The United Nations and the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water co-organise the International Conference on the Use of Space Technology for Water Management every three years in various host countries around the world. Previous conferences have been held in Riyadh, Buenos Aires, and Rabat.
The 4th Conference took place in Islamabad from 26 February to 2 March 2018. It was hosted by the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO).The UN organiser was the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
The conference promotes the use of space technology applications for water resources, with a particular focus on providing benefit to developing countries.
"At UNOOSA, we work to bring the benefits of space to everyone, everywhere. Considering that humankind must do more to preserve our precious water resources, it is of the utmost importance that we raise awareness of how to use space technologies to address water-related issues. This conference also demonstrates how space can contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 'Clean water and sanitation' and, by extension, all 17 Sustainable Development Goals," said UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo.
“Not only does space technology provides cost-efficient methods for water management, it also accurately monitors and predicts the long-term trends of depletion of resources,” said Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Power, Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, addressing the Conference at its concluding session on Friday.
Space technologies, including satellite remote sensing technology in particular, have demonstrated proven capabilities in meeting challenges of water resource management, as rapid population growth and development pressures continue to impose additional stresses on scarce resources. Continuous Earth observations from space are crucial to manage water resources for the benefit of humankind and the environment, as well as to provide important forecasting services to prevent water-related disasters such as floods and droughts.
Remote sensing satellites provide data on several key water-related variables (for example, rainfall, precipitations, floods, droughts, water storage, soil moisture and evaporation) using spatial and temporal scales that are appropriate for reliable assessment. A satellite-based approach to assessment and management of water resources is especially important in countries and regions of the world where adequate hydrological networks do not exist.
Leading water officials from over 30 countries were in attendance. PSIPW and UNOOSA engaged in high-level stakeholder meetings with a number of these delegates in developing the Space and Water portal, a joint project that will be publicly launched later in this year. A working prototype of the portal was previously developed by PSIWP in 2012.