The venue for IGARSS 09 has been chosen as the University of Cape Town on the slopes of Table Mountain. The choice of Cape Town, the first time that IGARSS will be held on the African continent, represents a milestone in the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society’s strategic objective to broaden international participation, particularly in the developing countries. Awarding this Symposium to Africa is a tangible and committed step to engage African governments, institutions and individuals in the powerful global network of GRSS earth science and remote sensing specialists. At a stage when many regions of Africa are emerging from dark periods of civil strife and regional conflict, it is an appropriate moment to embrace the possibilities of remote sensing and associated sciences as tools in development, environmental protection, health, good governance, disease and poverty alleviation. A broad alliance of African states, ranging from Algeria to Nigeria to South Africa are cooperating in their new national programmes of space science and Earth Observation, with several small satellites launched or in the planning and construction stages. To meet the human resources needs of these new programmes, young scientists need to be introduced to and become part of the international remote sensing community. The holding of this IGRSS Symposium in Africa will provide a magnificent opportunity to foster these interactions.

IGARSS 09 in Africa will not be happening in isolation. Africa has its own complementary disciplinary societies: the African Association for Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE) and EIS-Africa, which organisations will be partners in hosting the international community in Cape Town. Over the past five years, through a series of training workshops and conferences on remote sensing technologies and applications we have been building up a momentum towards IGARSS 09. Members of the GRSS have made significant contributions to these development efforts.

It is thus with great pleasure on behalf of the GRSS, IGARSS 09 Local Organizing Committee, the Universities of Cape Town and Johannesburg and associated institutions that I invite you to start planning your participation in our annual symposium for Cape Town in 2009.

The programme for Cape Town will have several special sessions, in addition to maintaining continuity of traditional GRSS themes.

We hope to celebrate ten years of MODIS Earth observations, and to take stock five years into the GEOSS programme. On the technical side, we will organise special sessions on microsatellites. In terms of African development, several sessions on applications will address disaster preparedness and response, global change and adaptation, good governance, role of RS in health and disease monitoring, water and food security, forest and fire monitoring, and urban planning.

We invite you also to bring your families. Cape Town is one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, with a wide range of activities. We will plan a family friendly programme that will cater for children, wine lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, culture aficionados and more.

Prof Harold Annegarn, General Chair
July 2008