His Excellency Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to invite you here today to the Chinese Mission for a briefing on the Group on Earth Observations Beijing Ministerial Summit.
First of all, as one of GEO co-chairs, I would like to take this opportunity to brief you about GEO and GEOSS.
The Group on Earth Observations was formally established in 2005 to coordinate the efforts of all nations to build the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS. It was launched in response to calls for action by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and by a series of Earth observation summits. Currently, GEO has 81 Members, including 80 national governments plus the EC. We also have 58 Participating Organizations, of which about a dozen are United Nations bodies.
GEO is co-chaired by China, which I represent, the European Commission, South Africa and the United States. GEO’s ultimate goal is to support governments, the United Nations, and other organizations in their efforts to respond more effectively to the many environmental and resource challenges facing modern civilization. GEO provides a flexible governance framework within which governments and organizations are coordinating their Earth observation strategies and investments, interlinking their observation systems, making data interoperable, developing end-to-end information services, promoting capacity-building, and advocating for the full and open access to Earth observation data and services.
The GEOSS “system of systems” that we are building is interconnecting observation, decision-support and information dissemination systems that are contributed by governments and organizations. It encompasses ocean buoys, in-situ monitoring stations, satellites, forecasting models and decision-support information services. GEOSS is supporting decision making for the nine Societal Benefit Areas of agriculture, biodiversity, climate, disasters, ecosystems, energy, health, water, and weather.
This year marks the mid-way point in GEO’s 10-year plan for establishing the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, a significant moment for looking back on progress and looking ahead to next steps. The Government of the People’s Republic of China is therefore extremely honored to be hosting the next annual meeting of the GEO Plenary on 3 and 4 November in Beijing. This will be followed by the second GEO Ministerial Summit, on 5 November. This of course is the reason that we have invited you here today for a briefing. Ministers have always stood at the forefront of the GEOSS project. They called for urgent action on Earth observation at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Three Earth observation summits, as well as their declarations built on this momentum. After GEO was established, ministers met in Cape Town in 2007 to provide guidance on putting the GEOSS data sharing principles into effect, sustaining the operations of GEOSS, and strengthening collaboration and interoperability.
In Beijing, Ministers will again have the opportunity to provide guidance to the GEO community, set priorities and targets for implementing GEOSS, discuss long-term governance issues, ensure that GEOSS addresses the challenges articulated by the Millennium Development Goals, and promote efforts to build greater capacity for using and contributing to Earth observation.
A particularly critical issue in need of strong political leadership will be the adoption of a comprehensive action plan for data sharing within GEOSS. To demonstrate the practical implementation of the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles, Ministers are being invited to announce their country's contributions of specific new sets of in-situ or remotely sensed data, either in advance of, or at, the Beijing Summit.
Ministers will also be able to review the overall progress that GEO has made since its establishment in 2005. They will be provided with a report on progress, a series of presentations showcasing some of GEO’s key successes, a tour of an ambitious and comprehensive exhibition, and events where they can discuss their needs for policy-relevant data and information with their peers.
For the GEO community, the guidance of ministers is essential. For ministers, the Beijing Summit will provide essential insights into how the Global Earth Observation System of Systems can provide greater scientific knowledge, information for informed decision making, and critical benefits to society.
I would like to request of you, the ambassadors and diplomats based in Geneva, which hosts the GEO Secretariat, to help us by engaging your ministers in the Beijing Ministerial Summit. Your minister’s participation in Beijing is vital for ensuring the continuing momentum of GEO..
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for attending this briefing event and I look forward to working with you and your governments to assure the success of the Beijing Ministerial. Thank you.