Summary of Proceedings
The International Workshop on Capacity Building in Asia on the theme ‘Earth Observations in the Service of Water Management’ was held at Ramagarden Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand from 26th to 28th September 2006. The workshop was co-hosted by the Integrated Global Water Cycle Observation (IGWCO), Group on Earth Observations (GEO), Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), University of Tokyo (UT), Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), United Nations University (UNU), United Nations Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM). Sponsors of the Workshop were JAXA, UT, and WMO.
The workshop was aimed at exchanging information on the best practices and available tools for applications of Earth observations for water resources management in the Asian region. It was specifically intended to consolidate regional requirements upon the existing infrastructure and to hold discussions to identify urgent needs in terms of the well-being of society and thereby to propose Regional Capacity Building Projects for applications of Earth observations for water resources management in Asia.
The workshop was originally planned by IGWCO as one of the regional capacity building workshops in South America, Asia, and Africa. The workshop was then endorsed by GEO as one of its 2006 Work Plan tasks: WA-06-06: Promote best practice in Earth observation application for Integrated water resource management in developing countries by supporting a series of workshop in South America, Asia, Africa and small island nations.
The workshop was attended by 121 participants from 22 countries. In order to assure high-quality, interactive participation, about half of the attendance at the workshop was by invitation and included policy makers, Earth observation providers, resource managers and top academia members mainly from 75 state sector organisations.
Proceedings of the workshop, which had occurred over three days was well split into 5 main Plenary Sessions excluding the Opening Session. Sessions 1, 2, and 3 were held on Day 1 and were devoted to Policy makers. Target groups for Session 4 and Session 5 which were held during Day 2 and Day 3 respectively were directed towards Earth Observation Providers and Water Resources Managers.
Referring to the Earth as a complex system of systems, GEO opened Session 1 and introduced it as a global, coordinated, comprehensive and sustained system of Earth observing systems. Accordingly, Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) was introduced as an objective of GEO. GEO’s adoption of a cross cutting approach to serve 9 societal benefit areas and 5 transverse areas were outlined. The Geo 2007-2009 work plan towards convergence and the user driven approach of GEO and GEOSS to answer society’s need for informed decision making were briefed. The need for a system which provides access to all Earth observation data in a standard interoperable format was then pointed out. Following this, Capacity Building as seen by GEO and its vision for Water was briefly discussed. Capacity Building programmes in relation to Water, under the 2006-2007 GEO work plan and proposals for Water in 2007-2009 was also outlined. In conclusion, noting its devotion to improve international cooperation on water management issues and Capacity Building, GEO indicated that the Asian country contribution is the key to the success of its plans and expected the output of the Bangkok workshop to facilitate in this effect.
IGWCO then followed by defining Capacity Building as ‘a process for enhancing the ability of regional, national, and local stakeholders to evaluate and address crucial questions related to policy issues and modes of implementation among different options for resource development and management’ making use of the typical GEOSS definition. Keeping with the previous presentation, while indicating that GEO places a priority on Capacity Building, it was stated that IGWCO supports that WSSD goal by helping to develop a global observing system of systems. Subsequently, based upon the inputs from participants at its meeting held in 2005, IGWCO presented the analysis of Capacity Building requirements and some obstacles in the implementation. Then, a water cycle GEOSS community of practice and their linkages were presented. Finally, while pointing out that the history of measurements has a strong links to society’s developments in water use, IGWCO mentioned its vision is to introduce a new epoch of water management in our lifetimes that is facilitated by observations.
In line with the above, the consensus of the 1st Asian Water Cycle Symposium held at UT, 2-4 November 2005 and under the vision of GEOSS was presented. Activities originated from the 1st symposium, particularly, the success story of the Asian Water Cycle Initiative and the Implementation Task Team’s (ITT) Working Session held on 25th September 2006 was reported while recognizing the significant progress rendered by ITT to date in developing the implementation plan for the Integrated River Basin Water Resource Management projects in the region and expecting their continued cooperation in the future. It was reported that Japan has announced the ODA “Water and Sanitation Broad Partnership Initiative (WASABI)” which supports promotion of IWRM and capacity building.
A discussion followed the talks on the Asian Water Cycle Initiative and some participants who do not have membership in ITT also showed their willingness to take part in the activities. UNU made a request to send the report on the activities to all groups enabling the interested to take part.
