United Nations Workshop on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Risk Reduction


United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Ministry of Emergency Management of People's Republic of China

Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation (APSCO)

Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Thailand

Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)

Wed, Dec 7 - Fri, Dec 9 2022
United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC)

Venue: United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC), United Nations Building, Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, Bangkok 10200 Thailand

1. Theme

Can we monitor earthquake anomalies to understand the possibilities of seismic hazards? Can we assess the rate at which cities are sinking and may face unprecedented floods as Bangkok faced in 2011? Can we assess the health of ecosystems so that it holds promise to offer protection from future pandemics or serve as the nature-based solution for disaster risk reduction?

Such risks are inherently unperceivable and remain unnoticed until they manifest into hazards unless we use the tools based on science and technologies to assess them.

The “Space2030” Agenda: space as a driver of sustainable development and its implementation plan, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 76/3, contains, inter alia, the commitment of Member States to:

  1. strengthen the use of integrated space applications to facilitate the observation of the climate and the assessment of disaster risks, improve early warning disaster systems and provide data for the indicators used to track progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework and commitments by States parties to the Paris Agreement, and
  2. promote the use of space-based technologies in all phases of the disaster management cycle, applicable to both natural and man-made disasters, including prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation; monitor and assess elements such as exposure, hazards, disaster risk and damage in different regions of the world; and promote the sharing of disaster monitoring data.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2022 took place in Bali, Indonesia.  The theme of the Global Platform, “From Risk to Resilience: Towards Sustainable Development for All in a COVID-19 Transformed World”, offered lessons from the pandemic and pathways to address the climate emergency. The event convened at the mid-point between COP 26 and COP 27 observed an increase in frequency and intensity of catastrophic events, threatening the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and iterated an urgent need to scale-up disaster risk reduction as part of the solution to address the climate emergency. A new paradigm is to transcend from managing risk to building risk resilience for which we need to understand risks that are not perceived by communities well in time and ensure that our development work doesn’t generate new risks.

For building risk resilience, we should utilize the full potential of science and technology to assess risks that are unseen and prevent potential catastrophes. This would help countries to understand risks well in advance, build multi-hazard early warning systems, develop resilient infrastructure and plan effective mitigation measures. Space-based technologies provide insight into what’s unseen and can be seen through space-based tools.

On 10 October 2018, Ministers and the heads of the space community from over 30 countries in Asia-Pacific met in Bangkok for the Third Ministerial Conference on Space Applications for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific and adopted the Asia-Pacific Plan of Action on Space Applications for Sustainable Development (2018 – 2030). Among the 188 actions in the Plan of Action, disaster risk management is the priority for Asia-Pacific countries towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. The Ministerial Declaration pledged to implement the Plan of Action and contribute to “Space2030” agenda formulated by the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. The workshop on “Space-based Technologies for Disaster Risk Reduction - Assessing the Unseen Risks” will explore the power of Earth observation and other space technologies in understanding such risks and ways to deal with them.

2. Background

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is pleased to announce this workshop through its United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) in collaboration with the United Nations Social and Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Asian Institute of Technology, Ministry of Emergency Management of People’s Republic of China and Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation.

The UN-SPIDER workshops offer a forum for disaster management communities and geospatial experts to strengthen their capabilities in using space-based information to identify, assess, monitor and respond to disaster risks and integrate space technology into long-term disaster risk management efforts. Through these workshops, the UN-SPIDER programme of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs connects the disaster management community with providers of geospatial information and develops programmes to help developing countries to use space-based information in all stages of disaster management.

The workshop will feature a joint UN-Space – High-level panel on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Risk Reduction, being organized in cooperation with UN-Space, a formal inter-agency mechanism established in mid-1970s to enhance coordination of space-related activities within the United Nations system. UN-Space, also known as the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities, aims at promoting synergies and preventing duplication of efforts related to the use of space technology and applications in the work of United Nations entities.

The workshop is also an opportunity to contribute to the outcomes of the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Space Applications for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, which will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia on 26 October 2022, which will convene to sustain and reinforce regional cooperation to enable countries to harness the power of space-derived data and services for the better management of disaster risk and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Workshop Objectives

  1. Getting a better understanding of imperceptible and unknown risks with the help of space and allied technologies;
  2. Evaluating new risks posed by climate change and assessing them with the use of space-based technologies;
  3. Demonstrate opportunities and recent advances in space-based technologies to contribute to multi-hazard early warning; and
  4. To generate awareness amongst the disaster management community to use space-based tools for implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

4. Expected outcomes

The workshop is expected to achieve the following:

  1. Guidance on incorporating the use of space-based information in building disaster resilience that would contribute to achieving targets of the Sendai Framework;
  2. Engage the disaster management community in utilizing the potential of space-based technologies in building disaster resilience; and
  3. Enhanced contribution of space technology solutions in delivering progress on all 17 SDGs.

