NRF-SAASTA together with SANSA & DSI hosted a workshop at the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Ministerial Summit

16 November 2023

GEO Ministerial Summit 06 to 10 November 2023, Cape Town

NRF-SAASTA in partnership with SANSA and the DSI were requested by the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Ministerial Summit Local Organising Committee (LoC) to identify potential youth in the field of Earth Observation to prepare the first Youth GEO Declaration.

The journey started with a call that identified 10 youth members from various institutions such as HSRC, CSIR, SAEON, SANSA, SASOL, University of Limpopo, WITS and CPU. After an intense workshop during the month of October, the youth prepared the first Youth GEO Declaration that was presented at the GEO ministerial summit on 10 November 2023.

The summit aimed to improve the availability of Earth observation for sustainable development and sound environmental management.

Dr Thobeka Zondi, the nominated youth representative, in her opening remarks pointed out that the summit was a platform whereby the youth will raise their concerns and demands because they know what their challenges are and they also have solutions to those challenge.

“All the youth needed was to be given opportunity, to have a voice in the GEO secretariat engagements, and we are excited to be given the platform,” said Zondi.
On the fifth day of the summit the youth presented their declaration to the GEO members and emphasised the theme of the summit “The earth talks” in which they indicated that the “The Earth is no longer whispering but screaming!”

To tackle the challenges, the youth called on the GEO members to work together with them to explore the following solutions:

• To empower youth through exposure to the global EO network through improved access to resources and increased capacity building.
• To bridge the gap through stronger collaboration between academia, private and government organizations, including the establishment of partnerships, and joint research projects.
• To develop global, competitive, sustainable, and future-centric EO products that can be employed as decision support tools that inform policy making for adaptive and mitigative strategies in different scales and regions.
• To establish multilateral mechanisms to make high resolution data accessible.
• To catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship to facilitate the commercialization of solutions, ensuring sustainability in the EO sector while generating revenue capabilities.
• To effectively communicate science using less technical/scientific language and use social media platforms creatively to maximize the audience reached.
• To comprehensively include Indigenous Knowledge Systems.
• To provide financial investment.
• To develop systematic youth engagement platforms, such as communities of practice, leveraging existing youth networks within GEO.

The youth at the summit also called upon GEO and delegates to:

• Foster engagement among these diverse stakeholders, bringing together knowledge, expertise, and resources.
• Give youth a seat at the table through Youth Member State positions in GEO governance and committees.
• Develop targets and a costed implementation plan for the post-2025 strategy.

We hope that through working together with the youth, we will be able to foster sustainable development, informed decision-making, and a deeper understanding of our planet’s intricacies.

The youth at the summit were also treated to a tour of the SANSA National facilities in Hermanus (National Space Weather Forecasting Capability) and Grabouw (National Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AIT) Capability) cutesy of the NRF-SAASTA and SANSA.