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Plenary Session 2
Session 2 of the workshop was utilised to inform the participants of the International and Regional Programmes on the Best Practices for Applications of Earth Observations for Water Management on Capacity Building. The Session comprised 8 presentations by Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) of Thailand, Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), JAXA, WMO, UN-ESCAP, UNU, AIT, and the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
GISTA began the Session by giving a briefing on its Earth observation satellite activities with special reference to the THailand Earth Observation System (THEOS) to be launched in Mid 2007 and the applications relating to the Water sector and their involvement in Capacity Building.
LAPAN as a data provider presented the applications of space-based observations for water-related disasters in Indonesia. It was shown that the available rainfall products are very useful to monitor potential floods and drought-related EI Nino. High spatial resolution of satellite remote sensing data were also shown to be very valuable in estimating the damages in tsunami hit areas.
JAXA, with the identification of nine societal benefit areas i.e. disasters, health, energy, climate, water, weather, ecosystems, agriculture, and biodiversity, discussed their present and future missions including those for GEOSS, which are TRMM, GPM, AMSR, AMSR-E, GCOM-W, GCOM-C, ALOS, GOSAT and EarthCARE. Activities focusing on water issues such as International Flood Network (IFNet)/Global Flood Alert System (GFAS), Sentinel Asia and its Flood WG were also presented. Finally, JAXA’s involvement in object oriented Capacity Building Projects was highlighted.
WMO conveyed that it has a number of platforms to support the capacity building activities in Asia e.g. the WHYCOS programme, Flood Management and Disaster Prevention. It was also pointed out that WMO offers its capabilities for the development of initiatives that support the goals of GEO and IGWCO in the water sector.
UNESCAP drew the attention of the participants on priority challenges in the Water Resources activities in Asia-Pacific and disclosed the regional findings on disasters. UNESCAP also shared their recent experience and developments in valuing the cost of disasters and presented the UNESCAP Template of Assessment.
UNU commenced with an introduction to its Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) programme which focuses on the interactions between human activities and natural environment and their implications for sustainable development. Three sample activities, 1. Rainfall Forecasting System, 2. Flood Forecasting Modelling System, and 3. Graduate Student Program, which comes under the scope of the above programme were then presented in some detail.
AIT, in addition to its routine academic programmes in the field of RS and GIS, highlighted the Capacity Building programmes conducted by its centre for research and training, the Geoinformatics Center, in collaboration with JAXA and Keio University. Object-oriented, real-world, Mini Project based training and Caravan Training carried out in different localities targeting a larger audience were only two of the several programmes which were presented to the participants in detail.
MRC, at the closure of Session 2, briefed the status of the current short term forecasts (1-5 days) and the intended future medium term forecasts (6-15 days). Flood forecast accuracy with respect to forecast lead time was also discussed. Finally, the Commission sought the cooperation of data providers to improve the weather forecast in the region.
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Plenary Session 3
As an extension to Session 2, Session 3 included presentations on National Programmes adopted for Applications of Earth Observations for Water Management and Capacity Building. It was recognized that there are significant ongoing activities for the Integrated Water Resource Management and application of satellite data in many countries in the region. However, from the presentations on activities carried out in 16 countries in the region, several issues pertaining to each country were conveyed. Table 01 summarises the information retaining the order of the presentations.
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Session 4 of the workshop was devoted to transfer information on available data, tools, and opportunities that could be utilised in the service of water management.
Opening Session 4 of the workshop, ICHARM, the International Center for Water Hazard And Risk Management, presented two of its research activities on global rainfall estimation utilising satellite data and development of an Integrated Flood Analysis System (IFAS) for poorly-gauged stations. Opportunity to seek training on Flood Hazard Mapping at ICHARM was also related.
MAHASRI, the Monsoon Asian Hydro Atmosphere Scientific Research and Prediction Initiative, was then introduced as an initiative to establish a hydrometeorological system, particularly up to a seasonal time scale. Having identified that scale-interactions among diurnal, synoptic, intraseasonal and seasonal variability of the Asian monsoon, as one of the key issues in the above establishment, typical diurnal, intraseasonal, and seasonal variations were discussed and a simulation of a diurnal variation of precipitation using a cloud resolving model was presented.
PUB, Predictions in Ungauged Basins, was introduced as an IAHS initiative for decade 2003-2012. Accordingly it related its commitment to the reduction of the predictive uncertainty in hydrological science and practice mainly through channels of knowledge sharing and technology transfer. While introducing the 17 Working Groups as the main engines of PUB activities, it welcomed new Working Groups and referred to its website http://www.pub.iwmi.org to seek further details and access PUB publications.
