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Earth Observation (EO) Summits improve coordination of EO strategies and activities among governments and the international community to understand and address global environmental and economic challenges. Long term perspective is the establishment of a comprehensive and sustained global EO system of systems. Importantly, the Summits have stressed the inclusion of developing countries, both as users, with access to and the ability to use EO data and products effectively, and as contributors to a larger world EO system.

Ministerial Summit - Cape Town 2007

Ministers and government officials at the Ministerial Summit on the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) adopted a Declaration stressing the importance of interconnecting the world’s diverse environmental monitoring systems over the coming decade. Beside the Declaration, the Summit considered a Report on Progress highlighting some 100 Early Achievements illustrating the kinds of societal benefits that the System of Systems will produce.

EO Summit III - Brussels 2005

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Comprehensive, global EO co-operation moved from discussion to implementation with the launch of the GEOSS Ten-Year Implementation Plan. Delegations from almost 60 countries around the world as well as more than 40 organisations came together in Brussels on 16 February 2005 to lend their support to the plan.

This was the third Earth Observation Summit in little over 18 months, and Co-chairs Achilleas Mitsos and Conrad Lautenbacher emphasised the welcome expansion of interest, with the number of countries and organisations almost doubling since the first EO Summit. Lautenbacher considered the success was down to the high-level political commitment all around, while Mitsos underlined that the initiative was still open to new participants, and the EU would support any country or group wanting to take part.

A significant proportion of delegations at the Summit were from the developing world, where EO has particular relevance. The Co-chair Rob Adam stressed the role of GEO to act as a driving force for international co-operation and multilateralism by including many developing countries in the process and emphasised the necessity of GEOSS to clearly address capacity building issues and to take into account the particular needs of developing countries.

The EO Summit III summit participants adopted the Summit resolution, by which they endorsed the GEOSS Ten-Year Implementation Plan and its related Reference Document, established the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations as successor of the ad hoc GEO, and affirmed their intention to support the execution of the ten-year plan.

EO Summit II - Tokyo 2004

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Tokyo was the setting for the second Earth Observation Summit on 25 April 2004, this time including representatives of more than 40 world governments. The ad hoc GEO delivered detailed content guidelines, known as the 'Framework Document', for the Ten-Year Implementation Plan and identified nine societal benefit areas of GEOSS.

In his welcoming remarks, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that observing the Earth is an important means of understanding the planet and of understanding the causes and effects of forces acting on the environment and human society. By taking advantage of science and technology, he said, “we can preserve the environment, and at the same time, realise sustainable social and economic development”.

European Commission Research Director General Achilleas Mitsos said, “The interest of the European partners is great. We are ready to contribute to a true partnership for global observations through our initiative on Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, or GMES.”

The EO Summit II Declaration was signed by all EO Summit participants, and called for strengthened international co-operation on global observation of the environment. The Declaration expressed:

  • Satisfaction with the Framework Document, which describes the principal societal benefits of Earth observations and the fundamental elements to be included in the Ten-Year Implementation Plan;
  • Support for the process under way and approval for the proposed way forward, recognising the increased membership and participation of countries and organisations since the first Summit;
  • The wish for GEO to develop a Ten-Year Implementation Plan for what would thenceforth be called a ‘Global Earth Observation System of Systems’, before the third Earth Observation Summit in early 2005.

EO Summit I-Washington 2003

Earth Observation is key to competitiveness

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High-level representatives of 34 world governments met in Washington on 31 July 2003 to discuss and promote the development of comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained EO systems. The ad hoc GEO was established and charged with developing a framework for activities and a Ten-Year Implementation Plan.

In his opening statement to the EO Summit, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “An integrated earth observation system would vastly increase our store of knowledge and leverage billions of dollars of worldwide investment. There is much for you to do here over the next two days and I encourage you to take full advantage of this opportunity to exchange experience, ideas and insight.”


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