19 November 2002
– the concluding event of a busy and successful chairmanship
The 16th CEOS Plenary Meeting takes place at ESA’s ESRIN establishment in Frascati, Italy, on 20 and 21 November. It will be chaired by the ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Professor José Achache, and attended by about a hundred high-level representatives of international space agencies and their major partners, such as the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme.
A major issue on the agenda, and the subject of a dedicated preparatory meeting on 19 November, will be the proposal for a follow-up programme in response to the outcomes of the WSSD (World Summit on Sustainable Development) held in Johannesburg in August/September. ESA attended the WSSD as a formal observer in its capacity as Chair of CEOS and participated in negotiation of the final documents adopted by Heads of State. These make a number of specific references to the use of space infrastructure in support of sustainable development, the need for information for improved decision-making and, specifically, the need for observations from space to provide unbiased, freely accessible information about the state of the Earth and its environment.
The proposed ESA WSSD follow-up programme, which will be discussed with UN agencies (WMO, UNESCO, FAO, UNEP), the EU and the World Bank, seeks to engage the international space community in coordinating its activities in joint action to promote the use of Earth observation in support of sustainable development. Two priority areas have been identified and will be the focus of discussion during the CEOS Plenary: the need for general education, training and capacity-building in the use of Earth observation data in developing countries; and the role of Earth observation data in improved water resource management. In addition to identifying specific programme resources in support of these initiatives, ESA will make data available from its Earth observation missions, such as Envisat.
ESA hands over the CEOS chairmanship to NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) of the United States for the year 2003, to be followed in 2004 by the representative of the People’s Republic of China.
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