientists from more than 100 countries are attending ICRD 2014 to share and discuss new findings and experiences about the broad spectrum of risks societies are facing today.

IDRC included a special session on "Space Observation, GIS and Risk Mapping, which took place on Monday, 25 August. It was chaired by the GEO Secretariat. The presentations held during... read more

Publishing Date: 27/08/2014
Member States delegations convened in Geneva

On 14 and 15 July 2014, Member States and major groups convened in Geneva, Switzerland for the First Session of the Preparatory Committee of Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) to provide clear guidance and inputs to what the post-2015 framework should look like. In March 2015, Member State delegations will come together during the WCDRR in Sendai, Japan, and will agree on a global post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

The preparatory meeting in Geneva included a plenary session during which the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) requested the endorsement of several planning documents related to the conference. Member... read more

Publishing Date: 17/07/2014
OOSA's Director, Simonetta di Pippo, met with representatives

Dr. Simonetta di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), was in Geneva, Switzerland, between 24 and 27 June 2014 to meet with high level representatives of sister agencies of the United Nations system, other international organizations in Geneva and with the Government of Switzerland.

She explored opportunities for collaboration in the sector of space tools and applications. The meetings helped assess the requirements for support from those agencies in the use of space data and products in the realisation of their respective mandates, while at the same time raise the visibility of the Office, its programmes and its initiatives.

Ms Di Pippo met with representatives of the CERN,... read more

Publishing Date: 30/06/2014
It is a biennial forum for improving implementation of disaster risk

The proceedings of the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction are now available. The Platform, a biennial forum with the latest goal of improving implementation of disaster risk reduction through better communication and coordination amongst stakeholders, had taken place in Geneva in May 2013. After four days of presentations and discussions, the Fourth Session called for a shared vision and commitment for the next 30 years.

Among its contributions, the Fourth Session has given... read more

Publishing Date: 16/08/2013
Plenary Summary: Global Platform and Discussions on Post-2015 Framework

The Fourth Session of the Global Platform took place from 19 to 23 May 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. Two of the main output documents are now available: The Chair's Summary and the Communiqué of the High-Level Dialogue.

This final Chair's Summary is a comprehensive account and concise report that highlights the key messages that emerged and comments made following the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Global Platform... read more

Publishing Date: 18/06/2013
Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Martin Dahi

Japan will host the world conference slated to be held next year at which countries will adopt the successor to the current global blueprint for disaster risk reduction efforts,  as announced today at the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction that wrapped up in Geneva.

Delegates at the event called for immediately starting work on developing targets and indicators to monitor the reduction of risk, ahead of next year’s conference, to be held in the Japanese city of Sendai. Martin Dahinden, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Chair of the Global Platform, said the three-day meeting confirmed that the process to develop a successor to the Hyogo Framework is well underway.“There is consensus that the new instrument should build on the HFA and introduce the necessary innovations to address the... read more

Publishing Date: 24/05/2013
Juan Carlos Villagran delivering UNOOSA's statement

The Fourth session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction will be concluded today in Geneva after having been in session for a week. Yesterday, UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER had the opportunity to present a statement. Juan Carlos Villagrán de Léon, Head of the Bonn Office of UN-SPIDER, delivered the statement on behalf of OOSA.

He presented OOSA and UN-SPIDER and reported on the March 2013 meeting of the United Nations Interagency Meeting on Outer Space Affairs during which an open informal session had taken place focusing on space and disaster risk reduction and... read more

Publishing Date: 24/05/2013
Satellites help to respond to disasters, emergencies and crisis.

In a recent article on their website, UNISDR, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, highlights the discussions revolving around the role of space-based information for the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework. The discussions had taken place during an interactive forum on 14 March 2013 in Geneva.

"We need to make these technologies more accessible and educate people on the benefits of new technologies to reduce disaster risks and support... read more

Publishing Date: 19/04/2013
Natural Disasters in 2012

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) last week stated that for the first time in history the world has experienced three consecutive years where annual economic losses have exceeded $100 billion due to an enormous increase in exposure of industrial assets and private property to extreme disaster events.

