SPEAR News and Advances

As part of the SPEAR project, UN-SPIDER and ZFL engage in a number of activities related to raising awareness about the benefits of space-based information for disaster management, developing Earth-observation-based knowledge products to be used by civil protection agencies and other relevant stakeholders, providing technical advisory support to African partners, fostering knowledge management and strengthening partnerships. This page provides an overview of these activities.



As the year 2021 comes to an end, the team at UN-SPIDER wants to take this chance to look back at some of our highlight activities during the year. Dominated by challenges provoked by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and its consequences, the world faced many challenges and will continue to do so in the next year and more years to come.

But not only the COVID-19 crisis challenges the world. In recent years, communities around the world began to experience foreseen and unforeseen impacts of the combination of climate change, improperly planned development processes, uncontrolled urban expansion, population growth, political crises, rising inequalities within and among countries, and improper management of the environment. Many countries and regions in the world faced disasters of various kinds and it is more crucial than ever to use available technologies and explore new possibilities in tackling disasters and their consequences.

It is our mission to “… Read more

The UN-SPIDER programme of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces (ZFL) of the University of Bonn successfully concluded the UN-SPIDER Bonn International Conference: “Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management in Africa: Networks and Information Technologies in times of crisis”. The virtual conference brought together more than 130 experts and participants from African, Asian, and European institutions to take note of novel applications developed by the space community to contribute to disaster management efforts, and advances by African and European institutions on the use of satellite technologies in their activities.

The conference, held from 16 to 18 November, was opened by the Director of UNOOSA, Ms. Simonetta Di Pippo, who noted the need to address the challenges posed by hydrometeorological hazards using space technologies.  Opening remarks were also provided by senior officers of… Read more

Natural and man-made disasters continue to cause tremendous damage to societies around the world. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all countries around the world, the effects of climate change on hydrometeorological and other hazards cannot be ignored. The trend of very intense forest fires that took place in 2019 in Australia, Brazil and the United States continued this year in Greece, Turkey, and other countries; and regions of Germany saw the impacts of unprecedented floods and debris flows that triggered massive losses. In contrast, regions in Southwestern Canada and the north-western segment of the United States experienced a very severe heatwave.

To address these challenges posed by natural hazards that are exacerbated by climate change, UN-SPIDER and ZFL are joining forces to organize the UN-SPIDER Bonn International Conference (virtual): “Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management in Africa. Networks and Information Technologies in times of… Read more

Southern Africa is exposed to hydrometeorological, geological, coastal and biological hazards.  The region has been hard hit by droughts in recent years. Tropical cyclone Idai triggered massive floods in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe in March 2019, and in 2020 several countries experience a severe locust outbreak.  And unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to impact all countries in this region.

To continue efforts to promote the use of space technologies in disaster risk management, emergency response and recovery efforts, UN-SPIDER and the Centre for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces of the University of Bonn (ZFL) joined forces to organize the UN-SPIDER / ZFL Regional Virtual Expert Meeting for Southern Africa "Space-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Response" from 13 to 15 July 2021. This regional expert meeting contributed to the efforts conducted by UN-SPIDER on disaster risk reduction, preparedness, early warning… Read more

To support the National Office of Civil Protection (ONPC) of Tunisia and other government agencies in using space-based information for disaster management, UN-SPIDER conducted a three-day training in Tunis from 9 to 11 March. The course highlighted the relevance and usefulness of remote sensing and satellite data as a decision-making tool in risk and disaster management. It focused on the UN-SPIDER Recommended Practice for flood mapping with Sentinel-1 radar data to support authorities in responding to recurring floods in the country.

Twelve participants attended the event, which introduced them to remote sensing and provided an overview of synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) principles, before walking them step-by-step through downloading, processing and mapping data from the Sentinel-1 satellite using the free and open source software solutions SNAP and QGIS. The training also… Read more