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The Future Earth project takes centre stage at the ISPRS TC VIII Symposium

10 December, 2014 Hyderabad, India: The Future Earth project took centre stage at the ISPRS TC VIII Symposium today as the plenary session focused on the initiative of International Council for Scientific Unions (ICSU). Chaired by Dr Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, the Plenary was addressed by Prof Orhan Altan, 1st Vice President of ISPRS and Dr Chen Jun, President, ISPRS. Introducing ICSU, Dr Nayak said that the main agenda for the international NGO is to connect to scientists from different disciplines and geographies to strengthen international science for the benefit of society by undertaking solution-oriented projects. As per the present trends of resource utilization, Earth will not be able to provide resources for sustainable development and this is the major challenge to be addressed by the international comity of scientists. The recent project of ICSU, which will become fully operational by early 2015 is the Future Earth Project. This is a 10-year international research initiative that will develop the knowledge for responding effectively to the risks and opportunities of global environmental change and for supporting transformation towards global sustainability in the coming decades. Future Earth would mobilize thousands of scientists while strengthening partnerships with policy-makers and other stakeholders to provide sustainability options and solutions in the wake of Rio+20.

From Left to Right – Prof Orhan Altan, 1st Vice President, ISPRS; Dr.Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences and and Dr Chen Jun, President, ISPRS.

In his address, Prof Orhan Altan explained the role of ICSU and introduced some of the new upcoming projects, with a focus on Future Earth. He explained the role of ISPRS in ICSU as a core member of GeoUnions (GUs), which is a network of representatives dealing with Earth System studies and space sciences, including International Geographical Union (IGU), ISPRS, International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and others. He further elaborated upon to describe in some detail projects that started in the 1980s which have acted as the precursor for Future Earth Project, including WCRP, IGBP, Diversitas and IHDP programmes.

The next speaker, Prof Chen Jun made a presentation on supporting Future Earth with global geo-information, wherein he highlighted how human survival is facing a crisis in many forms. He explained how deliberations held at Rio+ 20, developed the Sustainable Development Goals and preparations were initiated for Post 2015 Development Agenda by the UN. In addition, he described how China has contributed to the Future Earth Programme by developing and making available the Global Land Cover map in 30 m resolution. The initiative of China is being utilised by almost 80 countries since its launch in September 2014 and is expected to grow manifold. Soon facilities like tagging, updating the map will be provided online, which will add greater value and relevance for users. He displayed some key statistical analysis that has already been made using the Global Land Cover Map. Despite some obvious challenges that this project faces, for example, devising fast and effective ways to refine, update and validate the data, there clearly seems a lot of potential opportunities for users, including providing services like big data analysis. He shared the future plans for the project include linking all global, national and regional land cover websites to provide one-stop service or to add a feature of historic land cover map etc.

Addressing issues of collaboration, Prof Chen Jun said China would like to work closely with agencies like UNGGIM, GEO and other data producers to add on to the data and also collaborate with agencies such as OSGEO, GEO BON, UNOOSA etc. to provide better platforms and services on this data and to work with UN and international NGOs for increased application of the data towards the sustainable Future Earth.

Source: Our Correspondent