UNISDR Director, Elizabeth Longworth, speaking at a press briefing on 14 March 2013, said: "A review of economic losses caused by major disaster events since 1980 shows that since the mid-90s there has been a rise in economic losses and this has turned into an upward trend as confirmed by the losses from last year when, despite no mega-disaster such as a major urban earthquake, economic losses are conservatively estimated in the region... read more

Publishing Date: 21/03/2013
UNCCD Executive Secretary Luc Gnacadja: "Do not let our future dry up”

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have kicked-off the 2013 global campaign to drought preparedness and risk management on 13 March during the High-level Meeting on National Drought Policy, which takes place on 11-15 March 2013 in Geneva.

“Droughts have devastating effects on... read more

Publishing Date: 18/03/2013

Under the umbrella of the thirty-third session of the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting (IAM) on Outer Space Activities this week in Geneva, UNOOSA and the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) organized the 10th Open Informal Session entitled: "Space and Disaster Risk Reduction: Planning for Resilient human settlements."

The session was inaugurated by Ms. Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction; Mr. Niklas Hedman, Chief of the Committee Policy and Legal Affairs Section of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and Ms. Helena Molin-Valdes, Coordinator of the “Making Cities Resilient... read more

Publishing Date: 15/03/2013

The 33rd session of the UN Inter-agency Meeting on Outer Space Affairs was inaugurated in Geneva, Switzerland this morning. The three-day event is intended for discussion of current and future activities, emergent technologies of interest and other related matters. The meeting issues a report on it deliberations for the consideration of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the primary UN body that deals with peaceful uses of space and international cooperation in outer space. The meeting also produces, on behalf of the Secretary-General, a report on the coordinated space-related activities of the UN system.

On 12 March 2013 - the first day of the event - a full-day open informal session with participation of Member States was be organized on a theme related to space and disasters. This year's session focuses on "Space and disaster risk reduction: Planning... read more

Publishing Date: 12/03/2013

Work is entering the final stages on UNISDR's new edition of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR13) which will appear in May this year. It is already being hailed by many peer reviewers as a "pioneering" piece of work because of its focus on risk as a major blind spot for the private sector.

UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström, wrapping up a two-day meeting last week with the GAR13's Editorial Advisory Board, concluded that: "How the private sector and governments take on board the key findings of this report will influence trillions of dollars of investment in critical infrastructure in years to come. UNISDR expects that GAR13 will have a profound effect on how disaster risk is managed by major corporations and small and medium... read more

Publishing Date: 11/02/2013

The International Working Group on the use of Satellite data for Emergency Mapping (IWG-SEM) met at the GEO Secretariat/WMO in Geneva to develop joint communication schemes and guidelines for an improved international cooperation in emergency mapping during large scale disaster situations.

During the two day meeting on 15-16 October 2012 the creation of a dedicated communication and information... read more

Publishing Date: 25/10/2012

Archived radar data from the Envisat mission are playing an important role in mapping landslides in Switzerland. The mission’s vast archives continue to prove useful for mapping ground deformation. Landslides are a natural hazard of special relevance in Alpine regions. Earth-observing satellites – specifically those equipped with radars... read more

Publishing Date: 27/09/2012

Three key research centers and a consortium of Internet companies said on Thursday they would work together on a European cloud computing platform to handle the continent's rapidly growing demand for computer capacity.

A statement from CERN, the Geneva-based particle physics organization, said the platform -- dubbed "Helix Nebula-the Science Cloud" -- would be made available to government bodies and industry after a two-year pilot phase. Also participating in the program are the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German-based European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), which like CERN are gathering vast volumes of information that cannot presently be processed. The 13 information technology providers involved include French-based Atos, Paris-based Cap Gemini, UK-based Logica, French... read more

Publishing Date: 08/03/2012

An international information system designed to improve and expand the exchange of data on weather, climate and water will help boost food security around the world, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The UN agency, which launched the system last month (31 January), said it would improve access to meteorological observations and products for stakeholders including the research and disaster risk reduction sectors. David Thomas, chief of the WMO's information and telecommunication system division, told SciDev.Net that the system could bolster food security because crop yield and agriculture depend on variations in the weather, seasons and climate. The WMO can... read more

Publishing Date: 23/02/2012

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