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Legarda urges use of space science, technology for disaster mitigation

Space science and technologies should be used to improve the world's, including the Philippines, resilience against natural disasters and climate change, Antique Representative Loren Legarda said during a forum at the sidelines of the United Nations' climate conference in Madrid, Spain.

“We see the value of harnessing space science and technology, and its application in improving localized data needed for climate and disaster risk management,” Legarda said in a Saturday statement.

She also suggested the use of the first Filipino microsatellite, Diwata-1, and another microsatellite called Diwata-2, as well as a nanosatellite called Maya-1, for disaster mitigation efforts.

“With our very own satellites, we are now able to capture satellite data and target a particular location in our country, allowing us further to understand our vulnerabilities as a nation, especially in light of the intensifying effects of climate change," Legarda added.

According to Legarda, Diwata-1 was built to undertake scientific earth observation missions related to weather observation, environmental monitoring, and disaster risk management.

Meanwhile, Diwata-2 could capture satellite images to determine the extent of damage from disasters, monitor changes in vegetation, monitor natural and cultural heritage sites, and observe cloud patterns and disturbances.

“Our Diwatas and Maya in space provided the impetus for the enactment of the Philippine Space Act this year to ensure the continuous development of space science and technology in the country," she said.

However, Legarda also noted that the Philippine Space Agency was "still in its infancy stage" and was in need of support from established space agencies and institutions to carry out the country's initiatives.

The initiatives she mentioned included:

  • the Satellite-Based Monitoring and Assessment of Rehabilitation in Typhoon Affected Regions (SMARTER-VISAYAS) Initiative, and
  • the Geospatial Information Management and Analysis Project for Hazards and Risk Assessment (GeoRiskPH).

SMARTER-VISAYAS program was developed to acquire a "high resolution multispectral satellite imagery for rapid assessment of the damages and for continuous monitoring of the rehabilitation efforts in the typhoon hit areas."

Meanwhile, GeoRiskPH would "provide protocols and platforms to share hazards, exposure and risk information to help people, communities, local governments, and national agencies prepare and plan how to reduce the risks for natural hazards."

“As we look for innovative solutions, we must utilize the most recent advances in the use of space applications and information. We must strengthen international cooperation in this area, helping ensure that we bring the benefits of space technology to our most climate-vulnerable communities,” Legarda said.

Organized by the Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (OPRI-SPF) and Japan Aerospace, the "Ocean and Climate Contribution of the Space Technology" forum, was held at the sidelines of the 25th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. — Joahna Lei Casilao/DVM, GMA News