The role of satellites in a wide range of humanitarian and emergency actions including tropical cyclone monitoring, flood relief and prevention, post-crisis reconstruction, disease eradication and human rights protection was examined at a two-day seminar organized by the World Meteorological Organization and UNOSAT, the Operational Satellite Applications Programme of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.
The Symposium “Leveraging satellite applications for global challenges” featured speakers from the United Nations System, non-governmental organizations, Member States and the commercial sector to discuss the latest advancements of satellite technology and the practical innovative solutions being used today for humanitarian purposes.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud recalled that in 1960 the first meteorological satellite TIROS-1 (Television InfraRed Observation Satellite) began providing unprecedented pictures of cloud distributions and the potential for an advanced observing system was recognized immediately.
Over the half-century since TIROS-1, satellite information has evolved from qualitative “pictures” to high-resolution quantitative digital data on the atmosphere and its land-sea interface. Furthermore, environmental satellites are being used today for a wide variety of applications, spanning scales ranging from nowcasting to climate prediction, and it would indeed be difficult to mention an area in operational meteorology that might function equally well without any satellite information,” Jarraud said in a closing speech 12 October.
He said the World Meteorological Congress has launched the decisive phase for the establishment of a Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), in particular to sustain decision-making by providing climate information to all socioeconomic sectors. “GFCS will be a common undertaking of the UN System As One and I am indeed confident that UNITAR, through UNOSAT, will make significant contributions to this new challenge,” he said.
Francesco Pisano, Manager of UNOSAT, underlined the importance of deriving concrete and usable solutions using the rapidly evolving technologies offered by the satellite industry and space agencies. Barbara Ryan, Director of WMO’s Space Programme underlined the importance of maintaining the dialogue between users and providers so that gaps can be bridged and practical solutions can be devised.