Summit seeks to make earth observations data accessible

The deputy minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Buti Manamela, has urged the earth observations community globally to ensure citizens feel the impact and relevance of earth observations (EO).

The Deputy Minister was speaking during the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Ministerial Summit in Canberra, Australia, as part of GEO Week 2019. South Africa is GEO co-chair and regional representative for Africa alongside the United States and China.

The deputy minister is leading the South African delegation at the summit, which is focused on promoting open data and knowledge, industry development and public-private partnerships, informed decision-making through the use of EO information products, and cooperation for the achievement of the objectives of global treaties such as the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

South Africa is using its participation in the event to identify opportunities for local industries interested in doing EO business in the African region. Government will reap the benefits of this support through tax returns, job creation and access to global EO technologies, among other things.

With the growing uptake of EO products in the continent, South Africa is working on building an environment that will ensure that the country captures a sizeable global market share.  This can be done by forging partnerships with global space leaders, making sure the South African industry has access to data, developing the required skills, and showcasing indigenous space-based information products and capabilities.

Manamela said GEO’s Global Agriculture Monitoring (GEOGLAM) initiative was one example of community-centred collaboration in the GEO work programme. The initiative has ensured that trusted, accurate and useful data is made available to users and decision-makers. Its Monthly Crop Monitor reports are useful for governments, the agricultural sector, insurance providers and other national and regional stakeholders, providing timely and actionable insights on crop information, he said.

GEO is a voluntary global intergovernmental partnership founded on the principle that Earth observations are crucial for decision-making, planning and sustainable development, and for fulfilling the objectives outlined in global treaties such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Through its 108 member governments and 129 participating organisations, GEO has in the past 15 years made major progress in addressing a range of essential societal benefit areas to address global challenges, such as food security, disaster management, urban settlements and water resource management. GEO Week’s activities include exhibitions, plenaries and executive meetings focusing on accelerating the delivery of GEO’s 2020-2022 Work Programme and bring EO communities together to scale up the impact of EO at national, regional and global level.

Contact Mandla Tshabalala, Higher Education, Science and Technology,

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