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| GEO structure

GEO is a unique model of governance, based on the voluntary basis of its members. Every year all Members and Participating Organizations meet during the Plenary session at the level of GEO top hierarchy representatives (so-called "GEO Principals") and periodically at the ministerial level. The first Plenary meeting held in May 2005 in Geneva, followed by GEO-II in December 2005 in Geneva, GEO-III in Bonn in November 2006, and GEO IV, jointly organised with the Ministerial Summit in Cape Town in November 2007. The decision is taken at the Plenary by consensus.
The GEO Secretariat located in the headquarters building of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, consists of a Director appointed by the Executive Committee, several international civil servants, and approximately 10 national technical and scientific experts who are seconded to the Secretariat for two or three years. The Secretariat is responsible for coordinating the Tasks and other activities that are driving the 10-Year Implementation Plan for GEOSS. It also services the Plenary and the Committees and implements outreach and other support activities.The GEO Secretariat is supported financially by the European Commission, through the actual EU RTD Framework Programme.
The Director of the GEO Secretariat, José Achache, who was reappointed for a new mandate of three years starting with January 2009, is responsible for managing the programmatic and administrative support to GEO, coordinating the development and implementation of the GEOSS Work Plan, and maintaining effective working relationships with the broader GEO community.


An Executive Committee and four Supporting Committees actually guide the implementation of GEOSS-10 year implementation plan. The Supporting Committees are also supported by Expert staff from the GEO Secretariat. The Committees are organized around the four Transverse Areas of user engagement, architecture and data management, capacity building, and science and technology, which cut across, and are relevant to, each of the specific Social Benefit Areas. The four permanent bodies are the Architecture and Data, Capacity Building, Science and Technology, User Interface Committee.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee oversees GEO’s activities and it counts 12 members designated from the five GEO regions: Americas, Asia and Europe share three representatives, two belong to Africa, the last one is chosen among members from the Commonwealth of Independent States. Amongst them, GEO members establish four members ("C4") to serve as co-chairs of the Plenary and the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is also responsible for guiding the Secretariat, and to put into practise the decisions taken during the plenary meetings. The following members have been selected to form the Executive Committee (those marked in red are currently co-Chairs members):


  • South Africa
  • Uganda



  • Argentina
  • Belize (1-year term)
  • United States


  • Australia
  • China
  • Korea
Commonwealth of Independent States
  • Russian Federation


  • European Commission (Zoran Stančič)
  • France (Daniel Vidal-Madjar)
  • Norway (1-year term)

The current co-Chairs members are represented by the following persons:

  • European Commission - Zoran Stančič, Deputy Director-General for Research, alternative chair Manuela Soares, Director of Directorate Environment- Research DG of the European Commission
  • China - Zheng Guoguang, Administrator, Chinese Meteorological Administration
  • South Africa - Philemon Mjwara, Director-General, Department of Science and Technology
  • United States - Sherburne Abbott, Associate director for Environment and Energy, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President

Architecture & Data Committee

The Architecture and Data Committee supports GEO in its architecture and data management tasks. The Committee duty is to design, coordinate, and implement GEOSS. The Committee counts on seven co-chairs representing members and organizations present in GEO. Those are the following:

  • CEOS – Ivan Petiteville, CEOS Executive Officer, European Space Agency (ESA)
  • China – Zhang Jiashen, Head of Operational, Science and Technology Division, National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration
  • European Commission – Alessandro Annoni, Unit Head, Spatial Data Infrastructures, Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES)/DG Joint Research Centre (JRC)
  • IEEE – Jay Pearlman, Chief Engineer, NCO, Boeing Company, United States
  • Japan – Ryosuke Shibasaki, Director and Professor, Center for Spatial Information Science, University of Tokyo
  • United States – Ivan DeLoatch, Chief, Office of Geospatial Information Coordination, United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • World Meteorological Organization – Barbara Ryan, Director, Observing and Information Systems Deparatment, WMO Space Programme

