South Africa to Chair Group on Earth Observations
News / 31 October 2018
South Africa is the new Lead Co-Chair of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) for 2019, stepping into the role previously held by the United States at GEO Week 2018 in Kyoto, Japan.
The function of the Lead Co-Chair is to preside over the GEO Plenary and Executive Committee, to maintain focus on the priorities for the year, and to work closely with and provide guidance to the GEO Secretariat to advance GEO’s mission. South Africa will lead alongside Co-Chairs from the United States, the European Commission, and China.
Stephen Volz of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) steps down from the role at GEO Week 2018, as Mmboneni Muofhe, Deputy Director General of South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), takes the reins to chair the GEO-XV Plenary.
On his tenure, Volz said “serving as Lead GEO Co-Chair during this year has given me the opportunity to get closer to the inner workings of our organization and develop a greater appreciation for the efforts and dedication it takes to execute a successful work plan in an organization that is voluntary in nature. The United States looks forward to continued collaboration with GEO under South African leadership in 2019.”
Mr. Muofhe has served on the South African delegation to GEO since 2005. Under his guidance, in 2019 the GEO community will prioritize engagement with the Global South in building a results-orientated Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), supporting global policy priorities through Earth observations and strengthening the sustainability of the GEO enterprise.
Mr Muofhe remarked “As GEO moves towards its 5th Ministerial in 2019, it is important to emphasize the diversity and inclusivity of its vision through the active engagement of the Global South. GEO can only be effective if all regions are contributors to this vision, particularly the youth and entrepreneurs located in the Global South. We envisage a results-orientated GEOSS as an enabling platform to this end.”
Supporting Mr. Muofhe in this role are the South African Department of Science and Technology Space science team and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA).
On the transition, GEO Secretariat Director Gilberto Camara said “I welcome the opportunity for closer engagement with South Africa and the African GEO caucus over the coming year, in line with our focus on increasing the value of Earth observation activities and services for low and middle income countries.”
Communications Manager, GEO Secretariat