Web Summit: Space has the answer to climate change

The "Space for Sustainability" panel, moderated by the president of the Portuguese Space Agency, focused the discussion on the response to climate change through Space and Artificial Intelligence. Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education announced the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Portugal and Spain for the implementation of the Atlantic Constellation.

In a “complex moment for humanity”, facing the consequences of climate change, “Space and Artificial Intelligence may have answers” to this challenge. Innovation is the key word in this relationship – and there are business opportunities for those who present solutions for innovative ideas that have the sustainability of the planet in mind.

This is how the president of the Portuguese Space Agency, Ricardo Conde, introduced the “Space for Sustainability” debate, held last Thursday, November 3, at the Web Summit in Lisbon. The DeepTech stage of the technology summit hosted the panel, moderated by Ricardo Conde, which had as speakers the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, the head of the Phi-Lab of the European Space Agency (ESA), Pierre-Philippe Mathieu, and the vice president of Portugal Ventures, Teresa Fiúza.

In Elvira Fortunato’s words, the Portuguese space sector is experiencing “a new moment”. So much so that the Minister announced the signing “a Memorandum of Understanding between Portugal and Spain for the implementation of the Atlantic Constellation”, scheduled for the day after in Viana do Castelo. The constellation of small Earth observation satellites aims to become a platform for mutual collaboration for the multiple applications of land and maritime territory management and monitoring in its various dimensions — fire prevention, water management, spatial planning, forestry and biomass, carbon sequestration, and monitoring of traffic and maritime resources, all of which are pillars of sustainability.

This Memorandum of Understanding reflects the investment that has been made in the sector, “whose skills have been growing” through the participation of companies and research centers “in the most important space missions, mainly in the European context, in Earth Observation, navigation or telecommunications projects,” stressed Elvira Fortunato.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education also recalled that there is an increase in public investment in this area and that the Recovery and Resilience Plan will also reinforce this commitment. Elvira Fortunato also stressed that there is a strong commitment “with the new generation of students to promote the STEM areas [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics]”, in a reference to the budget reinforcement for Higher Education.

On the relationship between Space and sustainability, ESA’s Pierre-Philippe Mathieu pointed out that it is essential to “work with the data that space technologies make available.” “This information can be used by policy makers in a strategy towards sustainability, but it is also an opportunity for knowledge and for the emergence of new businesses. That is why we came [to the Web Summit]: to impact entrepreneurs,” he said. Teresa Fiúza, from Portugal Ventures, stressed that there are “several opportunities in space” for companies and that they must “be persistent” in the placement of their ideas and business plan, giving as successful examples the agreement between Portugal Ventures and ESA BIC and the company Spotlite, based in Coimbra.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Portugal Space
7 of November, 2022