- Architecture & data Committee terms of Reference pdf [99 Kb]

Capacity Building Committee

The role of the capacity Building Committee is to increase the potential of a single country to contribute to GEOSS, and to strengthen institutional networks. The Capacity Building Committee acts also as a coordinator between countries still in phase of development and those who have advanced building capacity, in order to reach a global partnership among GEO members, aiming at meeting the requirements of the end users using the most recent progress of research and technology. Furthermore, GEO aims to establish and maintain certain sites for global in situ and remote-sensing networks that cannot always be justified on national grounds alone, in cooperation with relevant global research programmes and activities, in order to achieve synergies between observations and achievements. Five Committee co-Chairs have been selected, those are the following:

  • Brazil – Hilcéa Ferreira, Technologist at the Earth Observation Coordination & Adviser at the International Affairs Office, National Institute for Space Research (INPE)
  • European Commission – Alan Edwards, Programme Officer, Directorate-General for Research
  • Republic of South Africa – Andiswa Mlisa, Director Geoinformatics, Umvoto Africa
  • Spain – Marta Angoloti, Head of Unit, National Meteorological Institute, Ministry of Environment
  • UNESCO – Yolanda Berenguer, Space Education Programme Coordinator

- Capacity Building Committee terms of Reference pdf [101 Kb]

- Capacity Building Strategy pdf [216 Kb]

Science and Technology Committee

Science and Technology Committee main issue is to involve the scientific and technological communities in the development, implementation and use of GEOSS, ensuring scientific and technological advice from GEO members. It will also promote partnerships with major relevant international research programmes and organizations, willing to contribute to GEO activities. Currently there are four committee co-Chairs, picked up among members and participants:

  • Australia – Stuart Minchin, Research Director (Environmental Observation and Landscape Science), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Land and Water, Black Mountain Laboratories
  • COSPAR – Jean-Louis Fellous, Executive Director, Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), France
  • European Commission – Gilles Ollier, Policy Officer, Earth Observation, Directorate-General for Research
  • Germany – Jörn Hoffmann, D-GEO Secretariat, German Aerospace Center
  • South Africa – Boni Mehlomakulu, Group Executive on Research, Development & Innovation, Department of Science and Technology (DST)

- Science and Technology Committee terms of Reference pdf [123 Kb]

- The role of Science and Technology in GEOSS pdf [1.51 Mb]

User Interface Committee

The specific goal of this supporting Committee is to address cross-cutting issues by coordinating user communities of practice, ensuring continuity and avoiding duplication. The User Interface Committee will work with all end-user communities, to ensure that the best intelligence and information are available to support GEO, and to contribute to the realization of benefits through GEOSS implementation. The Committee co-Chairs representing members and participants are the following:

  • European Commission – Francesco Pignatelli, GMES Co-ordinator, Global Environment Monitoring, Institute for Environment and Sustainability/DG Joint Research Center
  • France – Thierry Ranchin, Deputy Director of the Centre for Energy and Processes, Head of Observation, Modelling, Decision Teamp, Ecole des Mines de Paris (ENSMP)
  • IEEE – Ellsworth F. LeDrew, Professor of Geography, University Research Chair, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • India – J. S. Parihar, Deputy Director, Remote Sensing Applications Area (RESA), Space Applications Center, ISRO
  • United States – Gary J. Foley, Earth Observation Executive, Office of the Science Advisor, Environmental Protection Agency

- User Interface Committee terms of Reference pdf [125 Kb]


GEO is an open community where countries from the United Nations can be admitted, providing that they formally endorse the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan. GEO currently includes 79 countries and the European Commission, which is also a GEO members. A list of the current GEO membership is given below.

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

Participating organizations

Intergovernmental, international and regional organizations dealing with Earth observation or related activities are also part of GEO structure, after approval of the Plenary Meeting by GEO Members. As in the case of the Membership, the participating organization has to endorse GEOSS 10-year implementation plan. For the moment, the following 56 Participating Organizations joined GEO: