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Second UN ESCAP Ministerial Conference on Space Applications for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific

The Second Ministerial Conference on Space Applications for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific was organized by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) and hosted by the Department of Space, Government of India, in New Delhi during November 15-20, 1999. The conference was well attended with about 200 delegates including 20 ministers representing 27 countries and 11 UN, Inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. The objective of the Conference was to provide a forum for policy planners and decision makers to exchange perspectives and information, develop new policy scenario, prepare a blue print for regional space development, and to decide upon an action – driven and result oriented program towards implementation of the Regional Space Application Program for Sustainable Development (RESCAP).

While inaugurating the conference, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India said that nothing has contributed more to the shrinking of our world into a Global village than space technology. Hence, only through the widest possible cooperation we realize its vast potential gains. The high cost of space research makes it additionally imperative that the nations of the world pool their scientific, technological, and other forms of resources for common benefit. Particularly, countries of Asia and the Pacific share many challenges to sustainable development, especially in the areas of food security, water conservation, environmental protection, disaster management, education, water resources, and healthcare. Space technology can make our task easier to deal with these problems. He stressed on the need to harness the great potential of space technology to create large-scale employment in newer and more efficient areas of development and to increase community access to public health, family welfare, education, and other skill improvement programme, including improved agriculture practices.

The Second Ministerial Conference adopted the Delhi Declaration on Space Technology Applications in Asia and the Pacific for improved quality of life in the new millennium and launched the second phase of the Regional Space Applications Programme (RESAP) for sustainable development focussing on action oriented, result-driven program for optimizing human and financial resources in the region through vigorous cooperation in the areas of environmental and natural resource management, food security, capacity building, human resource development and education, poverty alleviation, weather forecasting, natural disaster reduction, health care and hygiene and sustainable development planning towards improvement in quality of life.

To coincide with the Ministerial Conference, a science symposium “Space Technology for Improving the Quality of Life in Developing Countries – A Perspective for the New Millennium was organized jointly by ISRO and UN ESCAP. About 190 delegates from 35 countries and 6 inter-governmental organizations participated in the symposium that covered topics on food security, environmental integrity, disaster management, education, rural development and health care and infrastructure for space applications. The symposium concluded that the emerging trends in earth observation, geographical information system, global positioning system, satellite communications and their applications, coupled with the developments in information technology should be oriented towards maximizing benefits to the society.

A technical exhibition, “Space 99”, organized by the Department of Space attracted over 1000 people.

The Second Ministerial Conference made a significant impact on the countries in the region in terms of showcasing the success stories of space technology applications and the potential for future space applications development. The conference provided a great opportunity for India to expose its own technological capabilities as well as the extensive application of space technology in the country that are playing a crucial role in various developmental tasks.