New GEOSS Information System Strategic Goals and Implementation Plan

GEO is constructing GEOSS based on cycles of 10-year implementation plans—the first plan covered the last 10 years, from 2005 to 2015, while the new period has just started and will end in 2025. Each implementation plan defines a vision statement for GEOSS, its purpose and scope, expected benefits, and a set of targeted "societal benefit areas."

The SBAs recognized by the new GEOSS implementation plan are (GEO 2016) (1) biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability, (2) disaster resilience, (3) energy and mineral resources management, (4) food security and sustainable agriculture, (5) infrastructure and transportation management, (6) public health surveillance, (7) sustainable urban development, and (8) water resources management.

The new plan builds on the following actions:

To implement the "GEOSS data sharing principles": GEO recognizes that the societal benefits arising from EOs can only be fully achieved through the sharing of data, information, knowledge, products, and services. GEO has therefore promoted fundamental principles for data sharing, expanding the trend toward open data worldwide. Thus, as it embarks on its second decade, GEO now aims to implement the following GEOSS data sharing principles:

Data, metadata, and products will be shared as open data by default, by making them available as part of the GEOSS Data-CORE without charge or restrictions on reuse, subject to the conditions of registration and attribution when the data are reused.

Where international instruments, national policies, or legislation preclude the sharing of data as open data, data should be made available with minimal restrictions on use and at no more than the cost of reproduction and distribution.

All shared data, products, and metadata will be made available with minimum time delay.

To implement the "GEOSS data management principles": To further maximize the value and benefits arising from EO data, GEO will continue to work with partners to promote the use of data management principles, which are based on discoverability, accessibility, usability, preservation, and curation. These principles address the need for common standards and interoperability arrangements. This will ensure that data and information of different origin and type are comparable and compatible, facilitating their integration into models and the development of applications to derive decision support tools.

Stakeholders' engagement: A key tenet of GEO's vision is that EO data should serve societal needs. The value of these data is fully realized when it is transformed into useable knowledge and information to address societal needs. GEO will therefore convene key stakeholders across the provider-user spectrum to codesign a process to systematically identify and document EO needs for addressing specific problems within the scope of the SBAs. Recognized stakeholders include

United Nations agencies, treaties, and conventions GEO members and participation organizations Communities of practice Private sector

GEO engages with stakeholder communities and acts as a broker, connecting users, data providers, engineers, scientists, and other relevant experts to create solutions to global challenges that transcend both national and disciplinary boundaries. Drawing on these partners, which encompass government departments, the private sector, civil society, and academia, GEO will implement a set of core functions essential for the realization of its strategic objectives (GEO 2016). The present strategic plan for implementing GEO considers the following core functions:

Identifying user needs and addressing gaps in the information chain

Sustaining foundational observations and data

Fostering partnerships and mobilizing resources

Advancing GEOSS and best practice in data management and sharing

Implementing sustained global and regional services

Cultivating awareness, building capacity, and promoting innovation


These actions are implemented through four instrument types:

  • 1. GEO community activities: They allow stakeholders to cooperate flexibly in a bottom-up fashion and with a low initiation cost.
  • 2. GEO initiatives: They allow members and participating organizations to coordinate their actions and contributions toward a common objective within an agreed, yet flexible framework.
  • 3. GEO flagships: They allow members and participating organizations with a policy-relevant mandate to spin up a dedicated operational service serving common needs and/or well-defined user groups.
  • 4. GEO foundational tasks: They allow GEO to implement selected, often enabling, tasks to achieve the core functions' objectives. For instance, two foundational tasks are devoted to operate and evolve the GCI, while a dedicated task is building the GEOSS knowledge base.

To achieve its strategic objectives, GEOSS needs to be interdisciplinary, drawing on natural, economic, and social sciences and work with stakeholders to answer research questions and communicate recommendations for implementing solutions. Thus, for issues such as climate change, food security, water availability, and ecosystem services sustainability, it is increasingly recognized that we need to develop an integrated multidisciplinary approach to advance our understanding of the complex relationships between environmental and social phenomena (GEO 2009).

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