Group on Earth Observations

Group on Earth Observations

The Group on Earth Observations (or GEO) is coordinating international efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). It is linking together existing and planned Earth observation systems and supporting the development of new ones where the need exists. The aim is to construct a global public infrastructure for Earth observations that, like the Internet, will consist of a flexible and distributed network of content providers.

Common Earth observation instruments include ocean buoys, meteorological stations and balloons, seismic and Global Positioning System (GPS) stations, remote-sensing satellites, computerized forecasting models and early warning systems. These instruments are used to measure and monitor specific aspects of the Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems.

Earth observations are vital for policymaking and assessment in many fields. GEO focuses on nine priority areas: natural and human-induced disasters, the environmental sources of health hazards, energy management, climate change and its impacts, freshwater resources, weather forecasting, ecosystem management, sustainable agriculture, and biodiversity conservation.

History and structure

GEO was established in February 2005 by the Third Earth Observation Summit in Brussels at the end of a process that started in 2003 with the First Earth Observation Summit in Washington DC. [Earth Observation Summit III documents - [] ] It was launched in response to calls for action by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development [WSSD Plan of Implementation - [] ] and the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialized countries. [Gleneagles plan of action - [] ] These high-level meetings recognized that international collaboration is essential for exploiting the growing potential of Earth observations to support decision making in an increasingly complex and environmentally stressed world.

GEO is a voluntary partnership of governments and international organizations. It provides a framework within which these partners can develop new projects and coordinate their strategies and investments. As of January 2008, GEO’s membership includes 72 Governments and the European Commission; in addition, 52 intergovernmental, international and regional organizations with a mandate in Earth observation or related issues have been recognized as Participating Organizations (see lists below). Each Member and Participating Organization is represented by a Principal and a Principal Alternate. Members make financial contributions to GEO on a voluntary basis.

GEO is constructing GEOSS on the basis of a 10-Year Implementation Plan. Adopted by the Third Earth Observation Summit, the Plan runs from 2005 to 2015. It defines a vision statement for GEOSS, its purpose and scope, expected benefits, nine “Societal Benefit Areas” (disasters, health, energy, climate, water, weather, ecosystems, agriculture and biodiversity), technical and capacity-building priorities, and the GEO governance structure. [GEOSS Implementation Plan - [] ] GEO is governed by a Plenary consisting of all Members and Participating Organizations. GEO meets in Plenary at least once a year at the level of senior officials and periodically at the ministerial level. The Plenary held its first meeting in May 2005 in Geneva, followed by GEO-II in December 2005 in Geneva, GEO-III in Bonn in November 2006, and GEO-IV (plus a Ministerial Summit) in Cape Town in November 2007. Members take decisions at the Plenary by consensus.

GEO Members

Algeria / Argentina / Australia / Bahrain / Bangladesh / Belgium / Belize / Brazil / Cameroon / Canada / Central African Republic / Chile / China / Congo, Republic of the / Costa Rica / Croatia / Cyprus / Czech Republic / Denmark / Egypt / European Commission / Finland / France / Germany / Greece / Guinea-Bissau / Honduras / Hungary / Iceland / India / Indonesia / Iran / Ireland / Israel / Italy / Japan / Kazakhstan / Korea, Republic of / Latvia / Luxembourg / Malaysia / Mali / Mauritius / Mexico / Moldova / Morocco / Nepal / Netherlands / New Zealand / Niger / Nigeria / Norway / Pakistan / Panama / Paraguay / Philippines / Portugal / Romania / Russian Federation / Slovakia / Slovenia / South Africa / Spain / Sudan / Sweden / Switzerland / Thailand / Tunisia / Uganda / Ukraine / United Kingdom / United States / Uzbekistan

GEO Participating Organizations

AARSE: African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment
ADIE: Association for the Development of Environmental Information
APN: Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research
Cathalac: Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean
CEOS: Committee on Earth Observation Satellites
CGMS: Coordination Group for Meteorological Satellites
CMO: Caribbean Meteorological Organization
COSPAR: Committee on Space Research
ECMWF: European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts
EEA: European Environmental Agency
EIS-AFRICA: Environmental Information Systems - AFRICA
ESA: European Space Agency
ESEAS: European Sea Level Service
EUMETNET: Network of European Meteorological Services/Composite Observing System
EUMETSAT: European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites
EuroGeoSurveys: The Association of the Geological Surveys of the European Union
FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FDSN: Federation of Digital Broad-Band Seismograph Networks
GBIF: Global Biodiversity Information Facility
GCOS: Global Climate Observing System
GSDI: Global Spatial Data Infrastructure
GOOS: Global Ocean Observing System
GTOS: Global Terrestrial Observing System
IAG: International Association of Geodesy
ICSU: International Council for Science
IEEE: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
IGBP: International Geosphere-Biosphere Program
IGFA: International Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research
IGOS-P: Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership
IHO: International Hydrographic Organization
IISL: International Institute for Space Law
INCOSE: International Council on Systems Engineering
IO3C: International Ozone Commission
IOC: Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
ISCGM: International Steering Committee for Global Mapping
ISDR: International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
ISPRS: International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
OGC: Open Geospatial Consortium
POGO: Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean
SICA/CCAD: Central American Commission for the Environment and Development
SOPAC: South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission
UNCBD: United Nations Convention on Biodiversity
UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFCCC: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
UNITAR: United Nations Institute for Training and Research
UNOOSA: United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
UNU-EHS: United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security
WCRP: World Climate Research Programme
WFPHA: World Federation of Public Health Associations
WMO: World Meteorological Organization

External links

Group on Earth Observations (
List of web sites of GEO Participating Organizations (
Canadian Group on Earth Observations (
German GEO (
European Commission – (
Europe GMES (
The Netherlands and GEO (


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