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New centre opened in Thailand as part of China's Digital Belt and Road program

New centre opened in Thailand as part of China’s Digital Belt and Road program

The National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) together with Chinese
Academy of Sciences (CAS) has opened
an international centre as part of China's Digital Belt and Road (DBAR) program. The centre
promotes cooperation at the international level and manages risks associated
with climate change. 

DBAR ICoE-Bangkok is one of eight
such centres
around the world. The seven other centres are in Pakistan,
Italy, Morocco, Zambia, Finland, and Russia and the US.

NRCT Secretary-General Sirirurg Songsivilai, signed a
memorandum of understanding with Guo Huodong, Chairman of the DBAR program on 27
February 2018.

According to the agreement, the Digital Belt and Road
International Centre of Excellence Bangkok (DBAR ICoE-Bangkok) will promote
international cooperation and exchange of expertise and technology.

The Centre will focus on cooperation in the areas of climate
change, disaster risk reduction, environmental research, capacity building,
among others. Leveraging Earth observation (EO) and big Earth data from
satellites and other sources, the project can provide information for
decision-makers to refer to in the implementation of projects the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative.

The extensive geographical scope of the Belt and Road [1] Initiative calls for research and
monitoring capacity that can address a vast array of development issues and
support the design, development and implementation of diverse projects in these
areas.

This information can be applied to research, decision
making, project development and monitoring in seven primary areas:
environmental protection, disaster risk reduction, water resources management,
urban development, food security, coastal zone management and the conservation
of natural and cultural heritage.

DBAR ICoE-Bangkok is supported by the NRCT, the Asian
Institute of Technology, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development
Agency, and Ramkhamhaeng University. The involved agencies will gather and
integrate data on climate change, in order to reduce risks associated with
natural disasters and support research on sustainable development.

The DBAR program was established in 2016 by Chinese
scientists, in cooperation with experts from more than 20 countries and
international organizations to promote global sharing of expertise, knowledge,
technologies and data through EO and big Earth data from satellites and other
sources. It aims to address the discrepancy in the quality, volume and variety
of data being generated by different countries in the region and in their EO infrastructure
and EO data analysis capabilities.

This would play a critical role in mitigating threats to
fragile and shared ecosystems and countering other challenges arising from
large scale development.

The DBAR
Science Plan document
(pdf download)
states that DBAR is committed to implement projects and actions relevant to the
17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in
September 2015. It also strives to integrate green, low-carbon and sustainable
approaches to social and economic growth that are vital for the implementation
of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The DBAR Science Plan aims to link five levels of actions: 1)
Link multiple data streams into an integrated, distributed data repository; 2)
Design and development of an ICT infrastructure to support remote discovery,
access, processing analysis of EO data in a virtual (cloud) environment; 3)
Research on Earth System Science primarily based on EO data; 4) Interaction
within communities of scientific; and 5) professional stakeholders
Dissemination of SDG–relevant outcomes.

[1] China’s Belt and
Road Initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia
with Europe and Africa based on ancient land and maritime trade routes.