The 2019 Living Planet Symposium Deliberates on How Earth Observation Contributes to Sustainable Development

The African Partnership Panel at the Living Planet Symposium 2019 (LPS19), highlighted the need to create indigenous capacity for Earth Observation services in Africa. This is important in responding to the socio-economic goals stated in the African Agenda 2063. Organized by the European Space Agency, the 2019 Living Planet Symposium was held from 13 to 17 May 2019, in Milan, Italy.

Panelists attended at the African Partnership Panel at LPS19 

The symposium deliberated on how Earth Observation contributes to science and society. It further delved into how disruptive technologies and actors are changing the traditional Earth Observation landscape, and dwelt on creating new opportunities for public and private sectors.

Panelists at the African Partnership Panel included Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, Space Science Expert and GMES and Africa Program Coordinator at the African Union Commission; Gina Bonne, Officer in Charge of the Environment and Climate Change Department at the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC); Andiswa Mlisa, Managing Director, Earth Observation at the South African National Space Agency (SANSA); Andre Nonguierma, Chief of GISS section at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); and Pierre Sibiry Traore, Director of Research and Development at Manobi. 

The African Partnership Panel discussed, among other things, the needs for geospatial and EO derived information for policy and socio-economic development in Africa, in light of Agenda 2063 of the African Union and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Panel also identified and discussed opportunities, challenges and solutions to facilitate the full user uptake and potential of Earth Observation in Africa including the latest technology such as cloud computing and integration with in-situ observation networks. The deliberations further touched on the possibilities for enhancing outreach to African users, need for capacity development, as well as development and transfer of EO knowledge to African universities and institutions. 

The Panel recommended, among other things, to perform a gap analysis to identify EO products to be developed in the context of the GMES and Africa themes; as well as to empower the African research community with access to cloud computing infrastructure to exploit and access available EO data. The strengthening of collaboration with African Institutions to increase uptake of EO related information by policymakers was also recommended by the Panel. 

The adoption of the African Space Policy and Strategy by African Heads of State and Government in 2016 marked a new chapter in space research and technology and in the development of the space sector in Africa. In this context, the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa), is a big step forward to establish Earth Observation services in Africa using the Copernicus Sentinel data and services. GMES and Africa is a joint initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC) and the European Union (EU).