ESA in Johannesburg

Street and space view of the Sandton Convention Centre - South A
Street and space view of the Sandton Convention Centre - South Africa
23 August 2002

The World Summit on Sustainable Development starts on Monday in Johannesburg and looks like being the biggest conference of the year, if not the decade. According to Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General, Nitin Desai, over 20,000 people are registered to attend, far surpassing expectations.

Delegates include more than 100 presidents and prime ministers, 50 heads of major global corporations and 15,000 representatives of non-governmental agencies. The South African Government estimates that altogether 60,000 people will take part in the Summit and the 150 related events that will be happening in parallel.

One of the most important of these is the Ubuntu Village and Exhibition, which opened on 17 August. This is the cultural hub for all those attending the Summit and associated events, and is home to Tensile 1 - an enormous moveable 11,000 square metre structure listed in the Guiness Book of Records.

South Africa - MERIS - 6 July 2002

ESA has a 72 m2 stand at Tensile 1, complete with displays and videos illustrating the ways in which Earth observation data can support sustainable development. ERS-1 and -2, Meteosat, more recently Envisat, and within the very near future MSG-1, have been designed to supply scientists with the data they need to keep a check on the state of our planet.

José Achache, ESA Director of Earth Observation, is scheduled to present a statement to the Summit on behalf of CEOS, the Committee of Earth Observation Satellites. ESA staff will also attend a number of events in and around the Summit to discuss the role of Earth observation data in supporting sustainable development in areas such as water management, and disaster warning and mitigation.

On 27 August, delegates and visitors to the Summit will be invited to watch a transmission of the MSG launch on screens distributed around all the main WSSD venues. MSG-1, the new sophisticated weather satellite developed by ESA in partnership with EUMETSAT, will be placed in orbit by an Ariane-5 launcher from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.

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