The Conference was organized by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), the Government of Morocco, and the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW) to promote the use of space technology for the benefit of the developing countries.
The Conference was hosted by the Royal Center for Remote Sensing (CRTS) on behalf of the Government of Morocco and co-sponsored by European Space Agency (ESA), the Inter-Islamic Network on Space Sciences and Technology (ISNET), and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).
In his opening address, Abdul Latif Odaa, Morocco’s Minister in charge of the management of National Defense, stressed the importance of water resources for the developing world, its role in ensuring food security, public health, a balanced ecosystem, and biodiversity.
The Minister highlighted that Morocco, has long been conscious of the importance of water resources management and developing the nation’s water infrastructure, which has enabled Morocco to ensure its needs of water without significant difficulties. To enhance these gains and meet the challenges of water scarcity, the minister added, Morocco has adopted of a national strategy for water under the leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. He also noted that water management depends, to a large extent, on useful quality information and highlighted that space technology, especially the accurate data received from Earth observation programs, have become indispensable for development projects.
The keynote address was given by Professor Mohammed Aitkadi, President of Morocco's General Council of Agricultural Development and Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Global Water Partnership (GWP). The topic of his address was: "Water Security: a Global Concern".
The other speakers at the opening session were Dr. Takao Doi, head of space applications for UNOOSA; Dr. Abdulmalek Al Alsheikh, PSIPW general secretary; Mr. Jean-Charles Bigot, European Space Agency; Dr. Yasushi Horikawa, chairman of UN COPUOS, and Mr. Arshad Siraj, executive director of ISNET.
At the opening session, Dr. Abdulmalek Al Alsheikh shared the reason why the UN and PSIPW first established establishing the Conference, saying: "This conference is born of the idea that space technologies are vital for water research, which is right now critical for the future welfare of the human race. Space technologies, particularly remote sensing and GIS, are indispensible for effective water resources management."
The opening session led immediately into the PSIPW Special Session, where Dr. Abdulmalek Al Alsheikh highlighted the past pirizewinners whose work involved the use of space technologies. When he mentioned the Moroccan scholar Abdullatif Larabi, the audience gave a resounding and spontaneous ovation.
Indeed, Dr. Larabi was the special guest speaker at the session, and he spoke about his research since winning the Prize in 2006, which involved using GIS to study the endemic problem of saltwater intrusion in coastal aquifers.
The concluding days of the conference consisted of the meetings of two working groups: The Working Group on Cooperation and Capacity Building and the Working Group on Future Challenges for Water Resources Management.