As the year 2021 comes to an end, the team at UN-SPIDER wants to take this chance to look back at some of our highlight activities during the year. Dominated by challenges provoked by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and its consequences, the world faced many challenges and will continue to do so in the next year and more years to come.
But not only the COVID-19 crisis challenges the world. In recent years, communities around the world began to experience foreseen and unforeseen impacts of the combination of climate change, improperly planned development processes, uncontrolled urban expansion, population growth, political crises, rising inequalities within and among countries, and improper management of the environment. Many countries and regions in the world faced disasters of various kinds and it is more crucial than ever to use available technologies and explore new possibilities in tackling disasters and their consequences.
It is our mission to “ensure that all countries and international and regional organizations have access to and develop the capacity to use all types of space-based information to support the full disaster management cycle”.
In this article, we want to reflect on some of the activities we have conducted this year, working for this mission.
UN-SPIDER and ZFL carry out Virtual Regional Expert Meeting for Southern Africa
To continue efforts to promote the use of space technologies in disaster risk management, emergency response, and recovery efforts, UN-SPIDER and the Centre for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces of the University of Bonn (ZFL) joined forces to organize the UN-SPIDER / ZFL Regional Virtual Expert Meeting for Southern Africa "Space-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response" from 13 to 15 July 2021. This regional expert meeting contributed to the efforts conducted by UN-SPIDER on disaster risk reduction, preparedness, early warning systems, disaster response, and recovery efforts.
UN-SPIDER International Bonn Conference successfully concluded
The UN-SPIDER programme of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL) of the University of Bonn successfully concluded the UN-SPIDER Bonn International Conference: “Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management in Africa: Networks and Information Technologies in times of crisis”. The virtual conference brought together more than 130 experts and participants from African, Asian, and European institutions to take note of novel applications developed by the space community to contribute to disaster management efforts, and advances by African and European institutions on the use of satellite technologies in their activities.
A final report will be published and made available at the beginning of 2022.
UN-SPIDER / CEPREDENAC Regional Expert Meeting for Latin America
UN-SPIDER and the Central American Coordination Centre for Natural Disaster Prevention successfully concluded the UN-SPIDER / CEPREDENAC Regional Expert Meeting for Latin America: Space-based solutions for disaster risk reduction and response. The virtual expert meeting was carried out between 23 and 25 November 2021 and was attended by nearly 150 participants from many countries in Latin America, the United States, and Europe. The virtual expert meeting was structured in terms of plenary and technical sessions. The meeting brought together experts and participants from national space agencies, disaster management agencies, academia, private companies, non-government, regional and international organizations, and UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices, and students from several universities.
Kazakhstan Regional Support Office
In May 2021, NCSRT and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding to incorporate NCSRT as an UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office (RSO). As an RSO, NCSRT will contribute to the activities carried out by UN-SPIDER in this region of Asia and will participate in events organized by UN-SPIDER. The Joint Stock Company "National Center for Space Research and Technology" (NCSRT) of Kazakhstan is the leading institution in space-related activities.
Furthermore, the programme supported emergency response efforts in several countries and promoted the Universal Access initiative of the Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disasters (also referred to as the “International Charter on Space and Major Disasters”, or “Charter”). UN-SPIDER has been working with relevant institutions in Bangladesh, Honduras, the Gambia, the Solomon Islands, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Vietnam, Panama, and Zimbabwe to support them to become authorized users of the International Charter. In 2021, the International Charter incorporated national disaster management agencies of Armenia, Gambia, Mexico, Mongolia, and South Africa as Authorized Users.
We at UN-SPIDER are looking forward to continuing our efforts in supporting capacity building, institutional strengthening and networking in 2022 (hopefully, on more on-site events again), working together with our well-established network of partners, as well as starting new partnerships.
We are wishing all readers, users, and partners a healthy start to the New Year!