Asia-Pacific region launches five-year initiative to strengthen space technology use to reduce disaster risks and promote sustainable growth

Asia-Pacific countries launched a five-year campaign here today aimed at promoting greater use of space technology and the Geographic Information System (GIS) for improved disaster risk reduction and management as well as to minimize the environmental costs of economic growth in the region.

Beginning on the first day of the annual observance of the 4-10 October, United Nations World Space Week, the Asia-Pacific Years of Action for Applications of Space Technology and the Geographic Information System for Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development 2012-2017 was proclaimed by Asia-Pacific countries meeting at the 68th annual session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) held in Bangkok in May 2012.

To achieve this, the Asia-Pacific Years of Action aims to increase relevant activities at the national, sub-regional and regional levels, while building on efforts to strengthen regional cooperation in applications of space technology and GIS.

ESCAP, in collaboration with partners, plans a series of events to kick start the initiative, including the annual Intergovernmental Consultative Committee on the long standing Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific (RESAP) which will take place on 28-30 November. RESAP supports least developed, land-locked developing and Pacific island developing countries to build human resource capacity in the use of space applications for disaster risk reduction.

Additionally, ESCAP in collaboration with GeoInformatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) of Thailand will organize an intergovernmental meeting in Bangkok in mid-December 2012 with financial contribution from the Government of Japan.

The two intergovernmental meetings will lead to the preparation of a five-year Plan of Action to guide Asia-Pacific countries in the application of these high-end technologies in disaster risk reduction. The Plan of Action will involve specialized agencies, the United Nations system as well as intergovernmental, regional and subregional organizations and other stakeholders in implementing activities in support of the Asia-Pacific Years of Action.