UAE: Experts discuss the role of COP28 in highlighting importance of space efforts

Challenges facing the space industry, including safety, exploration and climate change discussed at Abu Dhabi Space Debate


Lamya Tawfik

Published: Tue 6 Dec 2022, 8:53 PM

Last updated: Tue 6 Dec 2022, 9:10 PM

The challenges facing the space industry when it comes to supporting climate change research were discussed during the Abu Dhabi Space Debate on Tuesday.

Speaking on the panel discussion titled ‘COP28 and the space industry’, Sara Venturini Climate Coordinator with GEO Secretariat said that there was a missed opportunity at COP27.

“There was a decision on earth observation and although it encouraged the role of key players in supporting the global climate observing system, the parties weren’t brave enough to use stronger language,” she said

Kristofer Hamel, Head of Adaptation, Recovery and Humanitarian Response at COP28 said that they are currently hearing different voices and pulling different threads to be able to move forward. “We are interested in learning more about what could be done, to use the COP28 platform to advance things like the early warning system,” he said.

According to Selima Ben Mustapha, Head of Earth Observation Applications at the Swedish National Space Agency, a recent budget boost announced at the recently held European Space Agency Ministerial Council meeting means that Europe will stay in the space race and that this will reflect on earth observation programs.

“All members contributed to the budget which was 16.9 billion euros so we can continue to develop our programs to build new satellites for earth observation,” she said, adding that this budget, an 17% increase from the previous one, means that resources will be available.

“Climate change observation is the top of our priority in addition to navigation, exploration, communication and space safety,” she said.

Also speaking on the panel was Shereen Zorba Head, Secretariat, UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment who said that despite data gathering efforts not enough action is taking place. “An increasing number of satellites, public and private, are continuously orbiting and collecting data about the state of the world’s environment at a scale never known before,” she said.

Yet, the world is not on track to meet any of the environmental goals least of all the Paris agreement, she added. This highlights a dilemma between data and knowledge, according to Shereen.

She stressed the importance of having the technology available. “We do not have at scale, the artificial intelligence capabilities, the technology is there but not for free and its implementation at scale can mean the difference between success and failure,” she said.

Curiosity, according to Eytan Stibbe Israeli astronaut and founding director of Vital Capital Fund, is a driver for development and knowledge and said that monitoring the planet is important to understand it and to understand other planets. “If we see lightening on another planet, does that mean that we understand it here? And what it means on other planets?” he said.


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