'Space and Major Disasters' - Charter members strengthen ties with UN

15 June 2004

Colloquium at UNESCO/Paris
ESA PR 31-2004. On 18 June, during a colloquium at UNESCO, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), represented by its Director, Mr Sergio Camacho, will announce that the United Nations intends to remain a 'cooperating body' supporting the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters.

OOSA intends to enhance promotion of the Charter and to act as gateway for United Nations agencies responding to natural disasters and emergencies. The colloquium is being jointly organised by the French space agency (CNES) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), with ESA participation, in the framework of the Canada-France 2004 celebrations.

ESA, CNES and the CSA became the founding parties to the Charter during the UNISPACE III conference held in July 1999. After five years in operation, the Charter has been activated more than 50 times in all parts of the world, supporting the management of disasters caused by floods, oil spills, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and fires.

Portugal's Algarve, during August 2003's fires

To date, the founding parties have been joined as parties to the Charter by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Argentinian Space Agency (CONAE). The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has applied to become a party.

The Charter is based on voluntary contributions, by all parties, of Earth observation satellite data. Its main purpose is to supply states or communities whose populations are exposed to risk or have been affected by a natural or technological disaster with data providing a basis for anticipating and managing potential or actual crises. It relies on limited space capabilities offered by the parties but “this is a focused, concrete demonstration of what a more ambitious programme of global environment and security monitoring can deliver to disaster mitigation and crisis management authorities”, said José Achache, ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes.

Media representatives wishing to attend the colloquium at UNESCO in Paris are kindly requested to complete the attached reply form and fax it back to the ESA Media Relations Division at ESA Headquarters in Paris (fax. + 33(0)1.53.69.7690).

For further information:

Stephen Briggs
Head of Science and Applications Department
ESA/ESRIN Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes
Tel. + 39.06.941.800

Josef Aschbacher
Programme Coordinator
ESA Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes
Tel. + 33(0)1.53.69.7707

Jérôme Béquignon
Programme Coordinator
Secretary of the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters
ESA Directorate of Earth Observation Programmes
Tel. +33(0)1.56.04.7291

Jean-Charles Bigot
International Relations
ESA Directorate of External Relations
Tel. +33 1 5369 7738

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