G-8 Summit Affirms GEOSS

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Image of G8 logo consisting of eight flags in a circleThe G-8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit address on global climate change specifically recognized “the growing demand for Earth observation data” and pledged to “accelerate efforts within the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)”, an endorsement welcomed with enthusiasm by the global Earth observation community.

Much of the world media has focused on the announcement by the summit, held July 7-9 in Japan, that global greenhouse gasses must be reduced by 50 percent by 2050, a timetable considered by many critics to be without concrete strategies for success. But the GEOSS was among other initiatives singled out by the G-8 as an area of agreement.

The GEOSS “builds on the work of UN specialized agencies and programs, in priority areas in, among other things, climate change and water resource management, by strengthening observation, prediction and data sharing,” the report said.

The GEOSS focus is on nine areas of societal benefit:

‰Û¢ Reducing loss of life and property from natural and human-induced disasters.

‰Û¢ Understanding environmental factors affecting human health and well-being.

‰Û¢ Improving management of energy resources.

‰Û¢ Understanding, assessing, predicting, mitigating, and adapting to climate variability and change.

‰Û¢ Improving water resource management through better understanding of the water cycle.

‰Û¢ Improving weather information, forecasting, and warning.

‰Û¢ Improving the management and protection of terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems.

‰Û¢ Supporting sustainable agriculture and combating desertification.

‰Û¢ Understanding, monitoring, and conserving biodiversity.

In his special address at the G-8 Summit, Japan’s Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Yasuo Fukuda said the eight world superpowers also must “support capacity building for developing countries in Earth observations and promote interoperability and linkage with other partners.”

GEOSS is a key to providing information to make the right decisions, said Dr. Jay Pearlman, Chair of the IEEE Committee on Earth Observation (ICEO). In its support of GEOSS, the ICEO recognizes that the lack of capacity in Earth observation and information technology in developing nations increases their vulnerability to environmental disasters such as typhoons and droughts and to failures in assuring adequate clean water and food.

To address these and other critical areas, the G-8 nations committed $6 billion (US) in new monies to support the growth of capacity in developing nations, while saying that most of the investment has to come from the private sector.

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