Register for the UN-SPIDER Bonn International Conference

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The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) / UN-SPIDER and the Centre for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL), University of Bonn, are organising an international conference focusing on leveraging space-based technologies for disaster management.

The virtual event “Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management in Africa: Networks and Information Technologies in Times of Crisis” will be held from 16th to 18th November 2021. Furthermore, the working language of the Conference will be English, and simultaneous translation will not be provided. 

Furthermore, the Conference will address novel solutions developed by the space community, ways in which disaster management agencies are implementing space-based solutions and will allow UN-SPIDER to strengthen its network of African stakeholders for improved use of space technologies for disaster management.  However, to facilitate the use of space technologies, there is a need to strengthen virtual networks and partnerships to ensure that staff in civil protection agencies and other actors involved in disaster management initiatives at all levels can take advantage of such solutions effectively. In addition, networks and partnerships can facilitate access to space-based data and improve ways to harness the power of space-based information. Over the years, the UN-SPIDER programme of the Office for Outer Space  Affairs of the United Nations (UNOOSA) has been building a community of practice. Thus, in 2020, there was a recommendation for formalising that community of practice as a network or partnership.  

Background

Natural and man-made disasters continue to cause tremendous damage to societies around the world. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact countries worldwide, the effects of climate change on hydrometeorology and other hazards cannot be ignored. For example, the trend of very intense forest fires that took place in 2019 in Australia, Brazil and the United States continued this year in Greece, Turkey, and other countries; and regions of Germany saw the impacts of unprecedented floods and debris flows that triggered massive losses. In contrast, areas in  Southwestern Canada and the north-western segment of the United States experienced a very severe heatwave.  

On the positive side, the visualisation of the geographical evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in countries around the world using GIS and web-based dashboards, the broader reach of communication technologies, and the increasing availability of information technologies opened an opportunity for increased use of space-based solutions in these times of crises. Furthermore, regional and international collaborative efforts have led to the implementation of data and information platforms such as the Africa Regional Data Cube, Digital Earth Africa and Africa Risk Capacity, and the Copernicus  GLOFAS, GDO and GWIS services.

Objectives and expected outcomes 

The Conference aims to contribute to the increased use of space-based solutions in  African countries to respond to challenges posed by natural hazards in times of crisis, such as those triggered by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, the conference aims to: 

  • Showcase recent advances and identify challenges to using space-based information, big data approaches and information technologies in disaster management in Africa;
  • Present and provide a hands-on experience of space-based applications through tutorials on technical solutions ranging from standalone desktop packages to cloud computing environments that facilitate the access to and use of space-based data and information products for disaster management; and
  • Contribute to the efforts of UN-SPIDER to strengthen its network of stakeholders in Africa. 

The outcomes, results and key recommendations of this International Conference will be published as a technical report. In addition, they will be incorporated into the UN-SPIDER plan of work for the coming years. 

Conference Sessions 

The Conference will include technical presentations, discussions, and hands-on sessions on the use of new web-based and cloud-based tools. The first session of the conference will serve to set the context and highlight: 

  • Challenges introduced by climate change when confronting risks and disasters triggered by hydrometeorological hazards;
  • Examples of the use of novel space technology applications to confront natural hazards; and
  • Examples of novel information technologies in Africa. 

In addition, the second session of the conference will be dedicated to the compilation of experiences on the use of space-based solutions in countries and to provide hands-on examples of cloud-based solutions to generate actionable space-based information. 

The third session will be dedicated to the UN-SPIDER network of African stakeholders and the exchange of experiences on the role of networks to strengthen institutional capacities, individual skills and to carry out collective efforts in disaster management efforts in Africa. 

Participants 

The Conference is expected to bring together around 80 to 120 participants from national, regional, and international organisations, academia, and the private sector. The Office for Outer Space Affairs is committed to achieving a 50/50 gender balance in its programs and ensuring a balanced representation from different perspectives. As a result, women are encouraged to apply.  

Participants will include:

  • Decision-makers from government agencies (space agencies, remote sensing centres, civil  protection / civil defence agencies, ministries of environment, etc.); 
  • High-ranking officers from regional and international organisations involved;
  • Experts from the space and remote sensing community who focus their efforts on environmental monitoring, disaster risk management or emergency response activities, particularly in the context of climate-related extreme events;
  • UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER National Focal Points;
  • Experts from the UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER network of Regional Support Offices;
  • Experts from the UN-affiliated Regional Centres for Space Science and Technology Education and other national, regional, and international Centres of Excellence;
  • Researchers involved in the use of Earth observation in areas related to climate change,  environmental management, sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and  emergency response efforts; and
  • Representatives of the private sector (space and Earth observation, disaster management,  environment, etc.) 
How to apply

Applications to participate in this Conference can be submitted to the Organising Team. The completed application form should be submitted to the contact points below by email no later than 10 November 2021. 

Kindly click here to submit applications to participate in the Conference. In addition, all selected participants will receive a notification with logistical details. 

Contact points

1. Juan Carlos Villagran de Leon (Mr.) 

UN-SPIDER 

Office for Outer Space Affairs 

UN Campus Bonn 

E-mail: juan-carlos.villagran@un.org 

2. Mr Adrian Strauch 

Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces  (ZFL) 

Department of Geography 

University of Bonn 

Bonn, Germany 

E-mail: adrian.strauch@uni-bonn.de 

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