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Quad leaders announce space-based situational awareness push

In their joint communique at the end of the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Japan the Prime Ministers of Japan, India and Australia and the US President committed to an enhanced earth observation satellite system and to enhanced maritime situational awareness to combat illegal fishing.

The Quad leaders’ meeting began on Monday 23 May, soon after the election of Australia’s new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and the appointment of Australia’s new Foreign Minister, Ms Penny Wong, both of whom attended the meeting.

The communique announced that the four nations “will work together to create an Earth observation-based monitoring and sustainable development framework. We will endeavor [sic] to share space-based civil Earth observation data, along with providing a “Quad Satellite Data Portal” that aggregates links to our respective national satellite data resources.

“We will work together to develop space applications, including in the area of Earth observations, and provide capacity building support to countries in the region, including with regards to partnering on using space capabilities to respond to extreme precipitation events. We will also consult on rules, norms, guidelines and principles for the sustainable use of space, and extend support to countries in the region through joint workshops including in relation to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.”

Exactly how this will be achieved hasn’t yet been disclosed.

The four heads of government also announced “a new maritime domain awareness initiative, the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA), designed to work with regional partners to respond to humanitarian and natural disasters, and combat illegal fishing.”

The IPMDA will support and work in consultation with Indo-Pacific nations and regional information fusion centers in the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands by providing technology and training to support enhanced, shared maritime domain awareness to promote stability and prosperity in their seas and oceans, the communique says.

The Australian Defence Force – principally the RAN and RAAF – already works closely with Pacific Island Nations to maintain a surveillance effort and shared situational awareness over maritime natural resource areas under OP Solania.

The Quad members also announced the establishment of the “Quad Partnership on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in the Indo-Pacific”. This Partnership will further strengthen the four countries’ collaboration to effectively respond to disasters in the region.

“IPMDA embodies what the Quad stands for: catalyzing our joint efforts towards concrete results that help to make the region more stable and prosperous,” it concludes.

The next meeting of the Quad’s four heads of government will be in 2023 in Australia.

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