CAS-TWAS Special Session on Earth Observations for Disaster Risk Reduction in Developing Countries (Monday, 9 June 2014, 13:30 – 15:15)

CAS-TWAS Disaster Framework for Building DRR in Developing Countries
Fang CHEN (China)

Earth Observations for the Mitigation of Natural Disasters: the Role of the Group on Earth Observations
Francesco GAETANI (Italy)

Space Technology Contribution in Disaster Risk Reduction: UN-SPIDER Efforts
Longfei LIU (China)

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR): Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction in Development

UNESCO’s Work on the Use of Remote Sensing Tools in DRR for Developing States
Hans THULSTRUP (China)


CAS-TWAS Disaster Framework for Building DRR in Developing Countries

Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Over the past decade, countries across the world – both rich and poor – have witnessed thousands of natural disasters. While developed countries have generally the technological resources needed to respond and recover from major disasters, the effect natural disasters can have on the environment and society of less developed countries can be devastating and long-lasting. High population density in risk-prone areas, poor infrastructure and unstable landforms make developing countries especially vulnerable to natural disasters.

Earth observation and technology tied to Digital Earth – a global effort to create a virtual representation of the entire planet – can reduce costs and efforts needed to monitor and mitigate natural disasters and their effects. Numerous developing countries require support to develop disaster mitigation capacity that will allow them to fully benefit from opportunities offered by these advanced technologies.

The CAS-TWAS Centre of Excellence on Space Technology for Disaster Mitigation (SDIM) was formally established in 2013. The goal of the Centre is to provide joint research, education, training, workshop and advisory services opportunities in developing countries, and eventually to enhance scientific and research capacities for disaster mitigation in developing countries through the use of the most advanced space technologies.

In the presentation the ongoing and future activities of SDIM for disaster mitigation in developing countries will be presented and discussed, focusing on the technology demands and challenges in disaster management and mitigation, and opportunities for multilateral activities.

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Earth Observations for the Mitigation of Natural Disasters: the Role of the Group on Earth Observations

Francesco GAETANI
Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat Expert for the Disasters Societal Benefit Area

Earth observations and information, derived both from space and surface networks, have demonstrated not only their maturity, but a critical role in supporting first responders and risk managers by providing effective tools to rapidly map damages and impacts during rescue operations.

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) through its 150 partners comprised of 90 Governments, UN organisations including UNISDR, and scientific associations, is working to expand the use of satellite imagery and surface data for managing risks posed by fires, floods, earthquakes and other hazards.

Crisis management faced by governments due to high‐frequency natural and human‐induced extreme events requires Earth observation capacities that generally cannot be provided by one country alone; effective response requires regional/international collaboration and coordination.

The Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) represents the collective effort of hundreds of governments and organisations, and thousands of individuals to monitor the Earth system, share and exchange Earth system data, and deliver useful information to society. GEOSS has enabled many countries to access information and thereby provide essential services to address challenges, which otherwise would not have been met.

GEO is promoting broad open data policies and practices, real‐time data‐sharing, and standardised procedures and practices in general, and specifically for tsunami hazard assessments. GEO is developing a globally‐coordinated warning system for wild land fires to improve prediction and emergency response at the local, national and regional levels.

The GEO community is developing decision‐support tools and applications for the full cycle of natural‐disaster management, particularly for developing countries. Space agencies through the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)—the space coordination arm of GEO—have created a Disaster Working Group to help improve disaster risk management (DRM) on a global basis, for all phases of disaster management. CEOS is now preparing an Observation Strategy and three coordinated pilots in the areas of floods, volcanoes and seismic hazards. In addition, and still within the framework of GEO, CEOS is conducting regional demonstrations of a multi-hazard, end-to-end approach to disaster management, focusing on the Caribbean and Africa.

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Space Technology Contribution in Disaster Risk Reduction: UN-SPIDER Efforts

Longei LIU and Shirish RAVAN
UN-SPIDER Beijing Office, UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN-OOSA), Beijing China

Space technology plays a critical role in all stages of disaster management. The role of space-based information is even more valuable in pre-disaster stages such as planning disaster risk reduction activities. With availability of open source earth observation data from various sensors, space technology is able to provide meaningful and timely information for disaster management. Climate extremes can also be studied well, as data from wide range of satellite sensors is accessible. UN-SPIDER strives to enable countries to make effective use of earth observation data in all stages of disaster. One of the core activities of the UN-SPIDER programme (a programme implemented by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs) is the provision of technical advisory support to countries, including carrying out Technical Advisory Missions (TAM). Upon request from the government, TAMs are carried out in several countries in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and Latin America and Caribbean regions. During these missions a team of experts meets disaster management authorities in the government, other key stakeholders involved in use of space-based and geospatial information including UN agencies, regional and international organisations/initiatives and private entrepreneurs. The outcomes are the recommendations and guidelines to enhance the use of space-based information in disaster management. The mission team covers the issues related to disaster management plans, policies, data sharing, coordination, institutional arrangements, spatial data infrastructure etc. This presentation covers the challenges observed and lessons learned in these countries for effective use of geospatial information for disaster management and socio-economic development. The presentation also provides a ‘way forward’ to address these challenges with involvement of the government authorities, local UN agencies and international organisations.

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The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR): Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction in Development

David ROGERS, Vladimir TSIRKUNOV and Daniel KULL
Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, World Bank, Washington, DC., USA

Established in 2006, the GFDRR is a partnership of 41 countries and eight international organisations committed to helping developing countries reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and adapt to climate change. The partnership’s mission is to mainstream disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) in country development strategies.

The presentation focuses on two aspects of the GFDRR – GFDRR labs, which focuses on open data for resilience, mapping disasters, best practices in disaster risk assessment, open software development solve development problems, and building a framework for technical interoperability among GFDRR projects, World Bank projects and similar international efforts; and the GFDRR Hydromet Program, which focuses on strengthening National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in developing countries to deliver services to reduce hydro-meteorological disasters and improve climate-smart economic development by taking full advantage of innovation and advances in surface and space based observations, numerical modelling and weather, climate and hydrological forecasting.

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UNESCO’s Work on the Use of Remote Sensing Tools in DRR for Developing States

UNESCO Beijing Office, Jianguomenwai Compound, Beijing, China

Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information about an object, area, or phenomena through the analysis of data acquired by a device that is not in contact with the object, area, or phenomena under investigation. Technology advancement has made it possible to utilise such data and derivative information in order to reduce the risk of numerous hazards.

UNESCO has been involved, through its Natural Science Sector and its International Hydrological Programme in particular, in the development of decision-making tools utilising remotely sensed data to support member states in their use for Disaster Risk Reduction.

In particular, UNESCO has developed a real time Flood Early Warning system for the Indus river in Pakistan following the 2010 floods that devastated the country and a near real time drought monitor, which has been implemented in Western (ECOWAS Region) and Eastern Africa (IGAD Region).

Furthermore, and following the recent drought in the IGAD region that resulted in the displacement of more than 12 million people (2011), UNESCO applied remote sensing technology (a combination of multi-frequency optic, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)) to rapidly assess alternatively water resources covering thousands of square kilometres in a matter of four months, and provided water to the affected population. In dealing with floods in Venice, UNESCO has been integrating satellite navigation (GNSS), earth observations (EO) and telecommunications for a location-based flood information system.

The presentation herein will make reference to the Organisation’s work in the above mentioned examples.

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