UN and China to Share Satellite Data for Disaster Risk Reduction

The UN and China have teamed up to share satellite data and space-based information for disaster risk reduction. The data will aid with the preparedness, mitigation and early warning actions for disasters such as floods and storms.

The agreement between the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) was signed in Beijing earlier this month.

Chinese satellite Earth Observation data will now be harnessed to support the United Nations in the areas of disaster management and disaster risk reduction. The agreement is in line with commitments made under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which was adopted at The Third UN World Conference in Sendia, Japan in March 2015.

Under the new agreement UN-SPIDER, the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response, will benefit from increased collaboration with CNSA and, in particular, will have access to Chinese satellite imagery. From now on, Chinese satellites may be tasked with acquiring current imagery over specific areas of interest when relevant for the disaster management cycle.

Satellite imagery and space-based information are vital in helping the UN to respond to disasters such as floods, in particular those across wide, remote areas such as the current floods in Myanmar, or recent floods in Pakistan.

At the signing of the agreement, Simonetta Di Pippo, UNOOSA Director, said: “This agreement is crucial for the support OOSA provides worldwide towards disaster management, disaster risk reduction or environmental monitoring, and is also opening the path for more such agreements between the United Nations and governmental entities providing Earth observation imagery. In signing this agreement, the United Nations will have direct access to the satellite data from Chinese satellites for the benefit of all member states.”