GEO Commits to Unleash the Power of Open Data to Address Global Challenges

Mexico City, November 13, 2015

The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO)concluded its twelfth Plenary session and fourth MinisterialSummit in Mexico City with commitments to share data on Earth observations at a time of exponential data growth, human development and climate change.

Hosted by the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia(INEGI), the week-long conference was attend by more than 400 delegates from 41 GEO governments and 39 partner organizations, and included Ministers of Environment, Science and Natural Resources.

Major achievements include the adoption of a ten year Strategic Plan (2016 - 2025) and a Ministerial Declaration that focuses on harnessing critical environmental observations to enable leaders to make better-informed decisions for the benefit of humanity at a time of rapid global change.

Against the backdrop of the recent adoption of the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development and an anticipated global agreement on climate change, GEO launched several bold, new initiatives, including:

- A global Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), including an Arctic to Antarctic network linking coastal observing centers in the Americas to measure species distribution and habitat;

- AmeriGEOSS, a regional programme to share Earth observation data for agriculture; disaster risk reduction; water; and biodiversity and ecosystem monitoring;

- A new initiative to integrate Earth observations into national plans to attain the Global Goals for Sustainable Development; and

- Renewal of GEONETCast, an initiative of China, Europe and the United States to provide critical Earth observation data to developing countries.

Eduardo Sojo, President of INEGI said, “This is a unique event for Mexico to talk about the environmental politics of the world. We are pleased to be participating in GEO activities that will provide significant benefit to Mexico and the Latin America/Caribbean region.”

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said, "As we near the historic Paris climate talks, it’s clear open data and international collaboration are key to countries moving the needle on climate change. We can and should share Earth observation data to help address climate challenges because science and open data are critical to understanding land, water, wildlife & climate change. They must be at the heart of every policy decision - no country can solve it alone."

European Commissioner Carlos Moedas said, "We have reached a tipping-point where GEO has to move its focus towards successful societal delivery. We should not underestimate this formidable challenge. The European Union, through its Horizon 2020 and Copernicus programmes will continue to be a driving force to help GEOSS reach its full maturity – a GEOSS which is designed for and accessible by all contributors and all users."

South Africa's Minister of Science and Technology, NalediPandor, said, “Our responsibility is to ensure the targets of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development are met. We should not take science for granted. We need to provide adequate funding for scientific research and global collaboration.”

China's Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Dr JianlinCao, said, “We promote open access to data, knowledge and information. Data sharing is key for the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). As Co-Chair of the Asia-Pacific region, we will implement more activities to enforce GEO cooperation with other countries, such as capacity-building, data sharing, eco-environment, disaster monitoring and climate change observing.”

GEO welcomes new Members Ecuador, Kenya, Somalia, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe, bringing the number to 100 nations; five new Participating Organizations: the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (BSC), International Research Center on El Niño (CIIFEN), Future Earth, Research Data Alliance (RDA) and The World Bank (IBRD/IDA); and four new Observers: European Severe Storms Laboratory (ESSL), Inter-Islamic Network on Space Sciences and Technologies (ISNET), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UN Initiative on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM).

The Thirteenth GEO Plenary will be held in St Petersburg, Russia in November 2016.

For English-language media enquiries, please contact:

Katherine Anderson – Communications Manager, Group on Earth Observations
Tel: +41 79 404 8640  Email: kanderson@geosec.org

Robert J. Samors – Senior External Relations Manager, Group on Earth Observations
Tel: +41 79 257 8244  Email: rsamors@geosec.org

For Spanish-language media enquiries, please contact:

Vicente Amador – Head of Media, Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia (INEGI)
Tel: +52 55 52781064  Email: vicente.amador@inegi.org.mx

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO)
The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is comprised of 100 Member states, including the European Commission, and 92 Participating Organizations. GEO strives to improve the world’s observation systems and provide policy makers and scientists with accurate and useful data that can be used to make informed decisions. GEO’s primary focus is to develop a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to enhance the ability of end-users to discover and access Earth observation data and convert it to useable and useful information.

Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia (INEGI)
The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) is an autonomous agency of the Mexican Government dedicated to coordinate the National System of Statistical and Geographical Information of the Country. It was created in 1983. The institution conducts national censuses and performs statistical analysis.