Outer space technology critical to all humanity, UN says

20 June 2008 –

The use of space technology for disaster management, climate change and food security were among the main themes of the 51st session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which wrapped up today in Vienna.

During the 10-day session the committee heard reports on water resource management initiatives that use space technology to monitor and mitigate the effects of flood disasters and to improve the timeliness and accuracy of forecasts.

The UN body also noted global initiatives to use space-derived geospatial data for sustainable development in areas such as agriculture, deforestation assessment, disaster monitoring, drought relief and land management.

In addition, the committee heard about a number of educational initiatives that use satellite technology for distance education to reach teachers and students at all levels, including the Space Education Programme of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Under the theme “Why should we go to space?” the newly elected Chairman of the Committee, Ciro Arévalo Yepes, cited Professor Stephen Hawking in his opening address:

“In a way the situation was like that in Europe before 1492. The discovery of the new world made profound differences to the old. Spreading out into space will have even greater effect. It will completely change the future of the human race and maybe determine whether we have any future at all. Hopefully, it would unite us to face a common challenge," he said.

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