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VAE > News

Understanding risk with Earth observation

The risk of natural disasters can be reduced by understanding our environment and the fundamental forces that shape it. Earth-observing satellites can provide vital information to mitigate and prepare for disasters.

Every year, the wet plains of southeastern Cambodia are subject to flooding from the Mekong River during South Asia's monsoon season. The waters threaten infrastructure and crops, putting lives and livelihoods at risk.

But satellites provide data that can be used not only in Cambodia but also in many other high-risk areas around the world. These data can support risk assessment for a range of hazards, from hydrometeorological risks to geo-hazards such as landslides and terrain subsidence.

This was one of the topics discussed at the recent biannual conference on mapping global risk.

Land use in Rio de Janeiro Held in Cape Town, South Africa earlier this month, the Understanding Risk Forum was organised by the World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Risk and Recovery.

The importance of Earth-observing satellites for improving knowledge of hazards and risks came into focus at the Forum's Earth Observation session chaired by ESA alongside the South Africa National Space Agency.

The session brought together the National Hydrological Services of Namibia, the Regional Centre for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development and the World Bank.

Discussions concentrated on how satellite Earth observation can support scientists and operational users for a range of applications. This is the case for disaster prevention and preparedness, as well as the immediate response phase in areas affected by natural disasters.

The session gave the opportunity to unveil the final results of the two-year collaboration between the Earth observation directorate of ESA and the World Bank that focuses on mainstreaming Earth observation services and applications to support the international development community in a range of global risk management activities.