21 April 2006

United Nations Holds Regional Workshop on Space Technology for Disaster Management in Western Asia and Northern Africa   

VIENNA, 21 April (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, will hold a five-day Regional Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Disaster Management in Western Asia and Northern Africa, in Damascus, Syria, from 22 to 26 April. The Regional Workshop is being co-sponsored by the Government of Syria and the European Space Agency (ESA), and is being hosted by the General Organization for Remote Sensing.

Space technologies such as Earth observation satellites, meteorological satellites, global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and communication satellites have a proven success record in supporting not only the emergency response phase of disasters but also the pre-disaster phase, and are being integrated into modern disaster management programmes.

Between 2000 and 2004, OOSA organized a series of regional workshops on the use of space technology for disaster management, concluding in a final international workshop, held in Munich, Germany, in October 2004. A total of 170 participants from 51 countries developed "The Munich Vision: A Global Strategy for Improved Risk Reduction and Disaster Management Using Space Technologies", to help developing countries have access to and be able to use space technology for disaster management.

The overall objective of the Regional Workshop is to increase the awareness of policy makers, planners and managers in the area of disaster management and civil protection in Western Asia and Northern Africa of the potential benefits and cost effectiveness of using space technology for preventing and managing disasters and also to build upon the recommendations put forward in "The Munich Vision".

The specific objectives include: (a) learning about the current and potential uses of space technology for disaster management in the region; (b) identification of national and regional activities to be carried out jointly by space technology and civil protection institutions; (c) identification of existing and planned initiatives of which national and regional institutions should be aware; and (d) strengthening of existing networks.

The workshop programme will include presentations that detail the current use of space technologies for disaster management, in areas such as seismic hazards and landslides, floods, dust and sand storms, desertification, wild fires, satellite communications, and technological disasters (including detection and monitoring of oil spills and industrial fires).

Presentations will also be made on on-going and planned initiatives such as the International Charter "Space and Major Disasters", the Global Earth Observation System of Systems and the Disaster Monitoring Constellation.

More than 80 participants from the following countries and international organizations are expected to attend the Regional Workshop: Algeria, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Yemen, United Nations Office for Project Services and OOSA. 


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