UN/Austria Symposium 2021 Post-Symposium Capacity Building Event


Earth Observation Training for Agriculture


Space radar image of Dnieper River, Ukraine. Credit: NASA/JPL


From the monitoring of natural resources to precision agriculture, Earth Observation (EO) and remote sensing play a fundamental role as enabling space-based technologies to achieve sustainable solutions in the global agri-food systems. EO technologies can be a powerful tool for decision makers in agriculture, government, and humanitarian fields to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Following the UN/Austria Symposium 2021 on the theme of "Space Applications for Food Systems", UNOOSA is partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to provide a variety of training courses on the application of EO technologies for agriculture. These online courses aim to raise awareness of the use of EO technologies and remote sensing for agriculture and enhance participants' capabilities to use them.

The trainings are conducted exclusively online and include demonstrations using open source data and software. The trainings consist of both theory and practical applications to consolidate the concepts learnt. The trainings are delivered by subject-matter experts from ESA, ISRO, and NASA. By providing collaborative and interactive learning platforms, the trainings aim to connect participants from across the globe with experts and encourage exchange and flow of knowledge and ideas.

Participation in the training is free of charge.

Target Audience 

The level of difficulty of the courses ranges from beginner to expert. For more information regarding the eligibility criteria and prerequisites for each course, please refer to the respective websites.


The trainings are offered by ESA/NASA jointly and by ISRO in the form of LIVE webinars. The link to the webinar will be provided upon successful registration at their respective websites. Some courses and courses material will be available for viewing after the event has closed.

Course Information

1. Geospatial  Application for Disaster Risk Management

Training provider: UNOOSA and the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Asia and the Pacific (affiliated to the UN)

Course description: The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Asia and the Pacific have launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on "Geospatial Applications for Disaster Risk Management". This MOOC is a free and flexible online training programme available to everyone who wants to enhance their capabilities related to the use of geospatial and Earth observation technologies in disaster risk management.

The MOOC is structured into two tracks consisting of several modules. Track-1 (Basic) targets professionals interested in enhancing awareness of the latest trends in disaster risk management and how geospatial and Earth observation technologies contribute to it. Track-2 (Advanced) targets professionals interested in sharpening skills in use of geospatial and Earth observation technologies in all phases of disaster management.

Dates: The course must be completed within three months from the time of registration. The course ends on 30 November 2021.

Target audience: This course is suitable for government officials and professionals, educators, university students and other stakeholders working in the field of disaster management.

Prerequisites: Track-2 can only be undertaken once Track-1 is completed. There is no prerequisite for Track-1.

Language: English.

Registration: Please click here to register. Registration is open until 15 November 2021.

For more information, please visit the UN-SPIDER website.

2. Agricultural Crop Classification with Synthetic Aperture Radar and Optical Remote Sensing

Training provider: ESA and NASA

Course description: This five-part, intermediate webinar series will focus on the use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) from Sentinel-1 and/or optical imagery from Sentinel-2 to map crop types and assess their biophysical characteristics. The webinar will cover a SAR and optical refresher along with pre-processing and analysis of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data using the Sentinel Application Platform (SNAP) and Python code written in JupyterLab, a web-based interactive development environment for scientific computing and machine learning. The webinar will also cover an operational roadmap for mapping crop type, including best practices for collecting field data to train and validate models for classifying crop types on a national level. The final session of this series will cover crop biophysical variable retrievals using optical data.

Languages: The course is available in English and Spanish.


Course in English: October 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, at 14:00hr - 16:30hr (UTC) [or 10:00hr - 12:30hr Eastern Time]

Course in Spanish: October 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, at 17:00hr - 19:30hr (UTC) [or 13:00hr - 15:30hr Eastern Time]

Target audience: This webinar series is intended for local, regional, federal, and non-governmental organizations from agriculture and food security related agencies to use radar and optical remote sensing applications in the domain of agriculture for crop type mapping.

Prerequisites: Participants with no experience in remote sensing or synthetic aperture radar are encouraged to view these webinars prior to the trainings.

Registration: Please click here to register for course in English. Please click here to register for the course in Spanish. Registration is open until the day of training or until the maximum capacity of the course has been reached. 

For more information about the course, please visit the NASA website and ESA website.

3. Remote Sensing Applications for Crop Mapping and Monitoring

Training provider: ISRO

Course description: This two-day short training programme will provide an overview of remote sensing and EO systems and its applications to agriculture, and focus on remote sensing for rice crop mapping and monitoring using SAR and optical data, global crop mapping concepts (for major crops such as rice, wheat, rapeseed/mustard etc.), techniques, tools and their relevance for various stakeholders. The training includes hands-on demonstrations on image interpretation, digital image processing, rice crop mapping and deriving inputs for yield modelling using optical and SAR data, on Google Earth engine.

Dates: October 5 and 7, 04:30hr to 11:00hr (UTC) [or 10:00hr to 16:30hr Indian Standard Time]

Prerequisites: Fundamental knowledge of remote sensing is desirable.

Language: English.

Registration: Please click here to register for the ISRO training. Registration is open until the day of training or until the maximum capacity of the course has been reached. 

For more information about the course, please visit the ISRO website.

Introduction Webinar

A joint webinar took place on 9 September 2021 from 12:00 to13:00 UTC (14:00 to 15:00 CEST) to inform interested participants about the content of the training opportunities. Registration for the introduction webinar has closed.

Please click on the links in the programme below to view the presentation slides.

Video recording of the webinar is available here.


9 September 2021 (Thursday)
12:00 to 13:00 UTC (14:00 to 15:00 CEST) 
Time Topic Speaker
 3 min  Opening remarks and role of UNOOSA in capacity-building  Mr. Luc St-Pierre
 Chief of Space Applications Section
 3 min  Welcome from ESA  Mr. Francesco Sarti
 Scientific Coordinator of the Education and Training Activities
 Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes
 European Space Agency
 3 min  Welcome from ISRO  Dr. Prakash Chauhan
 3 min  Welcome from NASA  Dr. Ana Prados
 University of Maryland Baltimore County
 10 min    Introduction to UN SPIDER MOOC training course  Mr. Shirish Ravan
 UN SPIDER Programme
 20 min

 Overview of ESA-NASA training
 Part 1 and 3 ; Part 2, 4 and 5

 Dr. Ana Prados
 Mr. Francesco Sarti
 Ms Georgia Karadimou, RUS Copernicus Service, Serco Italy
 10min   Overview of ISRO training  Dr. S.P. Aggarwal
 Programme Coordinator, CSSTEAP
 2 min  Closing remarks  UNOOSA 
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