European Union brings Copernicus Programme to Philippines

Mont Saint-Michel, France -- Copernicus Sentinel-2 data (2018).
Mont Saint-Michel, France -- Copernicus Sentinel-2 data (2018).

THE European Union Delegation to the Philippines last March 11 the EU Earth Observation Copernicus Programme during its national conference on Copernicus Systems and Applications held in Makati City.

The conference is a platform for international and local scientists, technologists, policy-makers, development workers and business people, to discuss ways on how to maximize the use of Copernicus technology to address the environmental monitoring requirements of various industries and sectors of the country.

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen opened the programme with an overview of the EU’s commitment to build strategic cooperation with the Philippines in space technology, particularly in the field of earth observation for environmental management.

In this conference, government officials and experts highlighted the priority challenges faced by the Philippines in the areas of disaster management, climate change, food security and urban planning, and how advanced satellite technologies can address these.

Keynote speakers included National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Renato Solidum.

European Space Agency (ESA) Head of Science, Applications and Climate Department Stephen Coulson explained how earth observation is making major contributions in the field of international development.

Dr. Ugo Cortesi of the Italian National Research Center division on Copernicus (CNR) and Rory Donnelly of the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) discussed how Copernicus services and Earth observation will benefit current and future applications in society, industry and economy of various nations.

Stephen Coulson and Alan Mills showed how the Copernicus Programme operates and how anyone can access free data through a series of hubs.

Marc Bonazountas and Ugo Cortesi delved into more technical detail about the satellites and instruments that measure the earth and how they compare with other satellite systems.

The programme presented several case studies demonstrating the successful implementation of satellite technology in waste management, environment monitoring, urban planning, emergency management, agriculture, land management, and other areas.

Long-term commitment

To further demonstrate EU’s commitment to the long-term success and implementation of the Copernicus Programme, the conference also presented the partnership aspects and funding opportunities for agencies and individuals who will develop and harness the information from satellite technology for a wide range of applications in their respective areas.

The perspective on collaboration was delivered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), represented by its Chief Thematic Officer Chiara Bronchi. She discussed the range of applications of Copernicus technology among experts from the European Space Agency and Philippine government agencies, particularly the DOST and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria).

A vital, free service

Earth monitoring is more vital than ever especially for a disaster-prone country like the Philippines.

The uniqueness of the Copernicus Programme is its ability to monitor the earth to ensure that citizens are prepared and protected during natural or man-made disasters.

In addition to providing high-resolution global spatial coverage, the Copernicus Programme promotes full, free and open use of its information to all its users and the general public.

By making the vast majority of its data and maps freely available and accessible, Copernicus contributes toward the development of innovative applications and services, tailored to the needs of specific groups of users, and covering a variety of economic and developmental activities from urban planning and marine protection to disaster reduction and management.

Smartphone users, for instance, can access data captured from outer space, which when analyzed and processed in real-time become weather forecasting and geological monitoring. This helps in determining upcoming rainfalls and temperature variations, as well as identifying land degradation, resource extraction, spread of insect borne-diseases, crop yields, or managing disasters, among other areas.

Building on the foundations of deeply-rooted scientific knowledge and on decades of EU investment in research and technological development, Copernicus is exemplary of European strategic cooperation in space research and industrial development.

Since its operation in 2014, the European Union has already invested €9.6 billion in the programme with an additional €5.8 billion allocation proposed for 2021–2027.

The programme is generating economic benefits exceeding the investment not to mention the non-monetary benefits. (PR)


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