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Earth Observation Handbook: Rio+20 Summit Special Edition


On the occasion of Rio+20 Summit the international Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) issued the newest edition of the “Earth Observation Handbook”. The Handbook presents the main capabilities of satellite Earth observations and their applications to assist sustainable development challenges and, in particular, information that has to delivered to support well-informed environmental policies and to implement international conventions that support them. 

The Rio Convention bodies: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are relying on contributions from satellite data for a regular review of the state of Earth’s changing environment. 

The role of Earth Observation in monitoring of essential climate change variables, biodiversity and land degradation was highlighted by a number of side events held by the European Space Agency, the Group on Earth Observations, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs. 

ESA highlighted its decade-long support to implementing of UNFCCC protocols and added value of satellite Earth Observation to national reporting duties. European Earth-observing satellites are also critical in providing systematic observations of global ecosystems status and trends, for example monitoring of the world's land degradation in the framework of CBD and UNCCD or monitoring of oceans and coastal water quality parameters for all coastal regions of the world, among many other things.

Rio+20 Summit gave the opportunity to stress the contribution of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and its Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to delivering of globally coordinated spatial data on land, sea, and atmosphere. GEO strives to ensure international coordination in the planning of Earth-observing satellite programs and to maximize the utilization of data in order to effectively address the requirements of consistent, reliable and continuous environmental monitoring. 

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) provided a set of recommendations regarding strengthening the use of space-derived geospatial data for the purpose of supporting sustainable development policies, and stressed the need of international collaboration in sharing societal and environmental information. UNOOSA and the World Meteorological Organization recently issued a report on “Space and Climate Change: use of space-based technologies in the United Nations system” . 

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