United Nations International Conference on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Management - "A consolidating role in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: 2015-2030", Beijing, China, 14-16 September 2015

Opening Speech by Simonetta Di Pippo

Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)

Honourable Vice Minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Gu Chaoxi, Mr. Li Deren from the Wuhan University, Mr. Ma Xinmin from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Li Guoping, from the China National Space Administration, Mr. Li Xinjun from the Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation, colleagues, ladies and gentleman.

I am delighted to be here to address you at this opening ceremony of "The United Nations International Conference on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Risk Management."

The success of the UN-SPIDER Beijing Office in organising these conferences has been evident since our first one in 2011. . That year, we looked at "Best practices for risk reduction and rapid response mapping" in 2011. In 2012 the Conference investigated "Risk assessment in the context of global climate change" and the following year we looked at "Disaster risk identification, assessment and monitoring". Last year, the theme was "Multi-hazard disaster risk assessment". These conferences offered a forum for disaster management communities and experts to strengthen capacities  in using space-based information to identify, assess, monitor and respond to disaster risks and integrate space technology into long-term disaster risk management efforts.

This year, we will concentrate on "Risk assessment in the context of global climate change".

At the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Sendai, Japan, in March of this year, UNOOSA, recognizing the current challenges in the use of Earth observation technologies in disaster risk reduction, took a leading role in ensuring that Earth observation and the use of space-based technologies be included in the "Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: 2015-2030". During the Conference, UNOOSA, alongside our partners, launched the Global Earth Observation Partnership which aims to ensure the inclusion of Earth Observation and satellite-based tools into global efforts for disaster risk reduction and develop a synergy framework for Earth observations in support of national strategies for disaster-risk management. UNOOSA also co-organised a working session on "Earth observation and high technologies to reduce risks"

As a follow-up to these many efforts, this conference will bring together experts and end-users involved in using Earth observation in all stages of disaster management to synthesize experiences and lessons learnt. The conference should provide guidelines to address important questions such as:

  • What are the gaps in disaster mitigation that can be bridged by Earth observation?
  • Earth Observation can facilitate the decision-making process for disaster risk management. Can this be improved and can we go beyond Earth Observation to integrate other  space technologies?
  • Are the existing mechanisms sufficient to ensure that information is delivered to first responders when they need it most?
  • What are the opportunities for enhanced collaboration between public and private Earth observation providers?
  • How can space-based technologies empower the communities to prepare for disasters?

The UN-SPIDER programme has strengthened disaster management in many countries. This conference brings our partners together, including member states and technology providers. This is an opportunity to learn from each other's experiences and strengthen our capabilities in using space-based information to respond to disasters and to integrate space technology into long-term disaster risk reduction efforts.

In 2018, UNOOSA will be organising the UNISPACE +50 Conference, so-called to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. UNISPACE+50 will be an important milestone, which will take stock of the contributions of the three UNISPACE conferences (UNISPACE I, held in 1968, UNISPACE II, held in 1982 and UNISPACE III, held in 1999) to global space governance as well as consider the current status and chart the future role of the Committee at a time when actors, both governmental and non-governmental, are increasingly getting involved in ventures to explore space and carry out space activities.

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there is a growing recognition that this major target argues for stronger space governance and supporting structures at all levels, including improved spatial data infrastructure.  UNISPACE+50 will align to the 2030 Agenda where stronger space governance and supporting structures are required to protect the space environment and secure the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. All UN Member States are invited to attend and to share in shaping the space agenda.

I also invite all participants of this conference to take advantage of being hereto build contacts, seek exchanges and develop the basis for future collaborations.  We have provided a list of participants along with the agenda to facilitate this networking potential. Beside the plenary sessions, there are three special sessions, which will give an opportunity for everyone to interact and contribute in the conference.

Present at this conference are participants from the countries that have received UN-SPIDER Technical Advisory Missions. I urge representatives of these countries to implement the recommendations of these missions and provide  updates on the progress. Representatives of other countries may take this opportunity to discuss with UN-SPIDER staff members about opportunities to have such advisory missions in their countries.

I thank the Ministry of Civil Affairs for co-hosting this event. I also thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA), and the Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation for supporting the conference as collaborators. Special thanks to DigitalGlobe for their generous sponsorship of the conference, supporting emergencies and participating in the capacity building programmes organised by UN-SPIDER.

I am sure, at the end of three days, the participants will be able to enhance their knowledge and take away specific ideas to plan activities with UN-SPIDER in 2016 and onwards. I wish you a very successful conference and pleasant stay in Beijing.

Thank you!


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