GNSS participants at USP’s Laucala Campus.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) is hosting the week-long Applications of Global Navigation Satellite System workshop (GNSS) which began at the Laucala Campus on 24 June 2019.
Professor Pal Ahluwalia, USP Vice-Chancellor & President extended a warm welcome to the participants and acknowledged the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) in partnering with the University in organising this event.
A special welcome was also extended to the Chief Guest, Honourable Jone Usamate, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Disaster Management and Meteorological Services and Honourable Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Defence, Naitonal Security & Foreign Affairs.
Professor Ahluwalia commended the support of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) and noted that during the week, there would be very important issues discussed that will impact across so many disciplines.
He highlighted that participants will discuss different GNSS and its applications to transport and communications, aviation, surveying, mapping, management of natural resources, the environment and disasters, precision agriculture, high precision mobile applications, as well as space weather effects on GNSS and dual-frequency receivers.
These he said, are all areas of importance for the Pacific and at the University, “we are pleased to have many students and academics conducting research in these fields”.
In his keynote address, Hon Usamate noted that one of the issues consuming Fiji and the Pacific, apart from rugby, is climate change and sea level rise.
“This is the topic that consumes us, because for us, they are issues of life and death and for us today – not at some far off time in the future, but today, right now.”
He noted that given the impacts of climate change, Fiji like other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the region, is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, particularly cyclones, floods, earthquakes, tsunami and drought.
In 2016, for instance, Cyclone Winston caused damages amounting to nearly US$1 billion or 20 per cent of Fiji’s GDP and in this regard, the importance of natural disaster preparedness and response cannot be overstated.
Hon Usamate mentioned that the use of satellite imagery has become increasingly critical for effective disaster monitoring and response.
“GNSS is currently being used in a wide range of sectors including but not limited to: mapping and surveying, monitoring of environment, agriculture and natural resources management, disaster warning and emergency response, aviation, maritime and land transportation,” he noted.
“I am told that the main objective of the proposed workshop will be to reinforce the exchange of information between countries and scale up the capacities in the region pursuing the application of GNSS solutions.
“We have seen, and will continue to witness, the severe impacts of disasters, caused by climate change, on humanity, natural resources and infrastructure. Workshops such as this strengthen our collective pursuit and determination to address them” he said.
He hoped that not only will there be agreement on a mechanism(s), but that participants will leave this workshop with acquired commitments.
Nearly 100 participants from 28 countries in the Asia, African, European and Oceania regions are attending the workshop, which is aimed at addressing the use of GNSS for various applications that can provide sustainable social and economic benefits, in particular for developing countries.
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