China, Europe Boost Earth Observation Efforts With New Agreement in Lisbon

The Dragon Program conference, a major China-Europe science collaboration, opened in Lisbon on Monday, marking the transition to Earth observation Dragon 6 and included a new agreement on climate change and big data.

Organized by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the European Space Agency (ESA), the five-day symposium attracted nearly 300 experts and scholars from China and Europe to discuss the achievements of Dragon 5, and introductions to Dragon 6 projects, focusing on the latest developments in Earth observation technology and the application of satellite remote sensing technology in environmental protection and disaster mitigation.

At the opening ceremony, China and Europe signed the cooperation agreement for Phase 6 of the Dragon Program, which spans from 2024 to 2028. This agreement covers ten key themes, including land, atmosphere, climate change and big data.

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Under the agreement, both sides will continue to promote the sharing and application of Earth observation data through collaborative research, academic exchanges, and talent training.

Starting in 2024, the China Science and Technology Exchange Center will take over the Chinese side’s management of the Dragon Program, working alongside ESA’s Earth Observation Department.

In his opening remarks, China’s ambassador to Portugal Zhao Bentang highlighted that the Dragon Program is a model of China-Europe scientific and technological cooperation.

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Zhao emphasized that both parties have contributed significantly to global scientific innovation and talent cultivation.

Gao Xiang, director general of the China Science and Technology Exchange Center, said the Dragon Program has seen continuous improvement in its cooperation mechanisms, expansion in funding scope, and enhancement in the level of cooperation and technical expertise over the past 20 years.

The program has broadened its research fields, data sources, and the number of participating scientists, contributing to the economic and social development of both sides, Gao noted.

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Josef Aschbacher, director-general of ESA, said the Dragon Program is one of the longest-standing and most fruitful cooperative projects between China and Europe.

He noted that the program has not only facilitated profound exchanges between scientists from both regions, but also promoted the application of technological achievements.

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