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    22 March 2011

    Climate Change as Defining Challenge of our Time Addressed at the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities

    VIENNA/GENEVA, 21 March (UN Information Service) - Climate change as the defining challenge of our time was the main topic of the 31st session of the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities (IAM) from 16 to 18 March in Geneva. Organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the 2011 IAM was hosted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    Building upon coordination and synergies in space-related activities within the United Nations system with the aim to deliver as one, a special report on the use of space technology within the United Nations system was adopted. The report discussed how space-technologies, in particular satellites, function as means of gathering observations of climate change from a global perspective and contribute to the monitoring of carbon emissions, the changing of ice in polar caps and glaciers as well as temperature changes. The report has been prepared under the leadership of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in cooperation with UNOOSA.

    A joint session of IAM and the United Nations Geographical Information Working Group (UNGIWG) was organized on 16 March to prepare input to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, reflecting views of a wider group of United Nations entities on the increasing role that use of geospatial data for sustainable development in areas such as agriculture, deforestation assessment, disaster monitoring, draught relief and land management.

    During the meeting, Member States and UN agencies also met in the Open Informal Session on 18 March to discuss "Space and climate change" with a view to engaging Member States in a direct dialogue with the UN on important space-related developments in the United Nations system. Topics included climate change and forced migration (UNHCR); developments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of relevance to global climate observations - including from space; monitoring climate from space (WMO); the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) scientific services related to Earth observation; activities by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in response to climate change and development of Spatial Data Infrastructure in Africa (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa UNECA).

    For more information on the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities and its Open Informal Session see UN coordination of outer space activities website at

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    For further information contact:

    Romana Kofler
    Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4962