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| EO SummitsEarth 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”