GMES experts call for investment in Space Science to tackle climate change

Group of Experts and participants at the GMES – ECOWAS workshop

Experts at a three-day regional conference of geographers and other scientists in Ivory Coast have called for more investments in space science in Africa to help tackle the climate change menace.

It is estimated that more than $40 billion will annually be lost or absorbed in Africa due to the consequences of climate change effects. Therefore, to reduce the consequences of climate change in Africa, which has become the most vulnerable despite being the less contributor to climate change, the science experts are advocating a reduced impact of climate change through adaptation measures.

The 12th edition of the 3-day ECOWAS and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) & Africa conference brought together over 150 science experts, students, policy makers and traditional leaders to deliberate on issues affecting the climate. The three consortia that came together are the marine consortium of University of Ghana (Ghana), the lands consortium of “Centre de Suivi Ecologique” (Senegal) and the African Regional Centre for Space Science & Technology Education (Nigeria).The workshop was held in Grand Bassam, Cote d’Ivoire, from 17 to 19 February 2020.

Speaking at the event, the Space Science Expert and Coordinator for the GMES & Africa programme, Dr. Tidianne Ouattara, called for close collaboration with the private sector, while advocating the integration of indigenous knowledge on the ecosystem into the work of scientists.

In explaining briefly the status of the GMES and Africa project, Dr. Ouattara indicates that the second phase of the program will be devoted to climate change.

He charged all countries to have a window for accessing data and underscored the need for a shift from the traditional way and usage of Earth observation data and adopt a new way of using the data.

Dr Tidianne Ouattara, Space Science Expert and Coordinator for the GMES & Africa programme

“People are no longer interested in reading the maps and statistics,” Dr Ouattara added.

He also called for the harnessing of existing capacities and promotion of new ones and the training of students to be able to work with the private sector.

The representative of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Dr. Andre Nouguiera, explained the need for investment in Space science in the region while calling for improved governance in the development of information. 

“We need to address urgent needs of development at National and regional levels by heading towards the production of services and not only producing maps and statistics”.

According to Prof George Wiafe, the Project Manager of the University of Ghana’s consortium, “We must be innovative in encouraging the startup businesses and companies to invest in earth observation, to be able to leave a legacy for the future generation.”

GMES and Africa is an Earth Observation programme of the African Union, jointly established with the European Union, and designed to strengthen capacities in Africa for the optimal exploitation and utilisation of Earth Observation systems, data and technologies towards the continent’s sustainable development.

Source: Regional Marine Centre, University of Ghana

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