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International decision makers orbit Australia

8 November 2019

Representatives of more than 40 countries met at the GEO Week 2019 Ministerial Summit in Canberra today to discuss investment in digital technologies that maximise the value of Earth observation data.

Hosted by Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan, the summit follows a report commissioned by the Australian Government which estimates Earth and marine observation adds $29 billion in value to Australia’s economy. The report projects this could increase to $101 billion by 2030.

Minister Canavan said events such as the Ministerial Summit fostered international collaboration, which is key to Australia and other countries unlocking the economic potential of Earth observations.

“Discussions at the Ministerial Summit and at GEO Week over the past week will shape international collaboration on Earth observations for the next four years,” Minister Canavan said.

“The digital innovations that Australia is renowned for would not be possible without the Earth observation data we receive from partners such as NASA, the United States Geological Survey and the European Commission.

“An example of international collaboration is Digital Earth Africa, a product which will let African countries monitor and manage water resources using an Australian innovation that analyses up to 30 years of satellite data.

“DEA will be led by Geoscience Australia and established over three years, with a $10 million contribution from DFAT and another US$10 million from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“It will turn Australian knowledge into on-the-ground action across Africa, with new information on flooding, droughts, coastal erosion, agriculture and human settlement. This sort of information is invaluable when it comes to natural resource management and supporting sustainable development.”

“Hosting GEO Week has helped us establish new partnerships and agreements, strengthen engagement with our Pacific neighbours and focus international Earth and marine observation support on the Pacific.

“A focus for us in bringing GEO Week to Australia was to increase engagement with our region, in particular, our Pacific neighbours. Australia joined New Zealand and the United States in supporting a feasibility study for Earth and marine observing tools for the Pacific region,” he said.

“The Pacific Community will examine whether an operational platform like this is fit for the region, and develop a business case for consideration by Pacific island countries.”

Geoscience Australia also signed an MoU with Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography to build on existing collaboration, especially in remote sensing and open data-cube technology.

Minister Canavan said hosting GEO Week for the first time in the event’s 16-year history reflected Australia’s emerging leadership in the global Earth observation community.

“Establishing the Australian Space Agency in 2018 reflected the Government’s commitment to growing our space sector, and the importance of space technologies and applications, such as Earth observations, across our economy.”

As part of GEO Week 2019 the Australian Space Agency – with the support of the CSIRO – has developed ‘Industry Track’, a program designed to highlight the Earth observation capabilities of Australia’s industry and boost collaboration between Earth observation users and the public and commercial sectors.

GEO Week is held annually by the Group on Earth Observations, an intergovernmental partnership of 108 member governments and more than 130 global collaborators. A Ministerial Summit is held once every four years.

Media contact: Minister Canavan's office 02 6277 7180