5th Group on Earth Observation Blue Planet Symposium

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The 5TH Group on Earth Observation Blue Planet Symposium is currently underway in Accra, Ghana. The symposium, holding from 24 – 28 October 2022, is themed “Local Action in Support of Global Traction” and will be focused on the global marine and coastal community. 

The ocean and coastal arm of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), GEO Blue Planet aims to ensure the sustained development, and use of ocean and coastal observations for the benefit of society. The flagship event is being held for the first time on the African continent with the aim of improving GEO Blue Planet’s engagement with African nations in an effort to expand the Earth observation community of practice, strengthen local capacity, and provide them with access to resources, tools, and services.

Co-organised by the GEO Blue Planet Secretariat (Mercator Ocean International, NOAA and the University of Maryland) and the AIR Centre, this year’s hosts and local organisers are the University of Ghana and the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Ghana. 

Dr Emily Smail, Executive Director of GEO Blue Planet Secretariat, said the initiative worked to ensure the sustained development and use of ocean and coastal observations for the benefit of society. With the first symposium held in 2015, she said this year’s symposium was expected to increase regional linkages, promote collaboration between stakeholders and the observing community, and gather feedback on the focus of symposium activities.

“We are excited to be here in Ghana for the symposium. We look forward to making connections with the ocean and coastal researchers of Africa, and local and regional change-makers. We are hoping the symposium will spark innovative projects to help with the sustainable development of the blue economy across Africa, and improve the conservation of Africa’s resources.” she said.

Mr Kwamena E. Quainton, Chief Director, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, Science and Innovation, encouraged participants to take advantage of the event to explore innovative ways to enhance the power of technology. He announced that Cabinet had approved the National Space Policy with the aim of managing the environment in an efficient and efficient manner.

The symposium will feature plenary sessions centred around the GEO Blue Planet core action areas of stakeholder engagement, cooperation and co-design and capacity development. The plenary sessions on fisheries, ecosystem conservation, and coastal hazards offer a diverse and rich panel of speakers that will unpack the needs of coastal communities across Africa, highlight existing tools and opportunities for them to address their challenges, and provide inspiring examples that can shine a light on the way forward.

It will also feature ocean and coastal observations tutorials, thematic workshops and a highly interactive symposium forum. The training sessions will equip the next generation of researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs, to connect their coastal communities and economies with global opportunities in ocean data to safeguard the seas and oceans and create value addition for the fishing and other coastal industries.

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