JEPP, the Japanese EOS Promotion Program, highlighted its Asian Monsoon and Climate Variability theme comprising a number of water related programmes. Under the above theme, the Development of Rainfall Observation System in Southeast Asia was engaged for further discussion. During subsequent discussions JEPP’s assistance towards the establishment of 15 Tsunami Early Warning Support projects and its support for Public Awareness programs was also unveiled.
CliC, Climate and Cryosphere, set with a goal to access and quantify the impacts that climatic variability have on the components of the cryosphere and the consequences of these impacts for the climate system, and to determine the stability of the cryosphere, enlisted 4 project areas under its implementation strategy.
CEOP, Coordinated Enhanced Observing Period, which is as an element of WCRP presented its three unique capabilities; Convergence of Observations, Interoperability Arrangement, and Data Management. CEOP provides researchers and users access to in-situ data, satellite data and model output data from 35 reference sites around the world. The CEOP system also provides also very useful tools for QD, data analysis and visualization. Answering a query on the possibility of transferring the QC software, CEOP stated that since the technology involved is of a proprietary nature, technology transfer at this stage would be difficult.
MAIRS, Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study program subsequent to the identification of environmental changes in the Asian monsoon, introduced 4 priority research themes: Coastal Zones, Mountain Zones, Semi Arid Zones, Urban Zones. During the discussion that followed the presentation, it was pointed out, however, that to address real world needs research on the above themes should be mixed appropriately to give real world themes, for instance, tropical mixed coastal and urban zones.
Introducing India as one among the six nations involved in space programmes, the ISRO Space Application Centre presented its capabilities on communication, search and rescue services, meteorology imaging, disaster warning systems, and data collection platforms. The top-down and bottom up approaches adopted in EO application was also discussed.
Sentinel Asia, the voluntary initiatives for establishing a Disaster Management Support System in the Asia Pacific Region listed out its main activities which are to commence from October 2006 as follows; Emergency observation in the case of major disasters by ALOS, Wildfire monitoring by MODIS, Flood Monitoring by TRMM and AMSR-E, and capacity building to utilize satellite images for disaster management.
ITC, the international institute for geo-observation science and earth observation, presented the strategies to address diversified needs in Capacity Building in geo-information handling. Short courses, distance education, joint courses etc were introduced as adaptations of ITC in this regard. During subsequent discussions, on behalf of JAXA the Bangkok representative presented JAXA’s collaborations with AIT, Tsukuba University of Japan, and the Malaysian University in distance education.
As the closing presentation of Session 4, EWBMS, the Energy and Water Balance Monitoring System, a private company of the Netherlands, presented its capabilities in monitoring and validation of rainfall and energy balance, and flow and flood forecasting. Determination of evapotranspiration using energy balance processing and mapping of relative evapotranspiration were discussed.
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When the participants reassembled after Session 4, they were convened into three Working Groups in order to assess and identify the urgent needs with regards to Flooding, Drought, and Water Quality and to propose the regional application projects which would contribute to the GEOSS Water Management SBA. Discussions on the said topics were held in parallel.
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Plenary Session 5 was devoted to the presentations of the Reports from these three Working Groups. The reports are attached below in the order they were given ; Drought, Water Quality and Ground Water, and Flooding.
During subsequent discussions, it was pointed out that the works related to drought prediction and forecasting is still in its infancy giving difficulties in forecasts with the present technology. However, early warning can be achieved using advanced algorithms. Under the circumstances, awareness programs to prepare the possible victims to combat drought was considered as a crucial activity that needs implementation. The WG recommended to organize interactive workshops, identify priority areas and take up pilot projects in respective regions. The need to identify data, systems, and services available in the region for drought monitoring and prediction was suggested by a participant. It was also recommended for the WG to develop concrete steps for the near future.
The Working Group on Water Quality and Ground Water drew the attention of all, indicating that the Water Quality is the most neglected yet a critical issue in some countries in the region. Taking Bangladesh as an example, it was disclosed that on the contrary to the statement made by the UN World Report i.e. more than 90% of the people of Bangladesh have access to drinking water of acceptable quality, about 50% of the people of Bangladesh are consuming arsenic contaminated water of which the quality is well below the stipulated international standards. Hence, the Working Group emphasized that the issues of water quality should be taken up as a matter of priority. The Working Group decided to make a proposal on an Asian Water Quality initiative for a task to GEO and subsequent proposal on demonstration project. The participants welcomed the WG’s very concrete proposal. Participants also indicated that water quality of watershed and coastal zone could effectively be monitored by satellites.
