From 2021 to 2027, the EU will strive to bring the space programme together with three other major initiatives to create a ‘Digital Twin Earth’, offering insight and foresight on our planet’s physical changes. European satellite data will assist countries with data on decarbonisation, biodiversity and protecting the oceans – precise data which is essential for political decision-making. But how exactly might institutions, the private sector and civil society benefit from the development of a Digital Twin Earth? And what could such developments mean for society more broadly?
This Café Crossfire debate is part of Friends of Europe’s work on digitalisation, which helps think through the implications of the digital revolution, bringing together a wide range of stakeholder and community perspectives and experiences to play a role in shaping policy thinking and developments. We work across policy areas, taking a whole society, whole economy approach to ensure that digital is a force for good and that citizens are empowered to navigate a digital 21st century.
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From 2021 to 2027, the EU will strive to bring the space programme together with three other major initiatives: the Digital Europe Programme, the Connecting Europe Facility, and Horizon Europe. If all goes well, this collaboration could enable the EU to create a ‘Digital Twin Earth’, offering insight and foresight on our planet’s physical changes. European satellite data will assist countries with data on decarbonisation, biodiversity and protecting the oceans – precise data which is essential for political decision-making. Boosting the future budget for work on space would enable the EU to build up its Earth observation capacity, adding value to Europe’s initiatives in climate action, development policy and security, and turning it into a global leader in space. And as a result of the increased data, analytics and foresight gained, the EU could expect to enjoy improved decision-making, especially for climate action. But to become a modern space power, Europe must also draw on the knowledge and agility of the private sector. Space could provide an opportunity for policy-driven growth, using the power of the EU to attract private capital and research funding in this strategic area.
- What could these new developments mean for society?
- How can institutions, the private sector and civil society benefit from the development of a Digital Twin Earth?
- How can companies combine Artificial Intelligence and big data collected from space to provide forecasting on the impact of climate change?
Director of Earth Observation Programmes at the European Space Agency (ESA)
Dionysia Theodora Avgerinopoulou
Member of the Hellenic Parliament, 2012 European Young Leader
Member of the Cabinet of European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovic
Director-General of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)
Director, Asia, Peace, Security & Defense, Digital & Chief spokesperson
Thirty years ago, Josef Aschbacher began his career at the European Space Agency (ESA) where he was seconded as the ESA Representative to Southeast Asia at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok. Later, he joined the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, Italy, where he served as Scientific Assistant to the Director of the Space Applications Institute. Upon his return to ESA headquarters in Paris, he was tasked with advancing Copernicus activities within ESA, going on to become Head of the Copernicus Space Office, where he led all activities for Copernicus within the Agency and with external partners, in particular the European Commission. Most recently, Aschbacher has been entrusted with planning ESA’s Earth Observation Programme, as well as formulating and implementing programmatic and strategic decisions across the Directorate.
Dionysia-Theodora is a Member of the Hellenic Parliament and Deputy Head of the Environmental Policy Sector in the New Democracy Party. She is a leader in environmental and humanitarian activities internationally and has been the recipient of several international awards, including the ‘Global Citizenship Award for Leadership in Assisting Humanity’ by Orphans International Worldwide, and the ‘Green Star’ Award by UNEP/OCHA/Green Cross International for her voluntary assistance in areas affected by natural disasters. She is Co-founder and President of the European Institute of Law, Science & Technology and an attorney who specialises in International and Environmental Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Previously serving as Senior Foresight Expert in the European Commission Joint Research Centre’s Competence Centre for Foresight, Laurent Bontoux plays a role in bringing future-oriented systemic thinking into EU policymaking, while striving to be as inclusive as possible and to apply participative approaches. Starting his career off as a food technology engineer and an environmental engineer, he went on to spend three years ensuring the environmental safety of household products at Procter & Gamble in Brussels. Since joining the European Commission in 1993, Bontoux has spent most of his career working at the nexus of science and policy on a wide range of issues, including health and environmental risk assessment, research, environmental technologies, sustainability issues and long-term thinking.
Florence Rabier is an internationally recognised expert in numerical weather prediction, whose leadership has greatly contributed to delivering major operational changes at both ECMWF and Météo-France. She is especially well known within the meteorological community for her key role in implementing an innovative data assimilation method (4D-Var) in 1997, which was a world first and contributed to an optimal use of satellite observations in weather forecasting. She also led an international experiment involving a major field campaign over Antarctica. Rabier has been awarded the title of ‘Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur’, one of the highest decorations in France.
Photo credit: C3S/ECMWF
Prior to joining Friends of Europe, Dharmendra Kanani was director of policy at the European Foundation Centre (EFC). He was the England director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK and fourth largest in the world. Dharmendra has held senior positions in the public and voluntary sector and advisor to numerous ministerial policy initiatives across the UK.
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