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A high-level workshop on “Satellite-based Services for Disaster Risk Management” took place on 17th May 2023 in Nicosia under the auspices of Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Philippos Hadjizacharias. The event was co-organised by the Department of Electronic Communications of the Ministry of Research, with the European Union Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA) and the international organization Eurisy.

The workshop aimed to highlight the potential of satellite applications in the field of disaster risk management. It is the first time that a high-level meeting is organised in Cyprus on this subject, with the participation of the Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Executive Director of EUSPA Rodrigo da Costa as well as President of the international organization Eurisy, Dominique Tilmans.

The event was attended online by people from twelve different countries, such as the USA, Israel, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Bulgaria, Algeria and Nepal, while more than 100 scientists, academics and researchers and heads of institutions of policy making as well as representatives of the wider Cyprus space ecosystem, participated in Nicosia. Delegates had the opportunity to share views and experiences and to discuss ways of using satellite technologies in the management of emergency situations arising from natural disasters, focusing on the further exploitation of the European Copernicus, Galileo and GOVSATCOM programs.

In his speech, that was read on by Director of the Department of Electronic Communications, George Komodromos, the Deputy Minister of Research, stressed that investing in Space means investing in the future and noted that space economy is one of the fastest growing sectors. “In this new reality, Cyprus, although small in size, aims to be part of the space revolution, scaling up activities, advancing shared goals and paving the way for a sustainable and resilient future,” he said. Major developments in satellite infrastructure in Cyprus also include a receiving earth station, part of the Search and Rescue service of the EU Galileo System, for detecting and locating emergency beacons. “It is worth mentioning that Cyprus is one of the only three hosting countries of such infrastructure in Europe”, he pointed out.

As pointed out by the General Director Dr. Himonas in his speech, which was read on his behalf by the Director of the Department of Electronic Communications, Mr. Giorgos Komodromos, "the utilization of space technologies is a high priority for Cyprus, as these technologies are of vital importance for economic development, social well-being and cohesion, the protection of the environment, the enhancement of public safety as well as the promotion of excellence in science, research and innovation”. He then added that "a strategic pursuit of Cyprus is to diversify the economy in order to reduce our dependence on traditional sectors, such as tourism, agriculture and shipping. The development and use of space technologies can have a catalytic contribution to the achievement of this strategic goal".

EUSPA Executive Director Rodrigo da Costa said that “the EU Space Program continues to provide tangible benefits to the citizens of the EU and the world” and expressed his satisfaction that Cyprus embraces its use and supports its evolution. For its part, EUSPA, he said, "will continue to put users at the heart of the EU's space programme".

President of Eurisy Dominique Tilmans, said that the EU Civil Protection Mechanism is based on satellite mapping from the European Copernicus Programme, which provides timely and accurate geospatial information for planning disaster relief operations throughout Europe and abroad. She pointed out that the need to deal with natural disasters has increased and that in the last two years alone, the activation of the Civil Protection Mechanism of the Union has been requested 320 times, both inside and outside Europe. These numbers, she said, demonstrate that a cooperative mechanism is necessary to support EU member states and beyond, in order to increase Europe's resilience against disasters, especially natural ones. She added that, in collaboration with EUSPA, they are promoting, with conferences like today's, information on the possibilities provided by satellite technologies.

Meanwhile, a search and rescue exercise was conducted at sea using space technologies and services of the EU space programs Galileo and Copernicus under the coordination of the Search and Rescue Coordination Center in Larnaca. The exercise was conducted within the framework of the Multinational Civil-Military Cooperation Exercise “ARGONAUTIS – 2023” with the participation of a large number of government services as well as human resources and aeronautical means of foreign countries.

The exercise was attended by, among other official and state officials, the Executive Director of EUSPA, Mr. Rodrigo da Costa, the President of the International Organization Eurisy, Ms. Dominique Tillmans, the Deputy Minister of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Mr. Filippos Hatjizacharias and the Minister of Defence, Mr. Michalis Giorgallas, accompanied by the Director of the Department of Electronic Communications, Mr. George Komodromos.

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