In continuation of the discussion on Water Quality issues, one of the participants from India highlighting that water is an important medium for the transport of toxins, viral and bacterial diseases, etc emphasized the need to understand the effect of water quality on human health. Further, he noted the possible changes in the global environment due to anthropogenic and natural factors and stated that there is a need also to enhance the capabilities of predicting the potential harm they cause to the aquatic environment for appropriate management of the system (See WG Report on Floods for details)
With reference to the Working Group Report on Floods, a case of the Global Flood Alert System was presented. In most parts of Asia, flood forecasting, warning and response systems are yet to be established and the most important issue in Asia is to expand the network of flood forecasting and warning systems. Increasing usefulness of satellite information, particularly of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) for flood forecasting and warning system was emphasized. It was suggested that an inventory of existing information services be prepared for the region and ICHARM would take a role in the investigation with cooperation with the group members. It was also proposed to develop demonstration projects in conjunction with the framework of AWCI, Sentinel Asia, etc. The representative of EWBMS, remarked that the acquisition of data from the existing geostationary satellites in flood disaster mitigation measures needs mention.
The ISRO representative followed with a discussion on the establishment of a compensation distribution in the event of a flood, to aid the victims to make a reasonable living notwithstanding the loss of property.
Another participant from India, while stressing the importance of ‘Public Education’ of the whole process, forwarded his perspective that the same could effectively be carried out through university channels than the others. On this basis, he suggested that a university network be formed for this purpose and requested JAXA’s support in this effort.
One of the participants from Indonesia was of the following opinion; Earth observation data produced by satellites are so many and the available thematic data could, to a certain extent, complete the necessity of such associated with water resources management. So far the utilization of these data is still very limited and there exists a large gap between the products of EO and the utilization of the same for water resources management in planning/operational stages. This gap lies on the ability which is lacking to transform the data into “user friendly” information for decision makers. Therefore, besides providing the data, it is also important to provide coupled interface facility to transform the data into useful (and easily operable) information for effective use by various operating levels.
Based on the working group reports and subsequent discussions, the following points were identified.
1. Observational data that is necessary to address the associated issues are lacking and even the available data are sometimes inaccessible and not interoperable. A systematic observation should be undertaken of at least the sensitive and fragile systems is considered essential. It was suggested that a data inventory which would rectify the present anomaly shall be made available at a central location under the purview of either GEO or some other organisation giving easy access to stakeholders. In this context, it was also suggested that real time data required for flood forecasting and early warning, in particular, be made available, preferably, free of charge and easily accessible.
2. Utilisation of Remote Sensing/Satellite data alone would not satisfy the requirements in solving the related issues and hence the integration between remote sensing and the conventional in-situ data need to be streamlined. For instance, in the case of drought monitoring in-situ measurements on terrain variables should complement remote sensing data. Not only the data but also the water related issues in some aspects need to be solved by taking an integral approach.
3. Public education and awareness programmes need strengthening in order to make the high profile efforts more meaningful. Which channel in this respect, government or academic, could play a more effective role was subject to much debate. However, it was agreed upon that national efforts complimented by international support shall be the path way.
4. Earth Observation Providers/Space Agencies shall prioritise their action plan in such a manner to cater to the urgent needs of the society which would eliminate the associated risk.
5. In order to utilise the emerging Earth observation data and associated techniques from different sources, Capacity Building programmes in different modules and at different stakeholder levels shall be devised and implemented.
JAXA reported as workshop secretariat and the workshop report will be made to the CEOS Plenary, IGOS-P meeting and GEO-III in November. It will be also reported to the 2nd Asia Water Cycle Symposium and GEOSS Asia and Pacific Outreach Symposium in January 2007.
The participants agreed on the need for regular Capacity Building workshops in order to address the above needs in the region. With such a request, JAXA took action to consider planning the 2nd workshop.
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The chair adjourned the workshop by thanking all the participants for their valuable contributions, the hosts without the generous contributions of whom the Workshop would not have been possible, and the unstinting support of all who worked behind the scene to make the Workshop a success.
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