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A new report by the world’s largest humanitarian aid network highlights global disasters, populations most vulnerable to them and the efforts of local institutions in preventing, preparing for and responding to them. The 2020 edition of the World Disasters Report, “Come Heat or High Water”, was launched virtually from the offices of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Vienna on November 16. This year’s report discusses climate- and weather-related disasters and their humanitarian impact. It argues for the usefulness of smart financing and space-based information in disaster management support.

The report warns that the global effort to address climate change is leaving behind…

Publishing date 19/11/2020

A new report by the world’s largest humanitarian aid network highlights global disasters, populations most vulnerable to them and the efforts of local institutions in preventing, preparing for and responding to them. The 2020 edition of the World Disasters Report, “Come Heat or High Water”, was launched virtually from the offices of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Vienna on November 16. This year’s report discusses climate- and weather-related disasters and their humanitarian impact. It argues for the usefulness of smart financing and space-based information in disaster management support.

The report warns that the global effort to address climate change is leaving behind countries…

Publishing date 19/11/2020

Representatives from the network of UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices (RSO) convene in Vienna for the 9th Annual RSO Coordination Meeting from 18 to 19 June. Held at the United Nations Offices in Vienna, the meeting provides the 23 RSOs the opportunity to propose concrete ways in which they, respectively, could further collaborate with UN-SPIDER and also with other RSOs. The event is a forum for discussion of innovative approaches to disaster management using space-based technologies.

At the meeting, RSO representatives discussed lessons learned from their respective regional capacity-building and knowledge and awareness-raising activities, and their experiences working with the  International Charter “Space and Major Disasters”. Additional discussions included the development and…

Publishing date 18/06/2019

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens and the Austrian Red Cross presented the 2018 World Disasters Report at the United Nations in Vienna on 12 November. The report addresses the need to fill the gaps in humanitarian assistance coverage to avoid the exclusion of the most vulnerable people. Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon participated in the launch.

The 2018 World Disasters Report "Leaving No One Behind: The international humanitarian sector must do more to respond to the needs of the world's most vulnerable people" identifies five flaws in the humanitarian sector. People who are out of sight, out of reach, out of the loop, out of money and/or out of scope are generally left behind by international…

Publishing date 23/11/2018

UNISPACE+50, the first global United Nations space summit in the twenty-first century, has opened today in Vienna, Austria. The event brings together government leaders, policy makers, space experts, and industry and civil society representatives to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

The event is a milestone opportunity to consider the broad societal benefits of space as an area of innovation, inspiration, interconnectedness, integration and investment. It brings together the international community to discuss how to enhance the use of space as a driver of socioeconomic development and consider the future course of global space cooperation for the benefit of humankind.

Organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, which implements the UN-SPIDER programme, UNISPACE+50 consists of a symposium (18-19 June) and high-level segment (20-21) of the 61st session of the Committee on the…

Publishing date 20/06/2018
On 9 and 10 November 2015, UN-SPIDER hosted the autumn meeting of the International Working Group on Satellite-based Emergency Mapping (IWG-SEM). The meeting included representatives of the German Aerospace Center (DLR); the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC); the UN Cartographic Section; the Service Régional de Traitement d'Image et de Télédétection (SERTIT); the Information Technology for Humanitarian Assistance, Cooperation and Action (ITHACA); the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization; the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT); the University of Bonn; the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC); the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). 
In their biannual meeting, the group discussed several topics including map metadata standardization, GeoRSS services, clarifications and procedures related to…
Publishing date 10/11/2015

On October 5 2015 the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Austrian Red Cross, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the Norwegian Embassy launched the 2015 World Disasters Report in Vienna. 

The annual World Disasters Report addresses current and future challenges, trends and innovations in disaster risk reduction and crisis management, by using evidence-based research. This year, the report focalizes on difficulties and challenges experienced by local actors in times of humanitarian response. The report calls for a "localization" of humanitarian aid, as well as a closer and equal relationship between international and local actors. 

Publishing date 23/10/2015

UN-SPIDER’s Senior Programme Coordinator, Mr Luc St-Pierre, addressed the attending delegations of the 57th session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) on 12 June 2014 in a technical presentation.

