Ministerial Summit Renews GEO’s Mandate

geox17 January 2014: The Group on Earth Observations' (GEO) Tenth Plenary Session (GEO-X) and Geneva Ministerial Summit renewed GEO's mandate and launched the process for the development of a second 10-Year Implementation Plan for the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to cover 2015-2025.

GEO-X convened from 15-16 January 2014, followed by the Ministerial Summit on 17 January, in Geneva, Switzerland. The two events were attended by approximately 700 delegates representing over 50 countries and more than 45 organizations.

The principal outcomes of these meetings were the renewal of GEO's mandate until 2025 and the adoption of the Geneva Declaration, containing high-level recommendations to guide the development of a detailed 2015-2025 Implementation Plan for GEOSS. GEOSS is a “system of systems” that seeks to link existing and planned Earth observing systems around the world, and supports the development of new systems where gaps currently exist, with a view to providing key data to assist decision makers, planners and emergency managers in nine “Societal Benefit Areas” (SBAs), namely: disasters, health, energy, climate, water, water, ecosystems, agriculture and biodiversity.

Work in many of these SBAs is guided by “Communities of Practice” (CoPs) voluntarily formed by stakeholders, from providers to the final beneficiaries of Earth observation data and information, with a common interest in specific aspects of societal benefits to be realized by GEOSS implementation. Current CoPs address: air quality, atmospheric chemistry, biodiversity, carbon, coastal zones, cryosphere, energy, forests, geohazards, global agricultural monitoring, health and the environment, and the water cycle.

The Geneva Declaration calls for the preparation of a 2015-2025 Implementation Plan for endorsement at the next GEO Ministerial Summit, planned for the time window November 2015-January 2016, which takes into account commitments to the UN sustainable development themes. The Declaration also calls for, among other things: developing a framework for sustained resource commitments in support of the new Implementation Plan; improving the availability of open access datasets; consolidating observing networks; improving global coverage and availability of data; further developing GEO global initiatives; and fostering regional cooperation.

GEO was created in February 2005 at an Earth Obseration Summit held in Brussels, Belgium, as the result of the call by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) for coordinated observations relating to the state of the Earth. The new intergovernmental organization was tasked with carrying out a 2005-2015 Implementation Plan for GEOSS. [IISD RS Coverage of GEO-X and the Geneva Ministerial] [GEO-X Website] [GEO-X Documents] [Geneva Declaration] [UNISDR Press Release]