UN-SPIDER's network of Regional Support Offices (RSOs) met in Vienna on 5 and 6 February 2015 for the 6th annual meeting of the network. Twelve of the sixteen members of the network participated in the meeting, among them the RSOs of Romania, Colombia, Hungary, Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Kenya (RCMRD), Japan (ADRC), Indonesia, Jamaica (UWI), and Algeria.
The aim of the meeting was to review actions of 2014 and develop a joint programme of activities for 2015 and beyond, taking into considerations the funding context of UN-SPIDER and the high level plan of activities available. The participants also considered collaboration with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the Universal Access initiative of the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters, and with regards to the further development of the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal, as well as opportunities for closer and stronger collaboration, joint fund-raising and project development. Specific attention was given to the workplan of UN-SPIDER for 2015 to identify possible support to planned Technical Advisory Missions (TAMs), training efforts and the elaboration of booklets and Recommended Practices.
A special session was held on the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters to discuss how the RSOs could potentially support the mechanism. A representative of the International Charter stated in his presentation the hope that the RSOs would have an increasing role in the activation of the International Charter as well as in strengthening its outreach.
UNOOSA's director, Simonetta Di Pippo, stressed the importance of the network of RSOs overall: "The benefits that the Office and the UN-SPIDER Programme gain through bilateral collaborations with various RSOs are becoming more and more substantial." She highlighted the increasing demand of Member States for UN-SPIDER's support and stated: "We thus depend more and more on partnerships to implement these activities, which means, again, the RSO network can and must be even more active."
The meeting was also the occasion for Simonetta Di Pippo and Dr Giriraj Amarnath of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Sri Lanka to sign a memorandum of understanding on 5 February making IWMI the network's 17th member.
Additionally to representatives of the members of the RSO network and of UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER, observers from International Charter: Space and Major Disasters, GEO, the German Aerospace Centre DLR, Airbus, CEU, the French Space Agency CNES and the US Space Agency NASA participated in the meeting.