GEO logo
         GEOSS Portal Button

GEO 2017-2019 Work Programme


Oceans and Society: Blue Planet

Activity ID: 127


We live on a Blue Planet, and Earth’s waters benefit many sectors of society. In 2015, through development of a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal explicitly targeted at the oceans (SDG 14), the global community has prioritised the need for concerted action to ensure sustainable growth and management of blue economies across the planet. Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 15 (climate action and life on land) further recognise that the future of our Blue Planet is increasingly reliant on the services delivered by marine, coastal and inland waters and on the advancement of effective, evidence-based decisions on sustainable development.

The overall goal of Blue Planet Initiative is to ensure the sustained development and use of ocean and coastal observations for the benefit of society. The objectives to achieve this goal are:

  • Objective 1: Increase integration of and access to in-situ and remote sensing ocean observation data;
  • Objective 2: Conceptualize, promote and facilitate development of end-to-end ocean information services;
  • Objective 3: Improve connections between the producers and providers of ocean observation data, products and information and the end users.
  • Objective 4: Increase societal support and build capacity for ocean observations.

As a GEO Initiative, Blue Planet will enable direct linkages between the ocean observing community and users within an agreed, yet flexible framework. This will benefit society by facilitating informed decisions and increasing public access to and support for sustained ocean observations and information. Specific outcomes include support from the ocean community for GEO’s data management principles and the demonstration of prototype/pilot services that address GEO’s societal benefit areas such as:

  • Improved forecasts of local sea-level rise and associated increased risk of coastal inundation for better mitigation of flood-related disasters and management of sustainable urban development;
  • Monitoring of marine debris for evaluating biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability, aquaculture and public health surveillance;
  • Environmental monitoring of off shore and coastal industries for energy and mineral resources management as well as water resources management; and
  • Monitoring of illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries operations for evaluating biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability in addition to food security management.

Activities for the period

To achieve the above objectives, Blue Planet activities will be organized into four major components:

1) data integration and informatics, 2) information services, 3) user engagement and 4) capacity building and advocacy. These components align with the four objectives and will be composed of working groups tasked with identifying priorities, producing prototype/pilot projects and coordinating with related GEO activities. Component activities will be focused on the thematic areas of coastal communities, healthy ecosystems and food security, the blue economy and maritime awareness. Blue Planet components work together on activities within the four themes. These activities ultimately link to GEO’s societal benefit areas (SBAs) and work to facilitate informed decision making and address policy mandates.  Specific activities include:

  • Implementation of the Communication and Engagement Strategy;
  • Special Issue: Blue Planet will arrange for the production of a special issue of the Journal of Operational Oceanography on ocean observing for societal benefits;
  • 3rd Symposium: Blue Planet will organize and host the 3rd Blue Planet Symposium – “The Role of the Oceans in Earth’s Life-Support System” – in College Park, Maryland, U.S.

As a living document, the Implementation Plan will be regularly updated based on community feedback and identified user needs.

User engagement

Over the coming year, Blue Planet will focus on engagement with the ocean observing community, end-users and industry with the goal of expanding its network. This will be accomplished through the production and initial implementation of a communication and engagement strategy to: 1) raise awareness among ocean observation operators, users and the GEO community about the goal of Blue Planet and opportunities for engagement, involvement and collaboration; 2) increase collaborative efforts among Blue Planet shareholders and stakeholders; and 3) establish a platform to market support of ocean observations to governments and other potential end users of Blue Planet services.

Future plans

Where possible, the activities of the Oceans and Society: Blue Planet Initiative will also address international mandates such as the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 that is explicitly focused upon the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans. Accordingly, the global community has prioritised the need for concerted action to ensure sustainable growth and management of blue or ocean economies, currently valued at USD 1.5 trillion and projected to double by 2030. More broadly the activities of Blue Planet have policy-relevance to a raft of international instruments (conventions, frameworks) and programmes that encompass disaster management, adaptation to climate change, conservation and biodiversity, environmental protection, sustainable development and maritime safety. When appropriate, Blue Planet will also facilitate the development of prototype/pilot services into GEO Flagships.


Direct contributions

  • For management and representation within GEO: Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO) Secretariat (approx. 30% FTE);
  • For coordination and communications:
    • Blue Planet Secretariat node hosted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (Scientific Coordinator, 1 FTE);
    • Blue Planet Secretariat node hosted by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (data/informatics expert and communications/graphic design support).
  • Infrastructure, IT, website, database infrastructure provided by CSIRO.

In-kind contributions

  • Human resources: in-kind contributions from various international, national and regional ocean observation-related programmes, organisations and individuals.


  • Primary point of contact: Sophie Seeyave (POGO),
  • Ad hoc Board consisting of representatives from CEOS, the CZCP, CSIRO, GODAE OceanView, GOOS, NOAA and POGO.


Members: Australia, EC, Japan, South Africa, UK, USA.

Participating Organizations: CEOS, GOOS, IEEE, IOC, POGO, WMO.

Linkages across the Work Programme


Initiatives: AfriGEOSS; AmeriGEOSS; AOGEOSS; Earth Observations in Service of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; EO4EA; GEO ECO; GEOGLOWS; GEO Wetlands Initiative; Global Urban Observation And Information.

Community Activities: AquaWatch; Harmful Algal Bloom (Hab) Early Warning System; Global Flood Risk Monitoring; Global Mangrove Monitoring.

Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)




Implementing Entity



Sophie Seeyave