New UN-Japan pact seeks to boost use of space data to reduce disaster risk

12 December 2008

A new agreement between the United Nations and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will enable them to boost their cooperation to use space-based information and services to help reduce the risk of disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.

Under the agreement, JAXA and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) will promote the use of technology, such as satellite imagery, remote sensing and satellite-based communications, for disaster risk reduction and disaster management.

“Although some of ESCAP’s member countries are advanced in the integration of such satellite information and services into their disaster response systems, other countries – in particular least developed countries – are not equipped to analyse and use the data even if it is available and government officials are aware of the benefits,” Shigeru Mochida, ESCAP’s Deputy Executive Secretary, said today at the signing, which took place in Viet Nam during the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum.

The agreement will enable JAXA and ESCAP to increase assistance to ESCAP’s member countries, including by providing the region’s disaster management authorities and the public with important information that will help them deal with disasters more effectively and plan responses in a timely manner.

The new pact is the latest venture by JAXA and ESCAP, which have been working closely for several years to promote the use of space-based information and services in the region. They have assisted a number of countries through the provision of satellite images to disaster-affected areas and with the monitoring of floods, among other things.

According to the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Asia and the Pacific is, by far, the region most affected by disasters in terms of human and economic impacts.

 

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