GEO logo
         GEOSS Portal Button

GEO at a glance


The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) works to connect the demand for sound and timely environmental information with the supply of data and information about the Earth that is collected through observing systems and made available by the GEO community.

Fundamental to the progress of open science is the continued investment by governments and others, such as the Group on Earth Observations’ Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), in suitable infrastructures and services for data collection, analysis, preservation and dissemination.

G7 Science and Technology Ministers 2016 Communiqué

GEO’s Strategic Plan for the decade up to 2025 means GEO is positioned to unlock the power of Earth observations by facilitating their access and application for decision-making.

The GEO Work Programme 2017-2019 presents GEO activities which implement the Strategic Plan. Priorities and technical advice are given by GEO’s Programme Board.

GEO improves access to global Earth observation systems through GEOSS. The GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI) is managed through the GEO Secretariat, as well as CNR and ESA in Italy.  The GCI comprises both observing and information systems.

Broad, open data sharing policies and practices have been a key tenet of GEO since its inception. Governments have demonstrated tremendous increase in economic benefit when they adopt a free and open data policy, which has been demonstrated in the United States with the availability of free Landsat data, and in Europe with Copernicus. Open data policies can also improve social welfare policies and stimulate innovation.

GEO’s work is carried out by its community and relies on regular coordination to reinforce activities and engagement at the regional and national level. Regional Initiatives identify country-specific opportunities to develop Earth observation plans, reinforce Spatial Data Infrastructures and establish and support national GEO structures.

Access to Earth observation data is inequitable and GEO supports capacity building to increase technical and human capacity to acquire, share, store, maintain and fully utilize Earth observation data and information in the decision-making process.  Capacity building also helps demonstrate solutions, disseminate best practices showcasing the value of Earth observations and promote the engagement of institutional users worldwide.

Earth Observation for decision making

Society is facing unprecedented challenges for food, water and energy security; resilience to natural hazards is important; there are many unknown impacts of population growth; pandemics of infectious diseases are increasing; sustainability of ecosystem services is becoming more difficult; poverty and the development of a sustainable economy are also growing challenges. Climate change represents an overarching and cross-cutting challenge exacerbating all these issues. Earth observations are necessary not only to report and model climate change but also to calculate greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the Paris Agreement 2016 on Climate.

GEO champions global collaboration for improved application of Earth observations for the benefit of humankind. A global movement is underway in terms of Earth observation applications for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), measuring and mitigating climate change, and contributions to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). GEO partners continue to work together to enhance efficiency, non-duplication of efforts, identification of gaps and good environmental governance for sustainable resources.

GEO strengthens conservation, restoration and sustainable management of ecosystems through Earth observation data, contributing to the Convention on Biodiversity and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

GEO activities aim to achieve a substantial reduction of losses of life and property from natural disasters through disaster mapping and better mitigation and response, working on the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.

Fossil fuel energy use accounts for more than two thirds of greenhouse gas emissions. Earth observations can be used to increase the global share of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Renewable energy sources, in combination with energy efficiency, help limit a further rise in global temperature, in line with The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Paris Agreement.

Earth observations combined with other agricultural data contribute to crop monitoring to counter food insecurity, a commitment upheld by all states under Sustainable Development Goal 2, zero hunger.

Earth observations support for planning, monitoring and management of infrastructure (dams, roads, rail, ports and pipelines) and transportation (air, land and sea). EO to meet and measure Sustainable Development Goal 9, build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

Public health alerts on air quality, weather extremes, water-related illness, vector-borne disease, and assessments of access to health facilities are informed by Earth observations and help to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 on Good Health and Wellbeing.

We will promote transparent and accountable scaling-up of appropriate public-private cooperation to exploit the contribution to be made by a wide range of data, including earth observation and geo-spatial information, while ensuring national ownership in supporting and tracking progress.

Use of Earth observations in the development of resilient cities and assessment of urban footprints can promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity for all levels of human settlement. EO can foster national urban planning and show land change over time to support the Quito implementation plan for the New Urban Agenda.

The GEO community supports the accessibility and sustainable management of water resources and sanitation through the application of Earth observations for sound science-based public policies, modeling and data integration. Water is central to all aspects of life.

“Access to reliable data and statistics helps Governments to make informed decisions, and enables all stakeholders to track progress and understand trade-offs, and creates mutual accountability”.

Addis Ababa Action Agenda, 2015 paragraph 127.

“Data access alone, however, is not enough to fully realize the potential that data can offer… We should endeavor to ensure broad access to the tools necessary to turn data into useful, actionable information. We will support efforts to make data standards interoperable, allowing data from different sources to be more easily compared and used.”

Addis Ababa Action Agenda, 2015 paragraph 128

More information: