Ministerial conference in Bangkok adopts declaration to advance space applications in Asia-Pacific

General Press Releases Wednesday October 10, 2018 17:04
Bangkok--10 Oct--ESCAP-SCAS

Ministers and high-level officials from nine countries in Asia-Pacific have committed to advance regional cooperation and leverage the use of space applications to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The ministerial declaration agreed at a High-level conference co-organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Royal Government of Thailand, in Bangkok today, brought together space faring countries and those that do not have such capacity on the use of geospatial information and space applications for sustainable development. For example, Mongolia which is one of the pilot countries of the regional drought mechanism, a month ago, established its own drought monitoring system, with the technical support provided by our regional service nodes in China, India and Thailand.

Opening the Conference, Mr. Hongjoo Hahm, Officer-in-Charge of ESCAP highlighted that endorsement of the ministerial declaration reaffirms the commitment of governments to the key role of space applications in regional efforts toward sustainability.

In noting how ESCAP's Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development has made concerted efforts to promote geospatial services across the region to support disaster risk reduction and sustainable development Mr Hongjoo Hahm said "Our region has the potential to achieve a developmental transformation that will serve as a global model on the cooperative use of innovative technologies for the common good of humankind."

Space applications and innovation have the potential to boost progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by leveraging space-based data and deepening regional partnerships. Yet many countries in the region still face challenges in terms of access, coordination and the use of geospatial information.

To address the gaps, and build upon decades of investment in space applications, the Conference also agreed on the Asia-Pacific Plan of Action on Space Applications for Sustainable Development (2018 – 2030) - a regionally-coordinated blueprint that harnesses space applications and digital innovations to support countries, particularly those with special needs, to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

"We are glad to see that the plan of action essentially embraces the emerging innovations in digitization and bridges the regional resources with national users, to integrate geospatial information across multiple sectors, through the modalities of enhanced capacity building, research and knowledge sharing, and regional practices," said H.E. Air Chief Marshal, Prajin Juntong Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice & Chair of the National Committee on Space Policy, Thailand in his keynote speech.

"We are of the view that activities under the plan are clearly focused on the key challenges the region faces in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, notably disaster risk reduction and resilience building, effective management of natural resources, and climate change adaption," he added.

This comprehensive framework will guide the work of UN agencies and international and technical organizations to support national efforts in enhancing the use of space applications for sustainable development. The Plan will also provide a consolidated needs-assessment for the region to better harmonize and coordinate development efforts.

The meeting agreed that the next Ministerial Conference would be held in four years time, which coincides with the end of the first phase of implementation of the action plan.

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