Part I highlighted the environmental and climatic changes that we have witnessed on Earth over the 20+ years since the Rio Summit, noting the drivers and the impacts.
This section explores how Earth observation satellite programmes provide information in support of the development of information for managing our planet as the essential foundation for sustainable development policies.
Six different case studies are presented – each focusing on different dimensions of Earth and human society and showcasing the diverse contributions of satellite Earth observations – from informing scientific assessments over decades, to short-term operational forecasting of national energy demands in order to manage electricity supply more efficiently.
The case studies are:
− Global forest observations for carbon tracking: supporting the development of national forest information systems, and aiding the sustainable management of forest resources;
− Water management in support of water security: with water becoming an increasingly valuable resource and with its supply anticipated to become more erratic, improved management is becoming an important capability – and satellites can help governments in multiple ways;
− Disaster risk management: to address societal needs around the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters;
− Food security: many already see food insecurity as the single biggest threat facing humanity in the 21st century, and satellite observations are being applied to address food price volatility and improve forecasting capabilities;
− The changing cryosphere: measuring the loss of our disappearing glaciers and polar ice caps;
− Climate monitoring from space: explaining the crucial role of satellite observations and the institutional challenges ahead.
In each case, the issues affecting society and the consequences are discussed. The need for information and the role of Earth observation satellites is explained, including an indication of future plans and challenges.