The recently concluded Europe Africa High-Level Forum showcased instances of collaboration between Africa and Europe, amongst other things. The theme was “Space as an Enabler for Digital and Green Transitions, with Earth Observation Fostering Sustainable Development, New Skill and Job Creation.” Furthermore, it aimed at promoting European-African cooperation on advanced earth observation (EO), data processing systems, and their applications in a user-driven approach.
During the High-Level forum, one of the speakers, Alan Belward, began his presentation with the first satellite image taken by a European satellite in 1977.
This image emphasised Africa and Europe’s closeness. According to Alan, the closeness between both regions accentuated a long history of collaborations between the continents.
Alessandra Zampieri, head of the Disaster Risk Management Unit at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, revealed an ongoing Africa – Europe collaboration in Guinea-Bissau and Kenya to monitor urbanisation and population growth. The Joint Research Committee is the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. It employs scientists to research to provide independent scientific advice and support the European Union policy. According to her presentation on Earth Observation challenges regarding climate and disasters, a key thematic challenge was the fast population growth in urban areas in Africa. She remarked that the urbanisation rate in Africa was the fastest in the world.
Furthermore, she noted a correlation between precipitation decrease, temperature increase, and population increase in almost half of Africa’s urban regions. She further explained how population growth in exposed areas increased the risk of disaster. According to her, population growth rendered several African countries susceptible to floods, cyclones, tsunamis, etc.
Alessandra also noted that a drought monitoring service was being developed for East Africa. She said this while discussing The Copernicus Emergency Management Service. The Copernicus Emergency Management Service provides Earth Observation, model, and in-situ based disaster management information. In addition, the service provides on-demand detailed information for selected emergencies. These include emergencies that arise from natural or artificial disasters anywhere in the world. Alessandra noted that the service was freely and openly available to different global countries.
The Europe-Africa Space Earth Observation High-Level Forum was a hybrid event. It was organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal, with the support of the European Commission.