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A newly launched Regional Centre for Capacity Development on Earth observation and data

Utsav Maden

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The three directors general – AIRCAS, ICIMOD, and NRSCC – launched the RCCD at a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, on 12 July 2021. (Photo: AIRCAS)

On 12 July 2021, at the 2021 international training workshop on Earth observation for sustainable development in developing countries in Beijing, China, AIRCAS, ICIMOD, and NRSCC  launched a Regional Centre for Capacity Development (RCCD) under the framework of Task Group 12 of Asia-Oceania Group on Earth Observations (AOGEO). This is the result of a cooperative agreement among the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIRCAS), Chinese Academy of Sciences; ICIMOD; and the National Remote Sensing Centre of China (NRSCC), Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China.

The RCCD will strengthen regional cooperation on capacity development and help young scientists and professionals from developing countries acquire a deeper understanding of Earth observation data and knowledge, especially on cross-domain scientific research. The centre will also support research and analysis on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the region, agriculture and food security, climate change, carbon neutrality, disaster risk reduction, ecosystems, and biodiversity under the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) framework.

The three directors general – from AIRCAS, ICIMOD, and NRSCC – signed the cooperative agreement and launched the RCCD amidst a special signing ceremony organized at the workshop.

Yirong Wu, Director General, AIRCAS, shared that the RCCD will provide standardized technical training and knowledge services in the field of Earth observation for countries in the Asia-Oceania (AO) region. He stated, “Under the guidance of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, the NRSCC, AIRCAS, and ICIMOD have decided to jointly establish the RCCD to further enhance the level of international exchanges and cooperation. The centre will enhance the ability of countries in the region to respond to global climate change and solve regional environmental problems.”

In his remarks, Qi’an Wang, Director General, NRSCC, acknowledged ICIMOD for its research and reputation in the field of Earth observation and shared that the RCCD is a novel attempt to further GEO’s concept in the region and provide continuous training on Earth observation. He added, “We hope that the centre can work to extend capacity-building activities to our region and benefit more countries in the larger AO region.”

As a participating member of GEO, ICIMOD has been actively involved in various GEO initiatives and has been leading the Himalayan GEO task group under AOGEO. ICIMOD, AIRCAS, and the NRSCC first collaborated to organize the AOGEO training workshop in 2018 and have been jointly organizing these trainings ahead of the AOGEO meetings every year.

Joining the launch programme virtually from Kathmandu, Nepal, ICIMOD’s Director General Pema Gyamtsho said, “Our collaboration with AIRCAS and the NRSCC in establishing the RCCD will strengthen our ongoing efforts of building human and institutional capacities for promoting Earth observation applications in the HKH region.”

The GEO Secretariat’s incoming Director Yana Gevorgyan, AOGEO Coordination Board Co-Chair Ando Kentaro, Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization’s Secretary General Qi Yu, and Food and Agriculture Organization’s Zhongxin Chen also joined the launch virtually and commended the initiative to establish a dedicated centre for capacity development in the region.

Basanta Raj Shrestha, Director of Strategic Cooperation, ICIMOD, provided a keynote speech on Earth observation for the Sustainable Development Goals at the programme. AIRCAS’s Xiang Zhou moderated the session on-site in Beijing while ICIMOD’s Birendra Bajracharya moderated the session online from Kathmandu.

Participants in signing ceremony
Participants join the signing ceremony on-site and online at the 2021 international training workshop on Earth observation for sustainable development in developing countries in Beijing, China. (Photo: AIRCAS)


The 2021 international training workshop on Earth observation for sustainable development in developing countries was organized on-site in Beijing for eligible participants from the AO region. More than 200 participants from 24 countries registered to join the training online. Resource persons from ICIMOD also led specific sections of the four-day training and joined the training synchronously from Kathmandu. The training was organized on the side of the 4th Asia-Oceania Group on Earth Observations (AOGEO) workshop. NRSCC and AOGEO hosted the training; the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (MOST) sponsored the training.



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