Mr St-Pierre presented recent UN-SPIDER activities in the areas of technical advisory support, such as missions to Bhutan, El Salvador, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia, as well as training programmes delivered in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Mozambique and Sudan. He also highlighted to the delegates that UN-SPIDER had become active in emergencies such as typhoon Bopha in Palau and the Philippines, typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, or floods in Iraq.

Mr St-Pierre stressed the importance of UN-SPIDER as a knowledge hub: “Knowledge management and dissemination of knowledge are also central elements of UN-SPIDER and a constant focus of our whole team.” UN-SPIDER’s Knowledge Portal is the main instrument…

Publishing date 13/06/2014

"Challenges to our society, including that of global climate change, and to food security and global health, are all interlinked with disasters, and we need a holistic approach," said Mr. Azzedine Oussedik of Algeria, as he accepted election to the Chair of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and opened the 57th session on 11 June 2014.

"We note the need to increase awareness at the global level to fully recognize the importance of space tools and space-derived geospatial information to meet the objectives of the global development agenda."

The Committee is the primary body advancing international cooperation and increasing awareness of the peaceful uses of outer space. The Committee runs until 20 June with a busy agenda including consideration of space and development, which builds upon the momentum from the Rio+20 Outcome Document where governments recognized the importance of space-technology-based data for sustainable development.

In her opening…

Publishing date 12/06/2014

On 13 and 14 May 2014, the International Peace Institute in Vienna organized the seminar "War and Peace in a Digital Age". UN-SPIDER's Programme Coordinator, Luc St-Pierre, was invited to speak about UN-SPIDER during the session "Technology for Peace".

In his presentation, Mr St-Pierre presented the scope of work and the strategic goals of UN-SPIDER and highlighted the relevance of satellite technologies for humanitarian purposes, such as disaster risk reduction or emergency management. He urged for an improved coordination in the use of these technologies so that all countries can access and use them for an improved disaster risk management.

Mr St-Pierre concluded by pointing out that however innovative or powerful new technologies can be in support of actions for disaster risk reduction or emergency response, they will not be streamlined and fully used until governments in developing countries are able to prioritise coordinated programmes for professional and…

Publishing date 15/05/2014

On 18 February 2014, UN-SPIDER presented its Knowledge Portal ( to the delegates of the 51st session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS STSC). UN-SPIDER colleagues gave a short overview of the programme as well as a live presentation of the Knowledge Portal including its most important features and services.

After an evaluation in 2012, the team implemented numerous structural and content-related improvements to the website, which were showcased during the presentation. These include new databases on available satellite data sets and GIS/Remote Sensing software, as well as new profile pages for UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Offices and…

Publishing date 20/02/2014

UN-SPIDER successfully concluded the fifth annual meeting of its Regional Support Offices in the premises of the United Nations Office at Vienna. The meeting took place on 13 and 14 February 2014 and was conducted as a side-event to the 51st session of the Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee of the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Representatives from thirteen of the sixteen Regional Support Offices, staff from the UN-SPIDER programme and from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) discussed lessons learnt regarding the activities carried out by these offices, technical advisory support, knowledge management and outreach activities.

The agenda of the meeting included a revision of activities conducted by these offices in 2013, the UN-SPIDER plan activities for 2014, the current status regarding the elaboration…

Publishing date 14/02/2014

On 3 September 2013, UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER presented a new report which shows the economic, humanitarian and organizational benefits of applying geoinformation to disaster management. The report "The Value of Geo-Information for Disaster and Risk Management (VALID): Benefit Analysis and Stakeholder Assessment" was edited by Professor Orhan Altan of the Istanbul Technical University and Member of the Executive Board of the International Council for Science. The publication aims to raise awareness and to help set priorities in research and development.

The VALID report is a follow-up publication to the Joint Board of Geospatial Information Societies (JBGIS) and UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER published ‘Geoinformation for Disaster and Risk Management – Examples and Best Practices’, a compilation of case studies that provides information on what can be done with geoinformation in support of disaster and risk management – methods, systems, applications, experiences…

Publishing date 03/09/2013

We warmly welcomes our new colleague in the UN-SPIDER Vienna Office, Mr. Coen Bussink. Coen joined UN-SPIDER in August and he will be providing technical and scientific support to the Programme. He is also responsible for organising and leading UN-SPIDER's activities in Africa.

