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Success Stories

EU-Caribbean Space Cooperation: a symbiotic relationship with an increasing added value

3 May 2024

The collaborative spirit of the space sector shone brightly on the Caribbean Island of Bonaire, where on 4 and 5 April a 2-day Global Action on Space event focused on space cooperation between the European Union and Latin America & the Caribbean took centre stage in the public life of the island.

The event brought together EU officials, local authorities, representatives of the Dutch government as well as scientists and space entrepreneurs from Europe and the Caribbean Islands. The presence of such a diverse speakers’ line-up, touching on many fields of expertise and professional experiences, provided a unique opportunity to explore the topic from different viewpoints. 

Distinguished speakers included Ambassador Rene Van Nes, head of the EU Delegation to Guyana for Suriname and with responsibility or Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St Barthelemy, St Eustatius and St Maarten, Jolanda Van Eijndthoven, Head of Unit responsible for Space Data Economy and International Cooperation who represented the Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space (DG DEFIS), Mr. Edison Rijna, Special Envoy for the Caribbean Netherlands for EU and UN and Economic Development with Latin America and Caribbean, Jim Bos, Project Manager of the Galileo Sensor Station and Itiziar Alonso, representative of the European Space Agency and Project Manager of the CopernicusLAC Centre in Panama.

 

The EU Space Programme for the Caribbeans, and the Caribbeans for the EU Space Programme

The event “Fostering Innovation and Cooperation in Space between the EU and LAC” was marked by the participation of a vast and multigenerational audience, who enriched both days with their active participation.    

The event provided an excellent platform to understand how and why the EU Space Programme and its flagship components Copernicus, EGNOS and Galileo bring an incredible added value to Bonaire and the Caribbean at large, both as catalysts for growth and as assets to fight climate change; on the other hand, participants were able to acquire first-hand information on the importance that the Galileo Sensor Station, now under construction on Bonaire, has for EU space capabilities. 

 

Delving into the topics of the event and into pragmatic EU Space-driven solutions

The European Union’s Global Gateway Strategy has kick-started  a new era of partnerships with partners, globally. As far as the Latin America & the Caribbean region is concerned, the EU-LAC Digital Alliance is the new framework for partnerships on digital and space matters. This new context gave the audience elements to better understand the full potential for increased cooperation on space between the EU, the Caribbean and in particular Bonaire. It is within this context that engaging presentations and discussions unfolded during the event, with a focus on emergency response, air and maritime transport and environmental protection.

Starting with Copernicus,the EU’s Earth Observation system, presentations focused on its Marine and Emergency Management Services, which hold great value in the context of the Caribbean region counting hundreds of islands, islets, reefs and cays extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Copernicus Emergency Management Service has been helping governments and emergency response agencies around the world with a series of products and services such as a flood awareness system, a drought observatory, on-demand mapping and analytical reports. As mentioned more extensively in our previous article, the Copernicus Marine Service features the right infrastructure and products to monitor the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a large masse of Sargassum algae afflicting the Caribbean Sea. 

Galileo was also at the centre of discussions. The EU's Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) is upgraded on a regular basis with new technologies and advanced infrastructure, solidifying its status as the world's most accurate system of its kind. One notable development is the construction of a Galileo Sensor Station on Bonaire, which will soon integrate into the extensive global network of Galileo ground stations. This network makes possible the ultra-precise positioning and navigation capabilities that Galileo provides to millions of users worldwide.

Galileo features a vast suite of high-end and reliable services. The Return Link Service (RLS), for instance, is a worldwide free-of-charge service that notifies people in danger when their distress signal has been received by emergency personnel. The acknowledgement messages are provided only about 30 seconds after the request reaches the Galileo system. 

The portfolio of life-saving services of Galileo will soon be expanded with the upcoming Galileo Emergency Warning Satellite Service (EWSS), which will support civil protection authorities by alerting citizens in case of natural or manmade disasters, even when traditional alert systems are compromised. Experts also presented EGNOS, the European Satellite-Base Augmentation System, which plays a key role in enhancing GPS signals and making flights and airports safer. 

Presentations by key experts were complemented by pragmatic demonstrations addressing the specific needs of Caribbean communities by European space companies, selected through the Global Action’s Business Coaching Service, that make use of Copernicus, EGNOS or Galileo to develop innovative products. 

 

Available now: podcast episode on EU-Caribbean Space cooperation & new market report

The strategic importance of Copernicus, EGNOS and Galileo for the Caribbean islands was further explored in the second podcast episode of our series “Down to Space” by two speakers, Mrs Jolanda Van Eijndthoven, Head of Unit for ”Space Data Economy and International Cooperation” at the Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space of the European Commission and Mr Edison Rijna, Special Envoy for the Caribbean Netherlands for EU funds, UN funds and economic relations with Latin America. The episode is now available on several platforms. 


Furthermore, all this information can be complemented through the upcoming Global Action market report on Latin America & the Caribbean region, which portrays new insights to companies seeking new markets using EU space services in this region of the world. 

Stay tuned!

 

→ Watch the recordings of the event here (Day 1) and here (Day 2)

→ Read more about the EU-LAC Digital Alliance

→ Read more about the Global Gateway strategy for the LAC region

→ Explore our global market report for the Latin America & Caribbean (LAC) region

→ Explore the Six Copernicus services

Take a peek at the best pictures of the event below: