Full text: Remote sensing for resources development and environmental management (Volume 3)

Symposium on Remote Sensing for Resources Development and Environmental Management/Enschede/August 1986 
© 1987Balkema, Rotterdam. ISBN 90 6191 674 7 
E.van Spiegel 
Director General for Science Policy of the Ministry of Education and Science 
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, 
It was with great pleasure that I accepted your in 
vitation to open this International Symposium on 
Remote Sensing. 
This is the seventh occasion on which Commission 
VII of the ISPRS has convened a symposium. The Com 
mission is concerned with the interpretation of re 
mote sensing data, work which is crucially important 
to the exploitation of this technology in the serv 
ice of science and society. It is in the interpreta 
tion of these data, drawing on knowledge from a 
range of disciplines, that they acquire their true 
signi fi cance. 
It is particularly gratifying that this symposium 
should be held in The Netherlands in the same year 
as the introduction of the National Remote Sensing 
Programme which was presented to Parliament on 7th 
March. This date marked the start of a programme 
designed to promote the development of operational 
and commercial applications of remote sensing. The 
Ministry of Transport and Public Works and the Di 
rectorate Science Policy of the Ministry of Edu 
cation and Science lobbied hard for the creation of 
the programme. Another speaker will be telling you 
more about that shortly. 
I should like to say a few words about the sig 
nificance of the international character of a sym 
posium such as this. The Government of The Nethei— 
lands is endeavouring to promote and strengthen in 
ternational cooperation in the field of research and 
development, so it very much appreciates the fact 
that this symposium is being held in The Nether 
lands, thanks to the joint efforts of the ITC, the 
International Institute for Aerospace Survey and 
Earth Sciences and The Netherlands’ Societies for 
Photogramme try and for Remote Sensing. 
This aspect of The Netherlands’ policy was empha 
sised recently by the newly re-elected Prime Minis 
ter, Mr. Lubbers, who said in his Statement of 
Government Policy that in many cases, The Nethei— 
lands has insufficient scope for conducting high- 
level research on its own. He then went on to men 
tion some of the options for the further intei— 
nationalisation of research in The Netherlands. The 
Prime-Minister did not actually refer to interna 
tional conferences as such. That is because The 
Netherlands is already well in the forefront when it 
comes to the more traditional forms of scientific 
cooperation, being a valued contributor to the in 
ternationally learned journals and a prominent par 
ticipant in conferences and international scientific 
Traditionally, cooperation has tended to mean 
scientists assessing eachother’s works and then pro 
ceeding to build on what they have learned. However, 
other forms of international cooperation have now 
been developed alongside them. These new forms fall 
into two main categories. 
The first is the joint use of major facilities 
which would be too expensive for any one country to 
afford on its own. I am thinking here of the CERN and 
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility but also of 
the facilities with a more operational character, 
like the worldwide network of meteorological satel 
lites. The second category revolves around the grow 
ing trend towards cooperation between research estab 
lishments in different countries and the joint devel 
opment of and participation in international research 
I should like to concentrate on the latter of these 
two categories, and more particularly, on the Euro 
pean angle. Although many of you come from outside 
Europe, as European cooperation flourishes in more 
and more areas of science, you will find increasingly 
that you are dealing with Europe as a single entity. 
In the recent past, the importance of that coopera 
tion lay chiefly in the sheer scale of some research 
facilities. CERN in Geneva, for example. Consider 
ations of scale are certainly appropriate to remote 
sensing: witness the worldwide network of satellites. 
In addition, strategic reasons for European coopera 
tion are becoming increasingly important. Europe must 
retain a research capability of sufficient scope and 
quality if it is to remain a major force in the world 
of science and technology. Only by cooperating with 
eachother can the countries of Europe hope to create 
research centres which will inspire and attract them 
to do pioneering work at the forefront of science, at 
the same time creating a demand among the world’s 
leading research establishments, especially those in 
America and Japan, for exchanges of personnel. This, 
in turn, would create the ideal climate for the 
training of a highly skilled workforce. I mentioned 
this because a high standard of training is clearly 
essential in a world where science and technology are 
growing in importance all the time. 
Europe can then offer an attractive alternative to 
the great powers for developing countries interested 
in the exchange or transfer of knowledge in fields 
like remote sensing. After all, the Third World is 
not interested in "second class" science, but wants 
access to leading-edge technology, be it that it has 
to be in a specially tailored form to suit local 
An international perspective is essential for a 
small country like The Netherlands. Regrettably, how 
ever, all is not what it should be in this respect. 
To illustrate that point, I should like to quote a 
recent report by the OECD on The Netherlands’ science 
and technology policy: 
’... one is struck by the contradiction between the 
world-oriented Dutch economy and the home-centered 
national R&D system. The large corporations are an 
exception. A country which exports and imports the 
equivalent of half of its gross national product is 
by necessity a part of the international economy and 
exchange system. 
This implies that international developments have 
to be taken into account more than in other coun 
tries which are less dependent on international 
trade. However, this does not seem to apply to the 
science and technology segment of The Netherlands’ 
society. R&D may suffer from the fact that it is 
inadequately international in its perspective’. 
A recent study conducted by the European Science

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