Space observation and Satellite imagery in the context of climate change, capcity building and technology transfer

The EU organised a workshop around the benefits of integrating space observations in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, capacity building and training in that sector for developing economies and LDCs.

The workshop was a collaboration between European Space Agency (ESA), the recently launched South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the Joint research centre (JRC) together with their Gabonese partner.

Not being an expert in space technology and satellite imagery myself, the main points highlighted were with regards to the technology developed i.e. the type of satellites being developed would help monitor a multitude of parameters (forest areas, size of water streams, fires, etc); and also the fact there is an open policy for the data generated for the countries and it is available to anyone upon request. The coverage area of the ESA satellites are mainly in countries in Europe and North Africa however; while SANSA covers the SADC region reasonably well with its own satellites.

Hence, the ‘Agence Gabonaise d’Etudes et d’Observations Spatiales’ (AGEOS) highlighted that the country identified a gap for satellite imagery for central Africa, particularly since this region contains the 2nd largest rain forest in the world, and its importance for carbon sequestration. AGEOS together with its European partner have developed a project to set up a technology center that will provide imagery for its 22 surrounding countries in central Africa, construction is due to start early next year. This center will be used for technology transfer and training interested parties in data reporting and interpretation; Gabon emphasized the fact that their intention is to help build capacity in the region and will make the data readily available for the respective countries, which would be very useful for their respective REDD+ programme. The center will costs ~2 bn Euros in total and has been mainly funded by the Gabonese government.

This is for me a perfect example of capacity building in the African context and I can only hope that the Gabonese government involves different the 22 countries at different levels (national, civil society e.g. research institutions,etc) such that the data generated is well used and Gabon’s experience with setting up such a facility serves as a learning curve for others.

Check out these websites if you want to know more about the work done by ESA and JRC: www.esa.inti , http://eopi/esa.intl