Foreword

Dr Jane Olwoch
Managing Director: SANSA Earth Observation

dr_jane_olwoch

The important role that satellite Earth observation plays in achieving sustainability of environmental, social and economic systems is more pressing than ever before.

Population growth and its subsequent growing demand for resources, especially in some of the world’s most populous countries, continues to deprive the environment of its natural abilities to regulate itself. Very high consumption rates in the majority of rich nations contribute to the increase in greenhouse gases: the biggest contributor to climate change. Water pollution and high consumption rates expose human development to increasing vulnerability as usable water dwindles to almost a vanishing point.

As a result of high industrialisation, energy needs are growing in both developed and developing countries. Additional energy demand and use is a result of global inequality through which developing countries aspire to catch up with developments in the Western world.

Water pollution and high consumption rates expose human development to increasing vulnerability…
Mineral resources are under strain from unprecedented exploitation, with some of them nearing exhaustion or already undergoing irreversible changes. This leads to a vicious cycle of poverty and global environmental change from overexploitation of fossil fuel, pollution, climate change and all its negative impacts on social and economic sectors, including livelihoods.
From their advantages of non-intrusive observation, uniformity, rapid measurements and data continuity, satellite Earth observation allows for the collection of data, without compromising national sovereignty, over sites that cannot be accessed by other means. Their uniformity also allows for the same sensor to be used in different places in the world, thus helping to ensure that the data collected are comparable as it is generated by the same instrument. Moreover, rapid measurement capacity allows sensors to be targeted in relatively short order at any point on Earth, including remote and hostile areas, while continuity with single sensors or a series of sensors provides long-time series that can be collected over the lifetime of the spacecraft. Such continuity is particularly important for climate studies. These advantages allow for satellitederived Earth-observation data, products and tools to offer key information to aid effective decision-making across a diverse range of fields, including agriculture, irrigation, water resources management, forest and wildlife management, environment and climate change, health, coastal and maritime environment management, transport and logistics, disaster management and safety and security.

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrowed it from our children - Indian Proverb
The biggest challenge to be tackled is to reduce the gap between scientists on the one hand and policymakers, students and the public at large on the other. One way to do so is through targeted capacity-building activities and better communication of satellite Earth observation capabilities in a way that meets the needs of each stakeholder.


Back to top


© Copyright: South African National Space Agency 2015. All rights are reserved.