The world has faced unprecedented challenges since the outbreak of COVID-19 that has impacted humanity. Responding to disasters and keeping the cities and communities safe and resilient during a pandemic is no more a ‘business as usual’.
In 2020, several countries faced several unusual as well as intense disasters, for example, torrential rains, floods and mudslides on the southwestern island of Kyushu in Japan, major floods in Jiangxi in China, widespread flooding and landslides from the Southwest Monsoon in South Asia (India, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal), powerful and deadly tropical cyclone Amphan that caused widespread damage in Eastern India and Bangladesh, rare cyclonic storm Nisarg - the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the west coast of India, huge wildfires in the United States and Canada, severe floods in Africa (Sudan, Mauritius and Somalia) and flooding in El Salvador as tropical storm Amanda passed over Central America. These disasters killed scores of people and displaced millions exactly when countries are facing multiple challenges due to the pandemic.
With the measures in place to curb the virus outbreak, the disaster management agencies require much precise information on hazards, risks, and early warning of the upcoming disasters to keep the communities safe and plan an effective emergency response.
The conference will focus on the lessons learned during an unprecedented pandemic situation, especially in employing space-based tools and geospatial information.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is pleased to announce the “United Nations International Conference on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Risk Reduction – ‘Lessons learned during the unprecedented pandemic situation”, to be held from 24-25 November 2020. This conference is organised by the Beijing office of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), a UNOOSA programme.
The conference follows nine conferences held since 2011. Previous conferences covered the themes of “Best practices for risk reduction and rapid response mapping” in 2011, “Risk assessment in the context of global climate change” in 2012, “Disaster risk identification, assessment and monitoring” in 2013, “Multi-hazard disaster risk assessment” in 2014, “A consolidating role in the implementation of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030” in 2015, “Understanding disaster risks” in 2016, “Building resilience through integrated application” in 2017, “Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective emergency response” in 2018 and “Policy perspective” in 2019. These conferences offered a forum for disaster management communities and experts to strengthen their capabilities in using space-based information to identify, assess, monitor and respond to disaster risks and integrate space technology into long-term disaster risk management efforts. Through these conferences, the UN-SPIDER programme of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs connects the disaster management community and providers of geospatial information and develops the programmes to help developing countries to use space-based information in all stages of disaster management.
The objectives of the conference are:
- To address the challenges posed by the Covid-19 outbreak to the disaster management community;
- To share experiences of how space-based technologies were effectively employed to better mitigate disasters during the challenges posed by the pandemic situation;
- To highlight the complementary and inclusive use of space-based technologies in areas related to climate adaptation and disaster resilience;
- To engage with the disaster management community through the UN-SPIDER programme to offer technical advisory support, especially to developing countries.
The conference is expected to provide ideas to help the disaster management stakeholders to formulate programmes to achieve the following:
- Strengthening international cooperation to developing countries, through the use of space-based technologies, for supporting implementation of Sendai Framework;
- Guidance on incorporating the use of space-based information in national DRR strategies and action plans;
- Understanding of advance space technology solutions to address multiple challenges related to climate change, disaster risk management and Covid-19 outbreak.