Press Release


Latin America: Sophisticated Japanese Satellite System (ALOS) will provide advanced Data to better adapt to climate threats

April 18, 2008 (JST)

The World Bank
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2008 -Up-to-the-minute-data and expertise derived from the Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS) developed and operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will contribute a better formulation of measures to adapt to climate change threats in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to an agreement signed today between JAXA and the World Bank.

ALOS will be used by the World Bank as an effective tool to detect changes in vulnerable ecosystems region wide. ALOS capabilities will enhance the World Bank's adaptation initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Using highly advanced instrumentation, ALOS capabilities includes capturing high resolution photos of land cover and natural resources. ALOS images and data will be used in support of World Bank adaptation projects in Colombia, Mexico, the Andes region of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador and the West Indies. Images taken by ALOS of the tropical glaciers in the Andes are already being facilitated and used for the assessment of glacier dynamics under an adaptation project in the region.

"It represents a big step forward for our institution and our partners to have access to a state of the art system capable of high resolution imaging," says Laura Tuck, World Bank Regional Director for Sustainable Development. "Climate change impacts will impose a heavy tax on the economies of the region, in particular on the poor. Adaptation to climate change is key given the severe and largely irreversible effects in the region," Tuck added.

"We hope that ALOS will make invaluable contributions to the Bank's projects in Latin American countries. This agreement will facilitate it through scientific and technical exchange including technical expertise and capacity building." explains Dr. Yasushi Horikawa, JAXA Executive Director. "This agreement represents a significant first step in our new partnership to tackle our common agenda of global environmental problems both on the ground and in space."

ALOS will directly improve the delivery of a series of adaptation programs being develop by the World Bank in the field of adaptation to climate change projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, among them:

  • Regional Adaptation to the Impact of Rapid Glacier Retreat in the Tropical Andes Project (Regional Andes Project) in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, co-financed by the Global Environment Facility, with a focus on the mountain and glaciated areas;
  • Integrated National Adaptation Program (INAP) in Colombia, co-financed by the Global Environment Facility, with a focus on biomass density and land cover in high-mountain (Páramos and Glaciers) and coastal (wetlands and mangroves) ecosystems;
  • Adaptation to Climate Impacts in the Gulf of Mexico in Mexico, co-financed by the Global Environmental Facility, forest and coastal wetland ecosystems; and
  • Support to the Caribbean: Implementation of Adaptation Measures in Coastal Zones (SPACC) project in Dominica, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, co-financed by the Global Environment Facility, with a focus on coastal ecosystems and mangroves.
"Gaining access to this valuable data will help the World Bank in its efforts to support Latin American Countries better adapt to climate change," says Walter Vergara, World Bank Lead Chemical Engineer and Task Manager of a portfolio of adaptation projects in Latin America. "ALOS has three detectors that allow very high resolution of land cover, unsurpassed by other alternative means in coverage and accuracy. This will allow countries in the region to monitor the evolution of land cover and landforms, including the extent of tropical glaciers, the evolution of mountain and coastal wetlands and even the status of coral reefs, as an input for decision making in adaptation," Vergara added.

As of April 15, 2008, total investment in adaptation in Latin America totaled, including World Bank Support reached US$90 million.


In Washington: Sergio Jellinek (202) 458-2841
Stevan Jackson (202) 458-5054

For more information on the World Bank's work in the area of Climate Change in Latin America, please visit: