The European Commission has launched a new initiative to strengthen the European component of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (EuroGEOSS). Thanks to EuroGEOSS, Europe will have access to even more advanced Earth observation services tailored to its needs. This will benefit citizens and businesses by enabling, for example, better protection against natural disasters, more efficient response to climate change, improved management of energy resources, or stronger promotion of sustainable agriculture.
EuroGEOSS was presented on 23 October by Robert-Jan Smits, the Commission’s Director-General for Research and Innovation, at the annual plenary meeting of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in Washington, DC.
EuroGEOSS will promote synergies within existing European Earth observation assets and initiatives. At their centre will be Copernicus, the European Earth observation programme providing services based on full, free and open data from satellites and land-based sources. These services are further enhanced by research infrastructures; projects funded under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme; and initiatives run by the European GEO members.
The European Union has been a driving force within GEO. EU Research and Innovation programmes have been pivotal in building the GEOSS, with over €350 million invested over the period 2007-2017 and with ongoing support from Horizon 2020.
The Commission, as a founding member and one of the four co-chairs of this initiative, and the EU Member States are contributing actively to this international effort. As lead co-chair in 2017, Robert-Jan Smits has led the Executive Committee of the 105-member partnership. In this period GEO developed a strategy for engagement with the commercial sector, adapted a more user-centred approach and enhanced the communication of its results to funders, stakeholders and the wider community by focussing on impact.
The concrete impact of open access to Earth observation data is already evident: farmers are combining agricultural know-how with Earth observation information to optimize harvests in a more sustainable way; governments are using this data for monitoring, advance warning of and responding to natural disasters (including the recent hurricanes); and policy makers are tapping into essential scientific data provided by carbon observing systems to monitor greenhouse gases.