Group on Earth Observations
Address: 7 bis, Av. de la Paix, Case postale 2300, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland
Stakeholder group: NGOs and associations
The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is a global collaboration dedicated to understanding our Earth in all its complexity. As a collaborative intergovernmental body, GEO is dedicated to co-producing user-driven Earth Intelligence solutions. By collecting and sharing vital information, ranging from satellite images of forests to oceanic temperature readings and beyond, GEO provides a comprehensive view of our planet’s well-being, allowing us to monitor and safeguard its health. These are not just datasets; they’re the tools that inform decisions, shaping policies and initiatives worldwide that guide society towards a sustainable future.
Our planet faces challenges that don’t stop at borders. From the pressing issues of climate change, and the alarming loss of biodiversity, to the widespread pollution affecting our lands, skies, and seas, there’s much at stake. While the challenges are integrated, the global response often remains fragmented. Among the ever-growing flood of information and data sources, there’s a noticeable gap in cohesive global partnerships. This is where GEO steps in, striving to unify these fragmented efforts and championing inclusivity in seeking holistic solutions for global challenges.
At GEO, we serve as a collaborative platform where science, policy, and community interests unite for the greater good.
Enhanced coordination: Building on our unique role to lead the development of integrated Earth Observation (EO) solutions, we focus on coordination from global to local levels, sharing beneficial practices and building capacity.
Broad engagement: We actively engage with youth, indigenous communities, women, and other groups to amplify voices whose potential to contribute to EO solutions has not yet been fully realised.
Transformative programmes: Our strategic work programme activities generate high-added value towards policy goals, support sustained services for decision-making, build capacity, and advance equity.
Inclusivity: We are committed to increasing engagement and building capacity, especially in the global south. There is a call to fully address and embed equality, diversity, and inclusivity (EDI) principles in all GEO undertakings.
Digital policy issues
GEO recognises that the societal benefits arising from EOs can only be fully achieved through the sharing of data, information, knowledge, products, and services. Ever since its inception, GEO has been a strong advocate for broad and open data-sharing policies and practices (Open Earth Observation Data). The Data Sharing Principles (2005-2015) inspired a few members and participating organisations to evolve from restricted data policies to Open Data approaches. Data sharing was also recognised as one of the greatest successes of the first GEO decade. Embracing the international trend of Open Data, GEO principals endorsed a new set of Data Management Principles. These principles promote ‘Open Data by Default’ and address the need for discovery, accessibility, usability, preservation, and curation of data.
To enable Indigenous peoples to equitably participate in and benefit from data creation, application, and stewardship within contemporary data environments, the GEO Indigenous Alliance advocates for the implementation of CARE (collective benefit, authority to control, responsibility, ethics) with FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) principles. The CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance are people- and purpose-oriented, reflecting the crucial role of data in advancing Indigenous innovation, and self-determination. These principles complement the existing FAIR principles encouraging open and other data movements to consider both people and purpose in their advocacy and pursuits.
GEO leads global initiatives that explore our planet’s ecological health, climate challenges, disaster readiness, resource optimisation, urban sustainability, and public health priorities. By integrating EOs with global frameworks like the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, GEO demonstrates our commitment to fostering a healthy, sustainable, and resilient world.
Driven by the post-2025 strategy, Earth Intelligence for All, GEO is committed to co-producing actionable insights with and for our diverse user base.
The GEO Work Programme is the primary instrument to encourage collaboration among our members, participating organisations, associates, and other partners. It aims to fulfil GEO’s mission and vision by addressing information needs in various fields where EOs play a crucial role.
Digital tools and initiatives
The current flagship programmes in the GEO work programme are GEO Land Degradation Neutrality, GEO Biodiversity Observation Network, GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring, the Global Forest Observation Initiative, and the Global Observation System for Mercury. To facilitate access to EO applications, we are developing the GEO Knowledge Hub, a digital library. Ministers and ministerial representatives adopted the Group on Earth Observations 2023 Cape Town Ministerial Declaration on 10 November 2023. The Declaration endorses the GEO post-2025 strategy Earth Intelligence for All, charges GEO with developing an implementation plan to guide the execution of the strategy, and reaffirms the integral role of young people as catalysts for sustainable development, among other statements.
GEO assists countries in its region in addressing sustainable development challenges. The vision of the GEO Indigenous Alliance is to protect and conserve indigenous cultural heritage by using EOs science, data and technology to create a knowledge base that sustains the Earth we live on.
GEO has developed a series of tools and initiatives to promote the use of EOs as evidence for decision-making.
- GEO Knowledge Hub
- Earth Observations Risk Toolkit
- Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO-BON)
- The Global Forest Observation Initiative (GFOI)
- The Global Observation System for Mercury
- Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative
- AfriGEO: The African Group on Earth Observations
- AmeriGEO A Framework for Advancing Data Driven Decision Making
- AOGEO (Asia-Oceania Group on Earth Observations)
An important convention (not necessarily covering digital issues directly, but relevant)