13th International Symposium on Digital Earth Held in Greece


From 11 to 14 July 2023, the 13th International Symposium on Digital Earth was successfully held in Athens, Greece. The Symposium was hosted by the International Society for Digital Earth (ISDE) and was organized by the Harokopio University of Athens. With the theme of “Earth Intelligence to Understand and Protect Our Living Planet”, the symposium attracted around 200 participants from 24 countries including China, Greece, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, etc.

The opening ceremony.

On the afternoon of July 11th, the opening ceremony was held at the Main Auditorium of Harokopio University of Athens, Greece. Prof. Efthimios Karymbalis, President of the Geography Department, Prof. Kalliopi Sapountzaki, Dean of School of Environment, Geography and Applied Economics, and Prof. George Malindretos, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Educational Care, who are all from Harokopio University of Athens, delivered the welcoming remarks. And Dr. Alessandro Annoni, President of ISDE delivered the opening remarks.

In the subsequent plenary session, Prof. Huadong Guo, Honorary President of ISDE, took the lead to deliver a keynote speech on “Digital Earth Science Platform in Facilitating Sustainable Development Goals”. Dr. Alessandro Annoni, President of ISDE then elaborated on the similarities and differences between the Digital Earth and the Digital Twin of the Earth through his keynote speech themed “Is Digital Earth the Digital Twin of the Earth?” Afterward, two additional keynote speeches were presented. They are “Immersive Technologies and Extended Reality: Implications for Digital Earth and Beyond” given by Prof. Arzu C?ltekin from University of Applied Sciences & Arts Northwestern Switzerland and “Artificial Intelligence in Earth Observation for Disaster Risk Management” delivered by Prof. Ioannis Papoutsis, National Observatory of Athens Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications & Remote Sensing. All the speeches had been highly acclaimed by the present delegates.

On the morning of July 12th, Prof. Maria Antonia Brovelli from the GIS and Digital Mapping, Politecnico di Milano, Milan delivered her speech on “Training the Machines with Geospatial Data”, and Prof. Costas Varotsos, Dean of the School of Science of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece gave a talk on “Advances in Remote Sensing and Nowcasting of Extreme Environmental Events”. On the morning of July 13th, Prof. Fulong Chen form the International Research Centre of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals (CBAS), and Prof. Hiromichi Fukui from the Chubu University delivered keynote speeches titled “Remote Sensing Empowers the Sustainability of Cultural Heritage Sites” and “Designing a resilient society that achieves SDGs through the social implementation of the Digital Earth”, respectively.

In total, 226 abstracts were submitted to the symposium, and 135 abstracts were finally presented, including 104 oral presentations and 31 poster presentations. Except the 8 invited keynote speeches, 23 parallel sessions and 2 workshops were held during the Symposium. The parallel session topics covered “GeoAI Knowledge Transfer, Interoperability, and Technology Transition”, “Satellite Systems: Present and Future”, “Climate Change and Adaptation”, “Earth Observation for Hydrological Events”, “Earth Observation and GIS”, “Innovative Practices in Agriculture”, “Artificial Geospatial Intelligence”, “Ocean Surface and Lower Atmosphere / Coastal Zone Management”, “Societal Issues & Opportunities for Digital Earth”, “New Frontiers in Digital Earth”, “Big Earth Data Platforms”, “Natural Hazards & Disaster Risk Reduction”, “Data, Science and Technologies for Digital Earth”, “Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic”, “Resilient Cities & Communities”, “Cultural Heritage Monitor and Preservation”, and “Monitoring and Protection of Biodiversity”.

On the afternoon of July 12th, the ISDE Assembly (also the ISDE Meet-and-Greet session with ISDE Council members and Symposium participants) was held. The ISDE Council members briefed the participants with an introduction to the organizing structure and work of ISDE, and the Digital Earth Vision and ISDE work plan in the near future. And then ISDE Council members fully exchanged thoughts with the participants, listened to their voice and answered their questions. This event was a grand gathering among the ISDE Community and the 13th Symposium attendees, and functioned as a bridge between anyone who is greatly interested in the ISDE activities and being ISDE members.

On July 14, two special workshops were organized, attracting quite a lot of attendees and wide discussions. Co-chaired by Prof. Cheryl Desha from Griffith University, Australia (ISDE WG4 co-chair), Dr. Luis Pérez-Mora from Griffith University , Australia (ISDE WG2 co-chair) and Dr. Sven Schade from Joint Research Centre, European Commission (ISDE WG2 co-chair), the workshop of “Building a Global Conscience through Industry-Connected Citizen Engagement” was convened focusing on delivering on several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, drawing on dialogue about the advancements in Citizen Empowerment and Corporate initiatives. Through group discussion and interactive communication, insights from this workshop would form a joint report on opportunities arising for industry and civil society by the aforementioned two Working Groups by the end of 2023. Another workshop of “Big Earth Data in Sustainable Cities” concentrated on the big Earth data and SDGs, highlighted by 6 keynote speeches delving into the detailed sub-fields revolving around this thematic area.

At the closing ceremony on July 14th, Prof. Issaak Parcharidis, the LOC chair of the 13th Symposium made a comprehensive summary of the event. Prof. Changlin Wang, the Secretary-General of ISDE conferred an award on Prof. Issaak Parcharidis, recognizing his outstanding leadership and remarkable contribution to this successful event and an award on CONVIN S.A. for its contribution in organizing the Symposium. Dr. Alessandro Annoni, the ISDE President delivered closing remarks, announcing the 10th Digital Earth Summit in Rwanda in 2024, and the 14th International Symposium on Digital Earth in Chongqing, China in 2025 and welcoming all the delegates to attend the next Summit and Symposium. On behalf of the LOC of the 14th International Symposium on Digital Earth in 2025, Prof. Changlin Wang took over the Symposium Flag from the LOC of the 13th Symposium.

The Symposium Flag handover ceremony.

The closing ceremony group photo.

On July 10th before the Symposium, the 20th ISDE Council Meeting was held. At the meeting, extensive issues were discussed, including the work report of ISDE, the renewal of ISDE Council and Bureau, the bids of next ISDE Symposium and Summit, the work of ISDE Chapters, Working Groups and Young Scientist Innovation Network (YSIN), etc. ISDE Council members, Chapter co-chairs, Working Group co-chairs, the 13th Symposium LOC chair, and YSIN vice-president, 16 persons in total attended the meeting in person, and 4 Council members and next ISDE Symposium and Summit applicants attended online.

The 20th ISDE Council Meeting.