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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Director-General signs agreement with JAXA President to use advanced space technologies to monitor World Heritage sites

Director-General signs agreement with JAXA President to use advanced space technologies to monitor World Heritage sites
  • © JAXA

On 2 December 2008, during an official visit to Japan (see Flash Info N°173-2008), the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, signed a cooperation Agreement with the President of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Mr Keiji Tachikawa.

Under this agreement, JAXA will lend its support to the UNESCO-European Space Agency (ESA) ‘Open Initiative on the use of space technologies for the benefit of World Heritage sites’. Since the launch of the initiative in 2001, ESA has provided UNESCO with satellite images and technical assistance to monitor World Heritage sites in Africa and Latin America. In March 2005, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also joined the initiative, following an agreement between UNESCO and NASA, bringing additional support to the monitoring of sites worldwide. The new Agreement with JAXA will extend this support to cover World Heritage Sites across Asia.

“UNESCO is pleased to welcome JAXA into the growing network of space agencies, space research institutions, universities and private sector organizations that aim to use space technologies to preserve the world’s natural and cultural heritage”, the Director-General stated in the ceremony organized to mark the signing of the agreement. “UNESCO is now cooperating with more than fifty space agencies, space research institutions and universities”, he added.

“Space technologies are a valuable tool to document and monitor the conservation of World Heritage sites, which are increasingly threatened not only by the traditional causes of decay, but also by human developments in their surroundings, changing social and economic conditions and natural disasters, including climate change”, the Director-General said. He noted that space technologies were of particular use to developing countries, where the necessary tools for conservation, such as quality maps and monitoring, were often lacking.

“With the signing of today’s agreement, UNESCO’s Member States will benefit from JAXA’s cutting edge space technology and its associated Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) also known as “Daichi”, Mr Matsuura explained. He drew special attention to JAXA’s ability to assist UNESCO’s Member States in managing World Heritage sites affected by natural disasters, notably through the ‘Sentinel Asia’ programme, which promotes international cooperation to monitor natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.

The President of JAXA, Mr Tachikawa, said that the agency was proud to assist UNESCO in its important role of helping to preserve the world’s cultural and natural heritage. He described the new agreement as “a landmark initiative”, stating that JAXA would initially target 10 World Heritage sites, providing quality imagery and data in support of conservation efforts.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 174-2008
  • 10-12-2008
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