GMES and Africa Action Plan presented by BRAGMA during ESA Living Planet Symposium 2013, Edinburgh

The 2013 ESA Living Planet Symposium took place in Edinburgh from 09 - 13 September.

The Opening Plenary of this year's ESA Living Planet Symposium was moderated by the Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, David Parker, and featured interventions by the UK Minister of State for Universities and Science, the Honourable David Willetts, the Director General of ESA, Jean-Jacques Dordain, Volker Liebig, the ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Philippe Brunet, Director responsible for Aerospace, Maritime, Security and Defence, DG Enterprise and Industry, and Alan O'Neill, Chairman of the ESA Earth Science Advisory Committee.

There were almost 800 participants during the Opening Plenary, with about 1,900 registered participants expected to participate during the entire week.

Minister Willetts focused his speech on showcasing UK Space Priorities, while DG Dordain emphasised that most Earth Observation missions are driven by research perspectives. He credited the success of recent Earth Observation missions was due to strong industrial take-up of results.

Volker Liebig then drilled down to provide more detail about current and planned Earth Observation Programmes, and discussed some of the challenges presented by continued population growth and some of the opportunities presented by crowd sourcing and the high penetration of mobile phones, and particularly smart phones around the world. Volker discussed some of the drivers of what he called the first Earth Observation revolution before describing current satelite missions and the potential impact of planned first launches of Sentinel satellites during 2014.

Phillipe Brunet focused on the contribution of Copernicus to stimulate earth observation services and its potential contribution to socio-economic impact.

Finally, Alan O'Neill briefly discussed scientific results to date of the six existing Earth Explorer missions, and described the plans for the seventh mission selected earlier this year. This planned satellite, which is due for launch in 2020, will provide long-term monitoring of forests, provide measurements to determine the amount of biomass and carbon stored. This is essential to understanding the role of forests in Earth's carbon cycle and in climate change.

David Parker then thanked all the speakers for their participation and closed the Opening Plenary session.

Symposium participants then had nine parallel thematic paper tracks from which to choose. Poster sessions were organised on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening, with an open consultation process focused on ESA's New LP Programme Scientific Challenges taking place in paralle with the Poster Sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday evening. The programme was complemented by an exhibition, which showcased national and European level space activities.

Paul Cunningham, IIMC (Ireland) represented BRAGMA at the ESA Living Planet Symposium 2013, participating in Copernicus related thematic sessions and participating in the Poster Session on Tuesday 10 September, to present progress to date with the GMES and Africa Action Plan (GAAP). As well as presenting a Poster, Paul distributed a leaflet that provided an overview of the final endorsed thematic chapters on Marine and Coastal Areas, Water Resources Management and Long Term Management of Natural Resources.