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Global Earth Observation System of Systems
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The Earth Observation Summit

During the G8 meeting in June 2003 (Evian, France) it was noted that there was a need to strengthen international cooperation on global observations to produce reliable data products covering the atmosphere, land, fresh water, oceans and ecosystems.

The first Earth Observation Summit (EOS) in July 2003 (Washington DC, United States of America) subsequently endorsed a statement of commitment to develop a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained earth observation system or systems. Such a system would directly support policy and decisionmaking and contribute to realization of the goals of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), international conventions and other national and international efforts.

GEOSS 10-year implementation plan

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) was established to coordinate and prepare a 10-year implementation plan for what became known as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Nine Societal Benefit Areas were identified (see box far right) and great efforts are being made to build on existing systems and initiatives to develop a comprehensive, coordinated and sustained programme of observations supporting each Societal Benefit Area. The Plan also includes sections dealing with system architecture, capacity building and outreach.

The Implementation Plan has identified around 240 tasks, which have been prioritized for short-(1–2 years), medium- (3–5 years) or longer-term (5–10 years) implementation. The plan was endorsed at the 3rd EOS (Brussels, Belgium, February 2005).

GTOS contribution

From the beginning, GTOS has welcomed the GEOSS process as it has the political endorsement and support to carry out the important role of coordinating the huge number of national and international activities in the development of the products and data required by end users. GTOS and its Panels have been active in assisting in development of the Societal Benefit Areas, the 10-year implementation plan, and the programmes to implement the short-term objectives, including the implementation of the tasks and activities of the annual work plans. In addition, GTOS is ensuring that its activities comply with and are relevant to GEO objectives and requirements, as well as assisting in the creation of the required networks and infrastructure (see section on IGOL for an example).

GEO Societal Benefit Areas

Disasters – Reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-induced disasters.

Health – Understanding environmental factors affecting human health and well-being.

Energy – Improving management of energy resources.

Climate – Understanding, assessing, predicting, mitigating and adapting to climate variability and change.

Water – Improving water-resource management through better understanding of the water cycle.

Weather – Improving weather information, forecasting and warning.

– Improving the management and protection of terrestrial, coastal and marine resources.

– Supporting sustainable agriculture and combating desertification.

Biodiversity – Understanding, monitoring and conserving biodiversity.

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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   15 January 2007