Space in environmental diplomacy: Exploring the role of earth observing satellites for monitoring international environmental agreements
This research determines under what conditions, and for what types of environmental treaties, Earth observation (EO) is useful for monitoring international environmental agreements. The research extracts specific monitoring requirements from nine multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and explores how satellite EO data can be used to support them. The technical characteristics of the sensor systems and science data products associated with current and planned EO satellites were analyzed and mapped to the MEA requirements, providing a significant step toward linking the EO community with the international treaty community implementing these environmental agreements.
The research results include a listing and analysis of the positive and negative factors that influence whether EO data are useful for monitoring and verifying MEAs, analysis of existing international EO institutions, and a set of key findings describing the conditions under which EO data are most useful to the treaties. The use of EO data in various treaty phases is also analyzed, drawing the conclusion that EO data are most useful for monitoring and treaty refinement and not very useful for compliance verification or enforcement. MEAs manage compliance using governance structures that offer expertise and resources to assist states that are reported to be in non-compliance, rather than enforce compliance with sanctions or other punishments. In addition, the temporal and spatial resolution of the current and planned fleet of satellites does not provide the required detail needed for MEA verification. Identifying specific treaty implementation deficiencies requires additional information that cannot be gathered from EO data; on-site economic, social, and environmental conditions are critical elements in assessing compliance verification. But for environmental monitoring and assessments, MEA effectiveness reviews, and national reporting required for each MEA, EO data are very useful. They provide information that conveys environmental changes in a visually compelling way and adds a dimension of understanding that cannot be captured otherwise. In addition, EO data will continue to bring awareness to environmental problems that need international attention. As EO data become more prevalent, they will have significant impact on public awareness, which in turn will continue to catalyze international action on both national and international levels.
0616: International law
0616: International relations
0799: Remote sensing