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Earth observation: Global cooperation becomes real

Earth observation: Global cooperation becomes reality

Today is the occasion of the Third Earth Observation Summit, hosted by the European Commission in Brussels. Representatives of around 60 nations and over 40 international organisations will endorse a 10-year plan with concrete steps towards comprehensive co-operation in Earth observation. Over the next decade, this system will increase our understanding of the Earth and how it works. With benefits as broad as the planet itself, this initiative promises to make peoples and economies around the globe healthier, safer and better equipped to manage their basic daily needs. The aim is to create an observation system as , providing theinterrelated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects science on which sound policy and decision-making can be built.

“The tsunami disaster has shown us just how important earth observation can be, by providing invaluable data to support the immediate humanitarian response and now reconstruction. Global problems need global solutions. By working together across the world to interlink all our earth observation systems, whether in space, in the air or on the ground, we will be giving ourselves the instruments to tackle these problems more effectively”, said European Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik.

“It is very fitting that we are today, on the date of entry into force of the Kyoto protocol, launching a system that will greatly enhance our understanding of the environment and will hopefully help us to do what we can to improve it”, said European Commissioner in charge of Environment Stavros Dimas, who delivered the opening address.

There are many nations and agencies constantly using Earth observation tools, but until now co-operation has been limited. With so many countries and organisations agreeing to work together to collect and share data from individual systems, the benefits of Earth observation will grow and will be available to citizens around the globe.

This Third Earth Observation Summit will have a significant number of participants from the developing world. Adapting this global initiative to their interests will bring with it social and economic benefits. These will include a greater understanding of environmental factors affecting human health and well being, improved water resource management, reduced loss of life and property from natural disasters, sustainable agriculture and measures to combat desertification.

Today’s agreement on the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) will provide the overall conceptual and organizational framework for global Earth observation to meet user needs. GEOSS will be a “system of systems”, existing and future, supplementing but not supplanting each system’s own mandates and governance arrangements.

It will provide the institutional mechanisms for ensuring the coordination and strengthening of existing global Earth observation systems. GEOSS will build on the success of Earth observation research programmes, and help the systems to be used in a practical way.

More information on the Earth Observation Summit can be found at the Earth & Space week website:

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