RIO+20 Summit Highlights Earth Observation


Satellite images, such as this one of Sudan, helped to prompt discussion at the recent RIO+20 Summit. The image shows signs of land degradation around settlements in central Sudan.

The role of Earth observation in sustainable development was front and center at the Rio+20 summit on promoting jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable use of our planet’s resources.

In 1992, a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now, 20 years later, the Rio+20 Summit brought participants from governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders once again to Brazil to evaluate the progress being made.

During a side event organized by the European Space Agency, the significance of observing Earth from space came into focus, in particular how it improves the assessment and the monitoring of essential climate change, biodiversity and land degradation variables. Earth-observing satellites allow for efficient, reliable and affordable monitoring of our planet from global to local scales. In many cases, satellite-based Earth imaging is the only way to obtain trend information on essential environmental variables.

Rio+20 saw additional side events on Earth observation organized by the Group on Earth Observations, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Image courtesy of ESA/ GLCF/DLR.

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