On Friday afternoon, JosÈ Achache, ESA Director of Earth Observation, addressed the World Summit on Sustainable Development on behalf of CEOS, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites.

There were two main points that Mr Achache stressed in his statement. Firstly that CEOS pledges that Earth observation data will be made accessible to all, and secondly, referring to the crucial role that Earth observation satellites play, that “there can be no sustainable development without adequate information about the state of the Earth and its environment”.

With reference to the first point, Mr Achache went on to describe how CEOS is encouraging the use of satellite data for sustainable development in developing countries by providing training programmes and instructors, including whenever possible, technology transfer.

At the end of his statement Mr Achache, on behalf of all CEOS members, invited delegates to the World Summit to reaffirm the need for long-term, timely and quality global information as a basis for sound decision making, and to recognise the need to integrate satellite measurements with ground information, in order to improve understanding of the Earth and contribute to protecting its environment for future generations.

Full text of the statement

CEOS address at Johannesburg 29 August 2002

Stephen Briggs, head of ESA’s Earth Observation Applications Department, addressed the Plenary Session on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development at the WSSD Summit on Tuesday, in his capacity as co-chairman of CEOS, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites.

“CEOS is representing all civil space agencies with major Earth observation capabilities representing 33 countries and major user organisations (i.e. WMO, UNEP, FAO, etc.). CEOS members include agencies from developed countries (e.g. Europe, USA, Japan, etc.) and developing countries or countries in transition (Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand, etc.).

The European Space Agency (ESA), which chairs CEOS during 2002, would like to emphasise the following points on behalf of CEOS.

  • Observation from space is an indispensable information source for sustainable development objectives, such as the new partnership for Africa’s development, agriculture, disaster management, climate change, environmental monitoring etc. This is well recognised in the current Plan for Implementation.
  • To support this action the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) partnership, co-chaired by CEOS, has submitted a Type 2 Partnership on the use of space and ground measurements for sustainable development.
  • Space is not a tool only for developed countries; on the contrary, space technology serves many needs of developing countries, where access to information is often difficult or costly. This was highlighted in the conclusions of a Symposium held in Stellenbosch last week (UN/ESA/South Africa Symposium: Space Technology Provides Solutions for Sustainable Development) attended by 100 participants and co-chaired by the South African Ministers Buthulezi and Ngubane who recommended to put these conclusions forward to the WSSD Plenary Session.
  • Triggered by the WSSD, in particular in support of the need for capacity building, the CEOS members have submitted a Type 2 partnership on education and training.
  • Access to space data is a key issue to support development; data sharing between countries with space agencies and other countries will be one key objective of WSSD follow-up activities of CEOS.
  • CEOS, which coordinates the space agencies, has already planned a high level WSSD follow-up meeting in November 2002 where the outcome of the WSSD will be further discussed and actions concretised.”

This statement was fully endorsed in the interventions that followed, made by the delegations of the United States and Japan.