Explained: what is the “Matosinhos Manifesto”, intended to accelerate the use of space in Europe?

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The Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) on Friday approved a manifesto aimed at accelerating the use of space in Europe “to address the urgent and unprecedented societal, economic and security challenges facing Europe and its citizens. faced “.

During the interim ministerial meeting held in Matosinhos, Portugal, the Council of Ministers unanimously adopted this resolution which sets out a vision for the continent in terms of maintaining and expanding its activities in the space.

Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education in the Portuguese government, said: “The large-scale nature and rapid pace of the climate crisis and other challenges means that no European nation will be able to cope effectively alone. Space has enormous untapped potential to help meet these challenges, and an acceleration in the development of European space capabilities is now urgently needed. “

A brief history of ESA

ESA is an intergovernmental organization created in 1975 with the aim of developing Europe’s space capabilities. The organization has 22 member states – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden , Switzerland and United Kingdom. Slovenia, Latvia and Lithuania are associate members.

ESA notes that between 1945-1950, after the end of World War II, when many European scientists left Western Europe to work in the United States and the Soviet Union, European scientists realized that they would be incapable of carrying out purely national projects and would be incapable of competing with the great superpowers.

Thus, a need to organize scientific effort has arisen. In 1958, two prominent members of the European scientific community recommended that European governments create a common organization for space research.

What resolution has now been adopted?

The resolution defines three “accelerators” to advance Europe’s space ambitions. The first of these accelerators is for ESA to start working towards “space for a green future”, so that people are better able to understand the current state of the planet and to develop scenarios and solutions. for a sustainable life on Earth. This is in line with the goals of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The second accelerator is called ‘Rapid and Resilient Crisis Response’, and it aims to help governments take decisive action on crises facing Europe, from floods to storms to forest fires.

In July, to the west Germany has experienced catastrophic flooding, which was caused by a severe storm and continuous rains that caused rivers and streams to swell and flood towns along the banks of the Ahr River in Germany. The floods have wreaked havoc in neighboring areas and caused damage to buildings, infrastructure, the environment and people’s property.

Before that, Germany witnessed extreme flooding in June 2013, which was one of the most severe large-scale floods seen in the country in almost six decades. Some other countries were also affected during this time, including Austria, Switzerland, Poland and Hungary, among others. Severe flooding was also observed in Germany in August 2002.

In Greece in August, thousands of people fled parts of the country due to raging uncontrolled forest fires.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported frequent weather events, such as heat waves, extreme precipitation and sea level rise. Some of these factors can influence the way forest fires unfold.

The third accelerator mentioned in the resolution is “Space Asset Protection”, the objective of which is to protect astronauts and ESA assets from interference caused by space debris and space weather.

Apart from this, the council recognized two ‘inspirers’ to strengthen European leadership in the fields of science, technological development and inspiration: a mission to return icy moon samples and the exploration of the ‘inhabited space.

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