space exploration

EU, Philippines launch P610-M space cooperation program

James Patrick Cruz

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EU, Philippines launch P610-M space cooperation program

COPERNICUS. EU Director for Asia, Central Asia, Pacific and Middle East Peteris Ustubs, DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr., EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron, Philippine Space Agency Director General Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr., and European Space Agency's Benjamin Koetz join hands during the launch of Copernicus Capacity Support Action Programme for the Philippines on Monday, April 24, 2023.

European External Action Service

Satellite data from the EU will 'strengthen the nation’s resilience to disasters and climate change,' says DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr.

MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (EU) and the Philippines launched the first space cooperation program in Asia that seeks to harness data for environmental monitoring and disaster risk reduction. 

The P610-million Copernicus Capacity Support Action Programme for the Philippines (CopPhil), which was launched on Monday, April 24, will allow Filipino scientists to access the vast satellite data from EU.

With the Philippines as one of the countries most vulnerable to natural hazards and climate change, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. said the satellite data from the EU could help “strengthen the nation’s resilience to disasters and climate change.” 

“We want to make use of the data from EU Copernicus Observation satellites and ground-based data collection systems to support the Philippine government’s capacities for decision-making and monitoring of policy implementation based on timely and accurate data,” he said.

On average, 20 tropical cyclones hit the Philippines every year. The most disastrous of these have caused billions worth of damage to agriculture and have severely damaged communities.

Network of partners

Aside from helping in disaster response, the Philippine Space Agency said the satellite data from Copernicus will aid other government agencies in better decision-making. 

“We will bring this CopPhil programme and its output into the venue, not just to create awareness but traction across government agencies on the utilization of data and subsequently distributing this capacity not to be concentrated within PhilSA or the DOST but to be pervasive across the Philippine society,” PhilSA Director General Joel Marciano Jr. said. 

Prior to the launch of the program, Copernicus’ satellite images have already helped local authorities monitor calamities such as the aftermath of typhoon Odette and more recently the Oriental Mindoro oil spill.

The EU also shared its interest to expand partnerships with other countries in Southeast Asia.  

“In the long term the European Union is exploring the possibility to create a network of Copernicus partners in the ASEAN region aside from other parts of the world,” EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron said. 

Apart from data sharing, the three-year CopPhil program includes skills development and data infrastructure support. 

In 2021, Philippines and Japan inked an agreement to promote space cooperation between the two countries. – Rappler.com

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James Patrick Cruz

Patrick Cruz is a researcher and writer for Rappler’s governance cluster. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, he covered local governments focusing on Metro Manila.