6 March 2006

United Nations Holds Expert Meeting on Remote Sensing Projects for the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region

VIENNA, 6 March (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, is holding a five-day Expert Meeting on Remote Sensing Projects for the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region, in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 6 to 10 March. The Expert Meeting is being co-sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), which is also hosting the event.

The primary objective of the Expert Meeting is to implement a new module for ESA's Eduspace programme, entitled "Himalayas from Space". This module will contain appropriate case studies, further evaluated and interactively improved at the Expert Meeting. Participants will further work on their respective project proposals, in cooperation with the instructors, and will continue to improve the design of their respective case studies. Eduspace is an educational website of ESA, mainly for secondary schools and lower university levels, developed to promote Earth observation from Earth-orbiting satellites and the application of the data in various fields and disciplines. The website includes teaching and learning material, exercises and case studies. It also contains a selection of satellite images and software that has been developed for educational image manipulation and analysis. The themes covered are thematic (e.g. global change, disaster monitoring) and geographic (such as Europe from Space and Africa from Space).

The Expert Meeting will also review some satellite-based remote sensing projects relevant to the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region.

The Expert Meeting is a follow-up to the United Nations/ESA/ICIMOD/Austria/Switzerland Workshop on Remote Sensing in the Service of Sustainable Development in Mountain Areas, which was hosted by ICIMOD on behalf of the Government of Nepal in Kathmandu, in November 2004.

The workshop participants concluded that space-borne applications were an indispensable tool for the long-term monitoring of environmental change, risk assessment and prevention, early warning, event mapping, search and rescue, and recovery operations, but that the space techniques needed to be better combined with spatial models and in situ measurements. Therefore, multi-sensor observations with improved spatio-temporal information were needed. It was also determined that there was a need to further develop integrated information systems that combined user services with Earth observation, positioning and communication data.

The results of the workshop were presented in the keynote address at the international conference   "Benefits from Space for Sectoral Policies for High Mountain Security", held in Geneva on 8 and 9 September 2005.

The fragile mountain environment has become increasingly vulnerable due to global warming and intensified human activities. Mountains cover about 25 per cent of the world's land surface. About 12 per cent of the world's people live in mountainous areas, while over 50 per cent are directly or indirectly dependent on mountain resources, such as fresh surface water, up to 80 per cent of which comes from mountains.

Twenty-four participants from Austria, Bhutan, Denmark, India, Nepal, Switzerland, ICIMOD and OOSA will attend the Expert Meeting to upgrade their case studies through training in satellite-based radar technology and to jointly discuss those case studies after a follow-up presentation of 11 case studies selected by ESA for being posted on the Eduspace website.


The United Nations Programme on Space Applications is implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Under the Programme, the Office conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on applications and capacity building in subjects such as remote sensing, communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, satellite navigation and space law.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at http://www.unoosa.org/ .

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For information contact:

Qais Sultan
Associate Programme Officer
Telephone: +43 1 26060-4962
E-mail: qais.sultan@unvienna.org