WP13: International organizations / High level forum on Earth observation applications

Get Earth observation environmental applications incorporated in general operational practice of international organizations, including enhanced adoption of GEO data sharing principles and ISO standards.

Task T13.1- Explore the establishment of a high-level forum
The projects carried out by partners cooperating in the EOPOWER project have been successful in the promotion of Earth observation, but usually from a bottom-up perspective. Possibly it can be beneficial to establish a high-level group on Earth observation for environmental applications to get the subject of Earth observation on the agenda at another level. One can think of the grand challenges as formulated by OECD, where the work of GEO is used as one of the examples of international cooperation. The high-level group should consist of important actors that deal with the grand challenges, but not be Earth observation oriented. To give an example: the group should have a broader orientation on the environment than the GEO Executive Committee, and be less ‘political’ and ‘official’ than the assembly of GEO Ministers. A high-level think-tank is perhaps the best fitting description. Such a group functions best in the framework of the GEO process and should thus
be supported by, and set up in cooperation with, the GEO Secretariat. It is unclear whether this initiative is feasible, therefore this task deals with the exploration of the possibility only. As alternative, GEO could link up with existing high-level fora with goals that coincide with the GEOSS targets.

Task T13.2- Resource mobilization with international organizations
Quite a number of international organizations, such as UNEP and FAO, are already members of GEO. Others, such as WHO, are active, but not members. And again others, such as the World Bank, show an increased interest in using and managing geospatial information recently. However, this does not necessarily mean that Earth observation is part of their daily operations. The aim of this task is to get the subject on the agenda: in the terms of reference of requests for proposals (RFPs), but also as supporting instrument to tackle the grand environmental challenges that these organizations face. This requires, perhaps even more than in the project regions, a translation of Earth observation applications in economic terms. In addition to that, the task will increase the name recognition of GEO, and possibly membership of GEO, through a mix of personal visits, discussion, dialogue and promotion, making use of the material developed by the GEONetCab and other projects.
In the GEONetCab project ties have been established with quite a number of organizations. The World Bank has received special attention, because of the scope of its activities, the interest in Earth observation and the potential for EO applications in its operations. The fields of disaster risk management, water management, agriculture, forestry and SDI for World Bank projects have been topics for discussion. Special attention will be given to disaster risk management and water management, as subjects that are most likely to produce quick benefits and where the World Bank has shown interest, notably through its Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR) and Water Partnership Programme (WPP). Where applicable, this will be done in cooperation with the joint pilot programme between ESA and the Bank. Based on the results, activities will be extended to other organizations, such as for example the BMGF and the UN-system (close contacts already exist with the UNSDI initiative and various UN organizations).
In parallel, the gathering of examples that show the economic benefit of Earth observation will continue. These examples will not only be used in the project regions, but also to convince international organizations of the feasibility of Earth observation applications. Several ‘champions’ will be identified, such as the efforts of FSC to introduce Earth observation in the private sector for sustainable forest management.

Task T13.3- Enhancement of data sharing and EO tools uptake between ICPDR and BSCPS
The international Commission of the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (BSC) are two key Commissions in the Black Sea region. Both Commissions are partners in the enviroGRIDS project, and they have started to adopt the GEO data sharing principles by setting up each a dedicated Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). However, gaps have been identified in the way the two Commissions are sharing and comparing in situ measurements in some transnational areas such as the Danube delta. This task is dedicated to the identification of the problems that could be resolved
by enhanced adoption of GEO data sharing principles, ISO standards and by the coordination of both SDIs. Advanced capacity building targeting technical people in both Commissions will be organized.

Task T13.4- Promotion of GEO data sharing principles within UNEP 

UNIGE has a special partnership agreement with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEP/GRID-Geneva has a strong role in making environmental assessments and spatial analysis, by using and developing various SDI, GIS, and EO tools. Even though GRID-Geneva has strong capacity for promoting GEO data sharing principles and the tools associated to it, there is a slow uptake and application of these tools in UNEP-wide programmes and activities. This task is dedicated to the analysis of the bottlenecks towards adoption of these principles in UNEP, and to the promotion of these principles and tools in key UNEP work programmes in order to enhance their adoption, and ultimately to increase the availability of environmental data and indicators to the outside community. Strengthening UNEP in this area could raise awareness about the benefits of EO and GEO data sharing principles towards other UN agencies.
United Nations Environment Programme /Global Resource Information Database – Kenya/USA/Switzerland DEWA/GRID centres are part of UNEP's global group of environmental information centres, known as the Global Resource Information Database (GRID) network. GRIDs-Geneva and Nairobi were the first centres to be launched in mid-1985. GRID centres not only facilitate access to but directly provide environmental data and information for decision-making and policy setting; underpin UNEP's ongoing review of environmental state and trends; and provide early warnings about emerging environmental problems and threats.
As an internationally-recognized centre for applied research, transform data into scientifically validated information to support environmental early warnings and assessments for sustainable development, from local to global scales.
Serve UNEP and its partners as a source of “actionable”, popular and timely early warnings of emerging issues and environmental change, and related multi-scale assessments, based on scientific data, indicators and real-time information, and help to catalyse “evidence-based” responses.

Task T13.5- Enhancing EO data discovery across Africa 
UNIGE has developed, in the context of the EU/FP7 Afromaison project (http://www.afromaison.net), a tool called the AfroMaison Discovery Broker to facilitate the discovery of and access to heterogeneous resources (e.g., EO data, geospatial data, climate data, reports) in Africa. This solution allows to link resources published by data providers of various disciplines, adapting them to the tools commonly used by data users. To achieve interoperability among various resources in such a multi-disciplinary framework, it is important not to change or impose interoperability arrangements within communities, but instead to try lowering entry barriers for both users and providers.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) is among the major players in GIS/SDI/EO in Africa having an important network of partners/stakeholders. UNECA represents a key enabler to support the adoption of interoperable solutions to share EO data and products, raise awareness about the benefits of increased access on EO, and create commitments and active contributions in enabling and facilitating the discovery and access to EO data. Consequently, strengthening, extending and supporting UNECA with this discovery broker could (1) benefit UNECA’s network of stakeholders, (2) bring new and relevant/significant African EO resources in the broker, increasing their visibility and dissemination, and (3) can be a major contribution to the recently created AfriGEOSS initiative aimed at reinforcing Earth observation in Africa (http://www.earthobservations.org/art_019_002.shtml).
Finally, active participation and contribution to the conferences GSDI14 and AfricaGIS 2013 (jointly organized by EIS-Africa, GSDI Association, IGS and UNECA) in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia, November 2013) (http://www.gsdi.org/gsdiconf/gsdi14/) is foreseen to present the “UNECA enriched” discovery broker to facilitate discovery and access to EO data and products in Africa.

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