United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs

Space Technology and Disaster Management

Under the theme "Space benefits for humanity in the twenty-first century", the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) was held in Vienna from 19 to 30 July 1999. In its resolution 1, the Conference adopted The Space Millennium: Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development, that was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 54/68. The Vienna Declaration recommended 33 specific actions that should be taken to enable space technologies to contribute to the solution of global challenges of the new millennium. One of the recommendations put forward was the need "to implement an integrated, global system, especially through international cooperation, to manage natural disaster mitigation, relief and prevention efforts, especially of an international nature, through Earth observation, communications and other space-based services, making maximum use of existing capabilities and filling gaps in worldwide satellite coverage".

The use of space-based solutions and information has increased significantly since UNISPACE-III. The use of such technologies has been proven useful in the risk assessment, mitigation and preparedness phases of disaster management. As the global community learnt from the tsunami event of December 2004, space technologies have a central role to play in providing early warning to communities that are at risk. But in order for developing countries to be able to incorporate the use of space technology-based solutions there is a need to increase awareness, build national capacity and also develop solutions that are customised and appropriate to the needs of the developing world. This was the main goal of the space technology and disaster management programme carried out by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, between 2000 - 2004.

The Office organized a series of regional workshops on the use of space technology for disaster management bringing the results of the regional workshops to an international workshop, held in Munich, Germany, in October 2004. At that workshop, 170 participants from 51 countries agreed on a global strategy that would help developing countries to gain access to and be able to use space technology for disaster management, a strategy put forward as the Munich Vision: a Global Strategy for Improved Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Using Space Technology (A/AC.105/837, annex).

Participants recognized that space-based technologies such as Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, meteorological satellites and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) played an important role in risk reduction and disaster management, and made a number of recommendations in the areas of capacity development and knowledge-building; data access, data availability and information extraction; enhancing awareness; and national, regional and global coordination.

The recommendations and conclusions put forward by the participants of the various workshops, including the final workshop in Munich, were taken into consideration by the ad hoc expert group that was studying the proposal of a coordinating entity that should be created and that would be a "one-stop shop" to provide support to the disaster management community at large, that would be a platform for fostering alliances, and that would also contribute to bridging the gap between the disaster management and space communities. Subsequently, by its resolution 61/110 of 14 December 2006, the General Assembly decided to establish the proposed United Nations Platform for Space-based Information 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 by being a gateway to space information for disaster management support, serving as a bridge to connect the disaster management and space communities and being a facilitator of capacity-building and institutional strengthening, in particular for developing countries ( http://www.unspider.org).


Activities Carried Out

Activity City Date Programme Participants UN Report Presentations
United Nations International Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management Munich, Germany 18-22 October 2004 CLICK HERE
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United Nations/Saudi Arabia Regional Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management for Western Asia Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 2-6 October 2004 CLICK HERE CLICK HERE A/AC.105/836 CLICK HERE
United Nations/European Space Agency/ Government of Sudan Regional Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Natural Resources Management, Environmental Monitoring and Disaster Management Khartoum, Sudan 4�8 April 2004 CLICK HERE CLICK HERE A/AC.105/828 CLICK HERE
United Nations/Islamic Republic of Iran Regional Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Environmental Security, Disaster Rehabilitation and Sustainable Development Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran 8-12 May 2004 CLICK HERE CLICK HERE A/AC.105/833 CLICK HERE
United Nations/Romania Regional Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management for Europe Poiana Brasov, Romania 19-23 May 2003 CLICK HERE CLICK HERE A/AC.105/808 CLICK HERE (External Link)
United Nations Regional Workshop on the Use of Space technology for Disaster Management for Asia and the Pacific Bangkok, Thailand 11-15 November 2002 CLICK HERE CLICK HERE A/AC.105/800 CLICK HERE
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United Nations Regional Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management for Africa Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1-5 July 2002 CLICK HERE CLICK HERE A/AC.105/794 CLICK HERE
United Nations/Chile/European Space Agency Workshop on the Use of Space Technology in Disaster Management for the Benefit of Countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region La Serena, Chile 13-17 November 2000 NOT AVAILABLE NOT AVAILABLE A/AC.105/747 NOT AVAILABLE


Space Technology and the World Conference on Disaster Reduction

The World Conference on Disaster Reduction, which took place in Kobe from 18-22 January 2005, was the largest event ever of the disaster community. OOSA was present to ensure that the past and future contributions of space technology to disaster reduction and disaster management were reflected in the various outcome documents. The Director of the Office delivered a statement to the Plenary and also a presentation during the thematic session which dealt with space technology. Please check here for information on WCDR.





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