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Remote sensing for resources development and environmental management
Damen, M. C. J.

Foundation into the international mobility of re
searchers from various European countries points to
the same phenomenon. It appears that Dutch research
ers score low in terms of scientific works done
abroad and collaboration with their foreign counter
parts. So you can see that The Netherlands had a
good reason to roll up its sleeves a few years ago
and set about changing the situation. In the words
of the Prime-Minister:
’A prerequisite for the further internationalisa
tion of The Netherlands’ research effort is that the
country’s research facilities should be made acces
sible to international research forums and that re
searchers from The Netherlands should make greater
use of facilities abroad. We must also intensify our
efforts in the field of bilateral cooperation with
other countries in the form of research projects and
programmes, and we must have a clearly-defined pol
icy for participation in EG programmes such as
European countries as a whole also have an impor
tant task. It is to ensure that Europe, which forms
the largest economic block in the world, greater
even than North America, has research teams of the
same stature as those elsewhere in the world, both
individually and collectively. That can only be
achieved if the researchers themselves actively en
courage collaboration between the various research
establishments and promote the development of the
joint programmes. It will also require the help of
national governments in creating the right condi
tions, for example, ensuring that the research es
tablishments obtain the equipment they need; provid
ing sufficient funds to maintain international con
tacts; and coordinating national and European re
search programmes.
I should like to mention CERN, the European Organ
isation for Nuclear Research and ESA, the European
Space Agency, as two examples of European success
stories in the field of scientific cooperation.
Although both of these projects were set up for
reasons of economy of scale, they nevertheless dis
play the beneficial effects on quality to which I
referred when I discussed the strategic need for
cooperation. These projects both deserve credit on
three major counts.
Firstly, they represent scientific institutions of
a world calibre. Secondly, they have set Europe new
standards of research in high-energy physics and
astronomical and astrophysical research. Thirdly,
projects such as CERN and the ESA have produced work
of such quality that they are attracting researchers
from outside Europe.
Earth observation is no respecter of borders, so
it is hardly surprising that there is already con
siderable international cooperation in the field of
remote sensing. But this cooperation is simply not
in the same league as the forms of cooperation to
which I have just referred.
The European Space Agency may as well be able to
fill this gap in Europe if the same kind of approach
is chosen as for the astronomical programme - the
traditional area of cooperation within the ESA. The
same applies to the JRS, which is based in Ispra in
Italy, but it seems to me that that will require
some fundamental changes of policy: in particular,
the JRC will have to be involved more fully in na
tional research programmes.
Finally, Earsel could also acquire such a role,
although I believe that this will require a con
siderable improvement in the framework of coopera
Our ultimate goal should be worldwide cooperation,
such as already exists in meteorology.
Accordingly, The Netherlands ’ Remote Sensing Pro
gramme actively seeks to further international coop
eration. How could it be otherwise, indeed, when one
considers how firmly the ITC’s international perspec
tive is anchored in its charter.
I believe that the time has come for earth observa
tion to move into the sphere of genuine strategic
cooperation. The new generation of earth observation
satellites will soon be providing us with vast quan
tities of information. It is essential that the coun
tries of the world pool their resources and collabor
ate in the collection, transfer, processing and
storage of this information.
I am confident that you will rise to this chal
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish you a fruitful symposium, one in which you
will be able to sow the seeds of new ideas and new
forms of cooperation.
It is my pleasure to declare this symposium open.
Thank you.