As part of the European Union’s strategy for sustainable development, the Gothenburg European Council concluded that, by 2008, a European capability should be established for Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).
This initiative stems from the growing awareness that a more coordinated approach is essential in the gathering and interpreting data in order to produce timely, accurate, unbiased information to guide decision-making with regard to environmental and security issues.
The European Commission (EC) and a group of space agencies launched a GMES initiative back in 1988. Following a series of discussions – and a conference on the subject – with the various user communities present, a joint GMES action plan was published by the EC and the European Space Agency (ESA) in June 2001.
The plan proposes a broader approach, combining the resources offered by terrestrial, marine and space-borne observation systems for data collection on a global, regional and local scale. In addition, it promotes greater dialogue between information providers and users as a means of addressing the real needs of society.
The goal is to establish a coherent and user-dedicated European capacity that delivers the information needed for long-term policymaking, while also supporting rapid reaction to natural disasters and conflicts.
"Space-derived data is only one of many data sources used to provide information for decision-makers."
"Users – both in the environmental and security fields – need guarantees on reliability, periodicity, continuity and cost-effectiveness of the data supply, all reckoned over a long period."
"It is essential for GMES to proceed by making the maximum use of systems and data which already exist. In the same way, full use must be made of existing institutions and mechanisms…"
From the chairman’s report of a GMES workshop ‘The User’s perspective’, Stockholm (21-22 March 2001).