5. Sessions

Session 1: Understanding and assessing unseen risks

The session will present multi-hazard risk assessments such as assessing potential seismic risks, land subsidence or the risks emerging from climate change such as floods, landslides, drought, desertification, and forest fires etc. The session will demonstrate the value of space-based, geospatial and allied technologies.

Session 2: Multi-hazard early warning

UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER is one of the implementing partners of the International Network for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (IN-MHEWS). While Earth observation provides hazard and risk information, location-based services that utilize satellite navigation technologies and communication technologies provide an effective solution to improve early warning systems. The session will discuss existing early warning systems and ways to improve them using space-based technologies.

Session 3: Assessing threats to ecosystems and nature-based solutions for building disaster resilience

This session will discuss the resilience of ecosystems as an instrument for disaster risk reduction. Ecosystems protect infrastructure and communities from disasters. Ecosystems such as wetlands, forests, and coastal systems can provide cost-effective natural buffers against natural events and the impacts of climate change.  However, ecosystems face several threats such as forest fire, loss of biodiversity, coastal erosion, coral bleaching and reef degradation. This session will present use cases and methods of utilizing space-based inputs for assessing such risks and condition of ecosystems, as well as utilize its potential as the nature-based solutions for building disaster resilience.

Session 4: Advances in Earth observation and allied technologies to cater needs of the end-users

The current pace of space technology development challenges the space and geospatial end-users in making sense of ever-growing availability and access to earth observation data. Much of the geospatial information is derived from Earth observation data. The technology providers are not merely providing earth observation data but also providing services, products and tools to the end-users to ensure advanced Earth observation data is fully utilized. The session will present state-of-the-art Earth observation tools to cater needs of disaster management and sustainable development.

Session 5: Effective emergency response

This session will focus on how the countries can utilize the mechanisms that provide Earth observation support during disasters and the preparation needed by the national disaster management stakeholders to perform rapid response mapping. The opportunities offered by international organisations and private providers of satellite data will be presented.

Special session: Joint UN-Space - High Level Panel on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Risk Reduction

The UN-Space special session will offer a platform for thought leadership through the joint High-Level Panel, bringing together leading United Nations entities, governments and other stakeholders to engage in dialogues, exchange ideas, and seek solutions and strategies to advance the strategic role of space science, technology and applications for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the “Space2030” Agenda: space as a driver of sustainable development and its implementation plan; the Asia-Pacific Plan of Action on Space Applications for Sustainable Development (2018–2030), and attainment of the sustainable development goals.

Panellists will provide information on current and potential activities undertaken by their respective organizations relating to the use of space technology, science and applications and/or relevant regulatory frameworks for disaster risk reduction and dealing with unseen risks. The Panel will also serve as a platform for sharing best practices and for showcasing space-related activities of participating UN entities.

6. Target Audience

Disaster managers, policymakers, technologists and providers of space technology solutions from governments, academia, research, non-government and the private sector.

7. Registration link and deadline

Please register online through the following link since the online registration is mandatory: https://forms.office.com/r/UB4FWc7cLu

Deadline for registration: 16 October 2022

There is no registration fee for the workshop. Online registration is mandatory for all participants. The participants selected for the workshop will receive confirmation from the organisers. Getting a visa, travel and medical insurance is the responsibility of participants.

8. Financial Support to the participants

Due to funding constraints, the organisers will be able to offer support to only a limited number of participants from the Member States and organisations engaged in developing or intend to develop a partnership with UN-SPIDER. The support will defray the cost of travel (round-trip ticket – most economic fare – between the airport of international departure in their country of residence and Beijing) and/or room and board expenses during the duration of the event.

9. Point of Contact

Ms Qu Yumiao (yumiao.qu [at] un.org)

Logistics: Ms. GAO Yuan (yuan.gao [at] un.org)

Dr. Shirish RAVAN (shirish.ravan [at] un.org)

10. Training programme (10 to 15 December 2022)

After the workshop, a training programme on “Space-based technologies for disaster risk assessment”, co-organised with the Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation will be offered to 25-30 workshop participants on the campus of the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand. Participants interested in this training programme drop a separate Email to Ms Qu Yumiao (yumiao.qu [at] un.org).