18.07.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector

Opening of the Category-2 Centre "International Centre on the use of Space Technologies for Cultural and Natural heritage"

© Cnes 2009 - Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image. The Ilulissat Icefjord monitored from space.

On 25 July 2011 the UNESCO space partner, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, opens an International Centre under the auspices of UNESCO1.The centre is showing the exhibition “Satellites and World Heritage Sites, Partners to Understand Climate Change” to celebrate the opening. This exhibition illustrates the use of Earth observation from space to assess the effects of climate change on famous World Heritage sites.

The new established International Centre under the auspices of UNESCO is being hosted by the Centre of Earth Observation and Digital Earth (CEODE). CEODE is an outstanding institution of the Chinese Academy of Sciences that has, under the same roof, activities related to satellite data reception, satellite date processing and the Digital Earth initiative. This International Centre, established in collaboration with UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector will bring to UNESCO all the expertise and know-how of CEODE with the aim of strengthening inter-sectorial cooperation.

Without question, the documentation, protection and presentation of heritage sites requires the support of science and technology, said Ms Gretchen Kalonji, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences. While UNESCO recognizes the tremendous efforts made  by the national authorities with respect to their heritage, at the same time, UNESCO also recognizes that the national authorities do not always have access to modern  scientific and technological tools that can significantly assist in the preservation of cultural and natural heritage.  This is exactly what the UNESCO activity on Space for Heritage does: bridging the gap between national authorities and space institutions internationally. The International Centre that we are opening today is one step more to strengthen the scientific and technical assistance that UNESCO can provide to its Member States.   

It is for us, at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and in particular the Centre for Earth Observation and Digital Earth, a great honour to host this International Centre, a Category-2 Centre, under the auspices of UNESCO, said Prof. Guo Huadong, Director-General of CEODE. We have a long history of successful cooperation with UNESCO in the area of Space for Heritage. Today we strengthen our continuous commitment to support UNESCO Space for Heritage activities through the establishment of a dedicated centre with its own human and financial resources. We consider that space technologies can significantly assist in the protection of our heritage that is common to all humankind

Initiated in 2001, the European Space Agency (ESA) and UNESCO’s Open Initiative on the use of space technologies to support World Heritage, as a call to all space agencies, space research institutions and space private sector, enters this year into a successful tenth anniversary.  One partner of this initiative is the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), who in 2005 signed a cooperation agreement with UNESCO through the Joint Research Laboratory of Remote Sensing for Archaeology. Since then UNESCO and CAS have implemented a large series of joint activities with the aim of bringing the benefits of space technologies to developing Member States of UNESCO.

The aim of the newly established International Centre is to provide technical assistance in the area of space technologies to requesting Member States of UNESCO, as applied to the monitoring, documentation, modelling and presentation of cultural and natural heritage sites. Capacity building is the main goal. Recognizing that national heritage authorities must dedicate all their efforts to protect their heritage sites, the provision of ready-to-use results derived from space technologies comes as an added bonus.   

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1The Institutes and Centres under the Auspices of UNESCO (Category 2) are not legally part of the Organization, but are associated with it through formal arrangements approved by the General Conference. They contribute to the achievement of UNESCO’s strategic programme objectives and sectoral or intersectoral programme priorities and themes.




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