Information
  • Lead-organizer: European Space Agency
  • 13:30 - 15:00
  • Date: 18 Jun 2012
  • Room: T-5

Space Observations in support to the Rio Conventions

Organizing partners

The European Space Agency
The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
The secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
The secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Introduction

Implementing the MAEs Conventions requires the collection, analysis and understanding of a huge amount of environmental information. This information is essential for a better understanding of the scientific background around the environmental issues, but also to serve decision-making and to enable sustainable development plans to be put in place. Earth Observation satellites provide ways to improve the implementation of the MEAs, such as continuous observations of essential environmental variables, the building of long-term archives of historical satellite data, and the provision of synoptic and comparable environmental information without infringing on national sovereignties.

The Side Event will be organised along some keynote speeches and round table discussions on how Space Observations improve the assessment and the monitoring of essential ?climate change?, ?biodiversity? and ? land degradation? variables. Such an event would allow to increase awareness and share views on the importance of satellite observations for the implementation of the Rio Conventions.

Detailed programme

The dramatic environmental problems affecting our planet have mobilised the international community, involving governments, scientists, environmental organisations as well as the private sector, to develop and implement appropriate measures. As a result, several Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) have been signed with the objective to reduce environmental degradation and promote sustainable development. The main event that has led to an international coordinated response has been the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992, which resulted in the adoption of the three Rio Conventions, namely the UNFCC, the UNCCD and the CBD. The road started in 1992, continued with the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002 where many governments reinforced their commitment to sustainable development and recognised the MEAs as essential for achieving this objective.

Implementing the MEA Conventions requires the collection, analysis and understanding of a huge amount of environmental information, from local to global scales. This information is essential for a better understanding of the scientific background around environmental issues, but also to help decision-making and enable sustainable development plans to be put in place.
Observations of the Earth from Space offer many ways to improve the implementation of the MEAs, such as the continuous and systematic observations of essential environmental variables, the building of long-term archives of historical satellite data, and the provision of synoptic and comparable environmental information without infringing on national sovereignties. Earth Observation (EO) satellites allow an efficient, reliable and affordable monitoring of the Earth over time at all scales, from global to local scales. The recent advances in EO satellites and in geospatial information science makes EO technology a fundamental asset for an efficient and sustainable territorial management at all scales and for a wide range of environmental applications. The large volume of data acquired from over 30 years of satellite observations gives scientists a unique and detailed view of the changing physical characteristics of the Earth surface, sampled at a rate impossible to obtain with only in-situ observations.

The importance of systematic global observations for understanding climate change has been widely recognised by the UNFCCC community. Climate change is a global issue that must be addressed with global models. Earth observation satellites are essential to provide global datasets continuously and coherently. They are a unique means to measure systematically, globally and homogeneously most of the variables that are essential for understanding and monitoring the climate system. They also provide data at national and local scales, which can help the implementation of UNFCC conventions and protocols, and help the Contracting Parties in their reporting duties.

The CBD is an international legally binding treaty that aims at developing national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The adoption of global indicators on the status and trends of biodiversity are essential to collect information that is relevant for policy and management decisions and that is pertinent enough to assess the compliance of national and regional environmental policies and management schemes. Satellite-based Earth Observing systems are seen as promising instruments for the systematic observations of essential biodiversity variables such as ecosystems status and trends.

The UNCCD is the centerpiece in the international community?s efforts to combat desertification and land degradation in drylands. Achieving such an ambitious objective such as to reverse and prevent the mismanagement of the world?s drylands, implies the development of new ?holistic? and participatory approach aiming for sustainable development of drylands. The recently adopted 10-year strategic plan of the UNCCD has defined some strategic and operational objectives, along with a provisional set of Impact Indicators to assess the effectiveness of the UNCCD implementation. In this context, the UNCCD is currently developing a monitoring and assessment process of the world?s drylands, where satellite observations will play a key role.

Wider awareness within the sustainable development community together with the recent technological developments in the space sector, hold great promises for the implementation of the MEAs. In spite of all these promising signs, EO support to the MEAs is still, in many cases, restricted to research and demonstration projects. A better use of Space Observations is becoming critical to better apprehend environmental processes and manmade effects on ecosystems, and to ultimately contribute to improving sustainable development policies.

Speakers:
Stephen Briggs,
Head of the Earth Observation Programme Planning and Coordination Service.
European Space Agency
ESA supporting the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (CBD, UNCCD,UNFCCC and Ramsar), 10 years of partnerships

Marcela Main Sancha
Senior Liaison Officer, Executive and Direction Management Programme,
UNFCCC secretariat
The importance of systematic Earth observations for climate for the UNFCCC

Sergio Zelaya,
Coordinator of the unit "Policy Advocacy and Global Issues” ,
UNCCD secretariat
Monitoring and Assessment in the context of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification

Tim Christophersen
Programme Officer for forest biodiversity,
CBD secretariat
The importance of satellite observations for the Convention on Biological Diversity

Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New