For about two decades, Coen Bussink, a national from the Netherlands, has been using GIS and remote sensing in the area of land use planning, crop monitoring and geographic modelling for development purposes. He was based in several Latin American countries (Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala), where he worked on projects that used geospatial data from catchment to global levels. He was researcher with the CGIAR in Lima, a global agricultural research partnerhsip, and worked with governmental institutions, NGOs and training centres to promote the use of GIS and remote sensing.

After joining the UN in 2004, he became the focal point for GIS/…

Publishing date 30/08/2013

Valentina Tereshkova made her historic space flight as the first woman in outer space on 16 June 1963. The 2013 session of Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) - currently taking place in Vienna - marks the fiftieth anniversary of cosmonaut Tereshkova's historic space flight, using this unique opportunity to commemorate it from the perspective of women pioneers in advanced space and scientific endeavours.
At yesterday's opening session of the Committee the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, Yury Fedotov, recognized the value of women space explorers for future generations: “Space science and technology have made important contributions to areas as diverse as health and disaster management to climate change mitigation and development. The discussion here today makes clear that the peaceful and beneficial use of space relies not only on cooperation between states,…

Publishing date 13/06/2013

Massive floods have heavily affected regions in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and other European countries over the past days taking at least five human lives and causing damages of a yet undetermined extent. In order to better prepare for such floods in the future, satellites such as ESA's SMOS could help to improve the accuracy of flood prediction by measuring the soil moisture. Prior to the torrential rains, SMOS showed that soils in Germany were showing record levels of moisture – in fact, the highest ever observed. The picture shows the wet soils in blues and the dryer soils in yellows.

ESA's Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission monitors the amount of water held in the surface layers of the soil and the concentration of salt in the top layer of seawater. This information is helping scientists understand more about how water is cycled between the oceans, atmosphere and land – Earth’s water cycle. It is also helping to improve weather forecasts.


Publishing date 07/06/2013

On the sidelines of the fiftieth session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee of the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which took place in Vienna, Austria from 11 - 22 February 2013, UN-SPIDER signed agreements with two new partners to establish Regional Support Offices (RSO).

On 12 February 2013, during the 4th annual UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices meeting, the official signing ceremony for the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) was held making ICIMOD the fourteenth RSO. ICIMOD is a regional intergovernmental learning and knowledge sharing centre serving the eight regional member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan – and based in Kathmandu,…

Publishing date 25/02/2013

From 11 to 22 February 2013 the Fiftieth annual session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC) of the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was held in Vienna, Austria. Representatives of 57 Member States attended the session discussing a variety of issues regarding the peaceful use of outer space for the benefit of humankind under the chairmanship of Félix Clementino Menicocci (Argentina). In the 20 meetings held, topics such as space debris, space-based disaster management support or nearearth objects were discussed. During the 2013 STSC session, the continuous committments of the governments of Austria, China and Germany to support UNOOSA’s UN-SPIDER Programme in 2014-2015 was noted with satisfaction by the Subcommittee.

Publishing date 23/02/2013

UN-SPIDER inaugurated on 11 February 2013 its 4th Annual meeting of Regional Support Offices (RSOs) on the premises of the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. The meeting is a side event of the annual session of the Scientific and Technical Sub Committee of the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) taking place from 11-22 February 2013. The meeting's participants included representatives from eleven of the thirteen RSOs and representatives of agencies from Russia, Indonesia and Nepal.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Takao Doi, Chief of Space Applications, highlighted the need for RSOs to define their role more clearly in the context of the UN-SPIDER programme, to sustain efforts to achieve the goals established in UN-SPIDER's plan of work and to discuss potential opportunities for cooperation when considering the Universal Access modality that the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters has recently established.

