The impact of natural and man-made disasters on the social and economic progress is going to become more significant, making necessary to consider natural disasters reduction. Therefore civil protection and resource managers need elements to make quicker and better decisions on a day-to-day basis, so giving the start to an emerging world-wide remote sensing market. A deep analysis on the potential users, mainly devoted to Mediterranean basin, highlights that existing and/or planned systems are not able to completely satisfy their requirements. To fulfill this gap, Italy decided to promote the SkyMed/COSMO system, presently financed by the Italian Space Agency. SkyMed/COSMO is a constellation of small satellites for observation, remote sensing and data exploitation for risks management and coastal zone monitoring, conceived to provide products, services and logistics to both institutional and commercial remote sensing users on global scale. Furthermore the system is able to satisfy a broad spectrum of important applications also in the field of the resource management, land use and law enforcement. The SkyMed/COSMO current system architecture foresees a constellation of small satellites in two different orbit planes composed by 4 satellite equipped with X-band SAR and 3 satellites equipped with optical sensors. The system is characterized by good spatial resolution, day and night/all-weather imaging capability and by a very good revisit time. The program, currently in phase B, is carried out by an industrial consortium lead by Alenia Aerospazio.