Press Releases

UNIS/OS/313
9 September 2005

United Nations to Hold Symposium on Space Systems for Protecting and Restoring Water Resources in Graz     

VIENNA, 9 September (UN Information Service) -- A four-day Symposium on "Space Systems: Protecting and Restoring Water Resources" will be held at the Space Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Graz, Austria, from 13 to 16 September. The Symposium is being organized within the framework of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), the Government of Austria, Joanneum Research and the European Space Agency (ESA). It is the last in a series of three consecutive symposia, held from 2003 to 2005, with the aim of promoting the demonstrated capabilities of space technology to support some of the actions called for in the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002. The Symposium will be hosted and co-sponsored by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, the Province of Styria, the City of Graz and ESA.

Water shortages and floods cause serious problems in many countries, and space applications can contribute to cost-effective water resource management as well as to prediction and mitigation of water-related emergencies. In view of the unequal distribution of water resources, space-based solutions to water management are of particular importance to developing countries. The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) has agreed that scientific data converted into practical information, which is readily available, through various space applications, should be used on a wider scale in managing water resources and in predicting and mitigating water-related emergencies.

Among other initiatives taken in the follow-up to the previous symposium of this series, held in September 2004, the Symposium will review the progress report on a pilot project to use space technology for water resources management of Lake Chad. The Symposium will also address the use of space technologies to combat desertification, to ensure access to safe drinking water and to manage water-related emergencies, such as floods, tsunamis and mudslides, as well as epidemiological, sanitary and humanitarian aspects of such emergencies.

The specific objectives of the Symposium are: (i) to review progress made in the development and implementation of pilot projects that use space technologies to enhance management, protection and restoration of water resources, provide drinking water, mitigate water-related emergencies and combat desertification; (ii) to examine what low-cost space-related technologies and information resources are available for addressing water-related challenges in developing countries; (iii) to examine what type and level of training is required for which target groups in using space technologies for addressing water-related challenges; (iv) to identify a functional partnership that could be established to promote the use of space-related technology and information for water resource management; (v) to enhance the participation of women in decision-making on water resource management; and (vi) to select a topic for consideration by future similar symposia.

Around 70 decision makers and programme managers from governmental institutions and the private sector from the following countries and organizations are expected to attend the Symposium: Algeria, Angola, Austria, Bhutan, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Ecuador, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Samoa, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam. The following international organizations will participate: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Organization Satellite (UNOSAT), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), OOSA and the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

Press briefing

A press briefing with the participation of organizers of the Symposium and experts will take place, at which journalists will be provided with information on the issues that will be addressed during the Symposium.

Date and time: 13 September 2005 11:00 a.m.

Place: Institute for Space Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Schmiedlstrasse 6, Graz, Austria.

For information on the press briefing, please contact:

Hans-Peter Weingand,
Public Relations, Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft
Tel: +43 (316) 876 1150
 Mobile: +43 (699) 1876 1150
E-mail: hans-peter.weingand@joanneum.at ; pr@joanneum.at

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The United Nations Programme on Space Applications is implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and works to improve the use of space science and technology for the economic and social development of all nations, in particular developing countries. Under the Programme, the Office conducts training courses, workshops, seminars and other activities on applications and capacity building in subjects such as remote sensing, communications, satellite meteorology, search and rescue, basic space science, satellite navigation and space law.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at http://www.unoosa.org/ .