United Nations/Austria Symposium: "Space Applications for Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action"

1-3 September 2020

Online event via WebEx

Key Information and Documents


Registration CLOSED

Deadline to propose abstracts for presentations: 19 June 2020 [CLOSED]
Deadline to register for the event: 16 August 2020 [CLOSED]

Please note that participation will be limited to the maximum number of selected applicants as per capacity of the online platform.


The 2020 UN/Austria Symposium "Space Applications for Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action" takes place from 1-3 September. It discusses how space technologies support climate action.

Climate action is one of the most pressing priorities for action within the Sustainable Development Goals framework. The last 5 years were the hottest on record and 14 of the 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000. Average sea levels have risen by 23 cm since 1880 and by 9 cm in the last 25 years. Earth observation is an essential tool to monitor these changes: out of the 50 essential climate change variables, 26 can only be measured from space. Space technologies can contribute significantly to global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This becomes evident when mapping contributions of space-based technologies to the SDGs: out of the 169 SDG targets, 65 are reliant on geolocation or Earth observation.

The event aims to showcase concrete climate action cases through demonstrations of applications using space solutions. Users of space applications present lessons learnt and experts discuss the role of space applications in climate-related policies.

Specific policy discussions enable exchange of experiences and know-how on how to incorporate space applications and tools for climate action in environmental policy. The overarching objective of the Symposium is to offer users, with particular focus on developing countries, an opportunity to explore tools, policies, and approaches that could be adopted in their respective regional, national or local context.


The UN/Austria Symposium has taken place under the Programme of Space Applications of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Graz, Austria, since 1994. Since the first Symposium entitled "Enhancing Social, Economic and Environmental Security through Space Technology", more than 2500 participants have attended the events. They addressed a variety of themes, ranging from security to youth, as well as the use of space for sustainable development, space accessibility, and international cooperation.

The Symposia series has provided a forum for discussion between the different stakeholder groups of the wider space community, including the diplomatic community, statisticians, the private sector and academia, as well as UN entities. The main purpose of the Symposia remains to enable discussions on the use of space tools and applications, on capacity-building and to support policymaking.


The main objectives of the Symposium are:

  1. To foster the exchange of best practices in the use of space applications for concrete climate change mitigation and/or climate-related adaptation activities.
  2. To share know-how and to explore what services are available, demonstrating how they can be accessed and used to support climate action according to national priorities.
  3. To showcase available toolboxes already implemented within case studies or pilot projects with the aim of promoting adoption of tested tools and approaches.
  4. To discuss the role of UNOOSA in implementing capacity-building activities, particularly in developing countries.
  5. To raise awareness in the various user groups, in particular government representatives, the diplomatic community UN and international organisations as well as NGOs on available space-related activities, services and cooperation programs.
  6. To showcase how space-related policies have been developed and how they are used in different countries.
  7. To discuss how international climate related regulations, such as the "Nationally Determined Contributions" of the Paris Agreement, can be fulfilled through the use of space technologies and applications.



The event is structured with three types of interventions:

  • Sessions, where each presentation is followed by a Questions & Answers session with the audience
  • Panels, where each panelist presents their perspective, followed by a debate between panelists and Questions & Answers with the audience
  • Project Pitches, where the presenter presents their project concisely

 Presentation of case studies, pilot projects and lessons learnt in respective countries are welcome.


1 September 2020 

2 September 2020 

3 September 2020 



Welcome ceremony

Keynote presentation

Session 1: Climate Action

Session 2: Energy and natural resources

Project pitch

Keynote presentation

Keynote presentation 

Panel 2: International cooperation and best practices for Climate Action



 Break (60 min)

 Break (50 min)



Project pitch

Panel 1: General principles of international environmental law and space activities  