This annual meeting…

Publishing date 11/02/2013

This March marks an important milestone in the Earth observation calendar. Scientists from all over Europe will be gathering in Graz, Austria, to scrutinise three innovative satellite concepts. One will then be chosen as ESA’s seventh Earth Explorer.

Using breakthrough technology, the series of Earth Explorer satellites is designed to advance science by exploring different aspects of Earth. Together, these missions are improving our understanding of the complex interactions between Earth’s different components and how human activity is affecting natural processes.

The three candidates address gaps in our scientific knowledge of a number of dynamic, complex and interdependent Earth-system processes:

  • Biomass aims to improve estimates of carbon stocks and fluxes through measurements of forest biomass and how they change over time. These data will help to reduce the uncertainty in the distribution and dynamics of forests,…
Publishing date 22/01/2013

On 14 January 2013, around 20 participants from the Austrian Earth Observation Community followed an invitation by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft / FFG) and UN-SPIDER for a one day Matchmaking Workshop in Vienna, Austria.

The day was split into two different thematic blocks and after a short welcoming from Thomas Geist and the FFG the first part of the session was opened by UN-SPIDER and focused mainly on: “Knowledge management for disaster risk reduction and emergency response, and bridging communities”. UN-SPIDER used the opportunity to present its various partnership and future collaboration opportunities. This was followed by presentations form the Austrian academia during which the Technical University of Vienna, Joanneum Research, Z-GIS and the IIASA introduced collaboration opportunities.

The second session focused on the topic of “Providing targeted advisory services to developing countries for disaster…

Publishing date 18/01/2013

The United Nations launched into World Space Week yesterday, with the presentation of a navigation satellite model, donated by Russia, for display at the world body’s offices in Vienna, while also highlighting the contribution space science and technology has made to human development. “Satellite navigation-related technology supports many civil, scientific and commercial functions,” the Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV), Yury Fedotov, stated. “It is widely used in the areas of telecommunications, transportation, meteorology and disaster forecasting.”

The World Space Week is the largest annual space event in the world. Observed during the week of 4-10 October, the General Assembly proclaimed World Space Week in 1999, to celebrate the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition. “This Week has become a world-wide celebration of science and technology, and their contribution to the…

Publishing date 05/10/2012

The United Nations is holding a Symposium on Data Analysis and Image Processing for Space Applications and Sustainable Development: Space Weather in Graz, Austria, from 18 to 21 September 2012. This is the first event in a new series of annual symposia that will address the use of space-derived data analysis and image processing tools in support of sustainable development. Organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), in cooperation with the Government of Austria and supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), the 2012 Symposium focuses on Space Weather data, a timely topic in light of the predicted maximum solar activity during the 2012-2013 period, and the impact that it could have globally. It aims at promoting an active cooperation among the various data collection networks, easier use of specific data collections for better understanding of space weather and solar-terrestrial interactions, and identification of joint activities at the international…

Publishing date 20/09/2012

UNOOSA has finalized a new funding agreement with the Government of Austria, totalling another EUR 150,000 to the UN-SPIDER Programme. This substantial voluntary contribution will support several major activities carried out by the UN-SPIDER Programme, focusing on Technical Advisory Support (including specific support to Pacific Island countries and Africa), Outreach Activities (including the upcoming “United Nations International Expert Meeting on Crowdsource Mapping for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response”) and Emergency Response Support. Together with its new Austrian counterpart “Die Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft (FFG)”, which continues the work from the Ministry of Transportation, Innovation and Technology (bmvit), UN-SPIDER identified key activities to be funded and carried out aiming at helping developing countries incorporate and use space-based information for disaster management and emergency response.

If you are interested in building…

Publishing date 04/09/2012

The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is in session for the 55th time in Vienna, Austria. The session was opened on 6 June, electing Yasushi Horikawa from Japan as Chair, Filipe Duarte Santos from Portugal as Vice-Chair and Piotr Wolanski from Poland as Second Vice-Chair.The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 (resolution 1472 (XIV)) to review the scope of international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters, and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. UN-SPIDER was created on recommendation of COPUOS in 2006.

The 55th session will continue discussions on ways and means of maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, as well as on a variety of topics including spin-offs of space…

Publishing date 12/06/2012