SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: Nation, Europe in Earth Observation Pact

The South African National Space Agency and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre have signed an agreement to collaborate in using remote sensing technologies to monitor the environment to help improve international disaster risk management.

According to a statement released by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the agreement aims to "better exploit remote sensing technologies for monitoring atmospheric, terrestrial and marine environments".

The JRC is the European Commission's in-house science service and is actively involved in working with national and international partners on crisis management technologies; analysis and application of remote sensing data; natural hazard modelling; information mining and analysis for vulnerability assessments; and civil engineering.

The collaboration agreement was signed in Brussels, Belgium last Thursday at a high-level meeting on scientific collaboration to improve disaster anticipation and resilience.

The meeting was initiated by commissioner for research, innovation and science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, and included senior officials of the European Commission. the World Bank and the United Nations.

"Science and technology offer key solutions to improve preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters, including those related to climatic change," the JRC said.

"The scope of this agreement is to work together on a better understanding of dynamics and evolution of our natural environment through optimal exploitation of Earth observation data and to develop technologies and services which support not only national policies - [such as] agriculture monitoring - but also international issues and policies for disaster risk reduction, early warning and emergency management."

It was also expected that the signing of the agreement would assist in "fostering partnerships to advance international scientific collaboration", the Commission said.

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