Project pitch

Session 3: Agriculture and forestry

Project pitch

Session 4: Urban planning and disaster management 



Day 1 - Tuesday, 1 September 2020 (All time Central European Summer Time)
 9:50 WebEx connection opens  
10:00 Introduction  
Introduction Welcome and housekeeping  
10:05 Welcome ceremony  
Moderators: Otto Koudelka (Technical University Graz) and Irmgard Marboe (University of Vienna)
Gabriella Sellner Federal Ministry European and International Affairs, Austria  
Margit Mischkulnig Federal Ministry Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), Austria  
Heinz Mayer Joanneum Research, Austria  
Hans-Martin Steiner Austrospace  
Stephan Mayer Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG)  
Siegfried Nagl Mayor of the City of Graz  
Luc St Pierre United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs  
10:45 Keynote presentation  
Three decades of Earth observation for climate monitoring - what has been achieved, what challenges are next? Josef Aschbacher European Space Agency
11:15 Break (15 minutes)  
11:30 Session 1: Climate Action  
Chair Nathalie Ricard United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Chat moderator Luc St-Pierre United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Space-based observation support for the Paris Agreement Joanna Post United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
User-centric satellite solutions for effective climate actions Annalisa Donati EURISY
Free data policy and environmental regulations: urgency for climate change action Marcia Alvarenga dos Santos National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Brazil
Climate change in Indonesia's new developmentalism Yunita Permatasari National Institute of Aeronautics and Space LAPAN, Indonesia
12:50 Break (70 minutes)  
14:00 Project pitch  
Developing a dengue outbreak prediction model in a smart city platform Ana Cristina Galhego Rosa Dipteron, Germany
14:05 Panel 1: General principles of international environmental law and space activities  
Chair Yvonne Karimi-Schmidt University of Graz, Austria
Chat moderators Irmgard Marboe and Cordula Steinkogler  University of Vienna, Austria
Panelists Niklas Hedman United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Sergio Marchisio   Sapienza University of Rome, Italy and ECSL
Eva Schulev-Steindl  Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Austria
Jonathan Lim Jus Ad Astra, Australiat
15:45 Project pitch  
Space technologies closing the loop for food systems on Earth Lee Recht Aleph Farms, Israel
16:00 Wrap-up & adjourn  
Day 2 - Wednesday, 2 September 2020 (All time Central European Summer Time)
 9:50 WebEx connnection opens  
10:00 Welcome  
10:05 Session 2: Energy and natural resources  
Chair Nina Kickinger United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs - Space4Water Portal
Chat moderator Nathalie Ricard United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
The role of microsatellites in reducing industrial methane emissions Adina Gillespie GHGSat, Canada
Space assets for mapping of mineral resources on the seabed João Carvalho ISQ, Portugal 
Using satellite data to empower communities in low-infrastructure regions Celia Davies  Omanos Analytics, UK
11:15 Project pitch  
Using space technology to combat the role of microplastics in climate change Funmilola Adebisi Oluwafemi National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Nigeria  
11:20 Break (15 minutes)  
Assessing geo-hazard vulnerability of urban areas using satellite data Pablo Ezquerro Martín Spanish Geological Survey
11:40 Keynote presentation  
She-Space international: facilitating access to academic space education and state of the art technologies Shimrit Maman  EPIF, Ben-Gurion University of Negev, Israel
12:10 Break (50 minutes)  
13:00 Session 3: Agriculture and forestry    
Chair Shrish Ravan United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Chat moderator Otto Koudelka Technical University of Graz, Austria
Earth Observation for agriculture Clement Atzberger University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
Converging space technology and local community to combat desertification  Kavya Kamepalli International Institute of Aerospace Engineering and Management, Jain University, India
Farm sustainability tool for nutrients  Luigi Scatteia
PwC, France
Monitoring of forest health Matthias Schardt Joanneum Research, Austria
14:20 Project pitch  
Space-based assessment of climate change impacts: increasing urban resilience in African cities Elisabeth Bergler Regional Academy of the United Nations / Alpen Adria University
14:25 Break (15 minutes)  
14:40 Session 4: Urban planning and disaster management  
Chair Coen Bussink United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs - United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster management and Emergency Response 
Chat moderator Luc St-Pierre United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Disaster risk management 2.0: why linking new data sources makes a difference (Prezi) (PDF) Markus Enenkel Perigee, Austria / Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
Assessment of coastal erosion vulnerability using integrated remote sensing and GIS methods Komali Kantamaneni Solent University, UK
Sentinel-1 for fully-automatic monitoring of floods Bernhard Bauer-Marschallinger Technical University of Vienna, Austria
Satellite data for flood prevention in São Paulo Francisco Campos da Costa Catholic University of Santos, Brazil
16:15 Wrap-up & adjourn  
Day 3 - Thursday, 3 September 2020 (All time Central European Summer Time)
 9:50 WebEx connection opens  
10:00 Welcome    
10:05 Keynote presentation  
Space & International cooperation as critical tools for a better future
Full remarks available here.
Simonetta Di Pippo United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs  
10:35 Panel 2: International cooperation and best practices for Climate Action  
Chair Markus Woltran United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
Chat moderators Irmgard Marboe and Codula Steinkogler University of Vienna, Austria
Panelists Christoph Aubrecht European Space Agency / World Bank 
Frederic Bretar French Space Agency (CNES)  
Emmanuel Pajot European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC)
Lori Garver  Earthrise, USA 
Eri Nakajima Ministry of the Environment, Japan  
11:45 Conclusion  
Nathalie Ricard and Luc St Pierre (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs);
Otto Koudelka (Technical University Graz) and Irmgard Marboe (University of Vienna)
12:00 Close  


Working Language

The working language of the Workshop will be English. All participants are required to have good English language skills.

Working Methods

Speakers at the Symposium are requested to deliver via WebEx an oral presentation or a demonstration of a tool on the topic of "Space Applications for Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action".

On Monday, 31 August 2020, the presenters will have the opportunity to conduct a test run of their presentations online. 


The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and Austria  are responsible for organising the Symposium. It is supported by the Federal Ministry Republic of Austria European and International Affairs, Federal Ministry Republic of Austria Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, European Space Agency, AUSTROSPACE, the City of Graz, Joanneum Research, University of Vienna and Graz University of Technology.  

Expected Participants

The Symposium is limited to a total of 250 participants. It addresses members of the diplomatic community, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, research and development institutions, policy-and-decision makers, senior experts, scientists, engineers and university educators, in particular from developing countries. Representatives from the different permanent missions of United Nations Member States in Vienna will be invited to the Symposium, together with representatives of various United Nations entities and other international organisations, with the objective of fostering dialogue not only between policy-makers, but also with the private sector and end users. Representatives from the space application industry are also welcome to attend and present their solutions.

The Office of Outer Space Affairs strives to support gender mainstreaming in its programmes and is also committed to ensure a balanced representation from different perspectives.  Applications from female applicants are particularly encouraged.

Contact Information

For additional information on the Symposium programme, please contact: unoosa-events@un.org

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