Space technologies helping protect UNESCO designated sites

Source: UNESCOPRESS   Date:2014-05-26

An international dialogue on the use of space technologies in the protection of UNESCO sites took place at China's Mount Huangshan, a World Heritage Site and Global Geopark, from 26-30 May 2014.

The Huangshan Dialogue on UNESCO Designated Places and Sustainable Development sought to enhance communication between UNESCO-designated sites and programmes. It focused on the potential of space technologies to strengthen their management and sustainable development. It discussed the possibility of developing an international initiative to facilitate availability of and access to data - in particular in less developed countries - and made recommendations for specific projects and collaborative activities to address the challenges identified and optimize the contributions of space technologies.

Space technologies provide a key means of solving global environmental and development issues. Aeronautical, astronautical and ground-based monitoring can provide a current view of an ongoing natural or man-made disasters to enable managers to plan for effective response and mitigation measures, as well as time-series imagery to observe the evolution of phenomena or threats.

The Dialogue was co-hosted by International Center on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritages (HIST) and The Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). More than 170 participants gathered to share experiences and lessons on the use of space technologies in support of the conservation and management of UNESCO sites. They include decision-makers, managers and executives from World Heritage sites, biosphere reserves and the Global Geoparks Network as well as representatives from UNESCO, IUCN, ICOMOS and relevant institutions and universities.

During the opening ceremony, Mr. Guo Huadong, Director of HIST, stressed that the integrated applications of space-borne, air-borne and ground based Earth observing technologies would be essential to the study and analysis of global environmental and development challenges.

The event included 15 Keynote speeches and in-depth discussions and presentations of relevant research, case studies, new approaches and promising practices. The principal outcomes of the event were reflected in the "Huangshan Declaration", which was adopted in the afternoon of 29 May. The Huangshan Declaration calls for enhanced cooperation, networking and site-based projects on the use of space technologies for the sustainable management and development of UNESCO sites. It is expected that the Dialogue will become a regularly recurring event in future.

Established in July 2011, the Beijing-based HIST is under the auspices of UNESCO and hosted by The Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which is aimed at providing technical services to UNESCO and its member states on the use of space technologies for UNESCO-designated places.