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N° 31–1999: A European initiative to deploy space resources in support of disaster management

22 July 1999

Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, forest fires or tropical storms and man-made disasters such as oil-spills continuously strike our planet, causing tremendous suffering to populations and heavy damage and loss to society. Data from Earth observation satellites such as ERS-1 and ERS-2 operated by ESA and SPOT 1, 2 and 4 operated by CNES (in the framework of cooperation with Belgium and Sweden) can provide authorities responsible for disaster management with reliable information to complement conventional ground-based and airborne systems.

Over the last few years, many initiatives have been undertaken by space agencies in conjunction with civil protection authorities to demonstrate the utility and potential of space techniques in improving management of natural and man-induced catastrophes. Today, in the context of the UNISPACE III conference in Vienna, the Director General of ESA, Antonio RodotB , and the Director General of CNES, Gérard Brachet, announced their plan to create a Space System Operators' Charter to promote efficient support to disaster management.

In the event of a disaster, Charter signatories will undertake to support organisations involved in disaster assistance and rescue by making available Earth observation assets, including satellites, instrumentation, ground facilities and archive image data resources. These will be provided on request from civil protection authorities in the signatories' countries. In particular, ESA and CNES specifically agree to jointly allocate their satellite resources to observation of geographical areas affected by disaster with a view to rapidly providing the authorities with the relevant data.
This Charter will be open to all space agencies and satellite operators around the world.

For further information on ESA and CNES browse the web:

Press officers:
ESA : Franco Bonacina - tel. 01 53 69 77 13
CNES : Sandra Laly - tel. 01 44 76 77 32
The same press release is being published by CNES.