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Climate Change: France’s CNES Hosts Space Climate Observatory Meeting

Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, speaking in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Photograph courtesy of WAM.

The French national space agency, the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES), hosted the first international meeting of the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) at its head office in Paris on 1 February 2019.

This working meeting brought together more than 25 space agencies and four international organizations, with representatives from the European Commission, the African Union and the United Nations in attendance. The founding meeting was intended to set out and refine the concept and goals of the SCO and to discuss its implementation with a view to arriving at an international memorandum of understanding between agencies and organizations ready to commit to the project.

The SCO is an international observatory leveraging satellite data to understand and measure the impacts of climate change. The day’s rich and constructive discussions served to outline its future configuration. The SCO will exploit the abundant record of satellite data, essential climate variables (ECVs) and other spatial data products to meet the key challenge of making them even more interoperable, standardized and tailored to climate change impacts. More-unified access to all of these data, as well as to in-situ measurements and models, will help within the scientific community and beyond to develop impact indicators at national and territorial scales, to track their evolution and to establish projections for the decades ahead based on measured or announced changes in climate.

The topic of international coordination naturally closed out this founding meeting for the SCO and was acknowledged as being vital to ensure that data are pooled and knowledge shared for the benefit of populations and nations. To enable the greatest possible number of agencies to work together to build the SCO, participants set themselves the goal of signing a joint declaration on the occasion of the third edition of the One Planet Summit, which will be held on 14 March 2019 in Nairobi alongside the fourth meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly.

After the meeting, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall said: “Thank you to the many representatives who came to this first working meeting that enabled us to confirm the commitment of the majority of you to implementing the SCO. It would be ideal if a joint declaration could be signed and approved by your respective organizations at the One Planet Summit on 14 March in Nairobi. This statement of intent will then become the founding element of the SCO and the tangible sign of our commitment to reach the climate change coping and adaptation goals of the Paris Agreement, which will contribute to monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030.”

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