SA to drive the global earth observation agenda

March 19th, 2019, Published in Articles: PositionIT

South Africa became lead co-chair of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in November 2018 at GEO Week. The function of the lead co-chair is to preside over the GEO plenary and executive committee, as well as to set priorities for the year and work closely with the GEO secretariat to advance the group’s mission. South Africa will lead alongside co-chairs from the United States, the European Commission and China.

South Africa played a significant role in establishing GEO in 2005, and is a founding member. This followed the call for the development of an integrated earth observation system from the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in South Africa in 2002. South Africa has remained an active participant in GEO, and has supported GEO in its quest to implement the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

South Africa was able to establish its own national coordinating mechanism for earth observations (SA-GEO) with ten communities of practice under the National Earth Observation and Space Secretariat. These developments were informed by the Cabinet approval of the South African Earth Observation Strategy (SAEOS) in 2006. In 2012, South Africa conceptualised a new approach to enhance the participation of African countries in GEO, strengthen regional coordination through the establishment of the AfriGEOSS initiative. AfriGEOSS has set a precedent for GEO as other regions realise the importance of strengthening regional coordination by creating their own mechanisms such as AmeriGEOSS, Asia-Oceania GEOSS and EuroGEOSS, among others.

In 2019 the GEO community will prioritise engagement with the Global South in building a results-orientated GEOSS, supporting global policy priorities through earth observations and strengthening the sustainability of the GEO enterprise.

Contact SANSA, Tel 012 844-0500,

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