The Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

Canberra Declaration

Canberra, Australia 8 November 2019

We, Ministers of GEO Member s and Ministerial representatives, convened the 2019 intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Ministerial Summit in Canberra, Australia on 8 November 2019. We note with appreciation the valuable contributions made by other attendees at our Summit, including representatives of new and existing Members, Participating Organizations and GEO Associates. We:

  1. Reaffirm the status of GEO as a voluntary and non - legally binding intergovernmental partnership. Highlight GEO’s unique global role in driving cooperative action and decision making by Members enacting upon our vision of a world where decisions and actions are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations.
  2. Welcome the ongoing work of the GEO community to deliver its mission by developing a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) that connects and integrates the Earth observation efforts of each nation for the benefit of humanity.
  3. Welcome the progress made to implement the GEO Strategic Plan 2016 - 2025, endorsed at the 2015 GEO Ministerial Summit in Mexico City. Recognise the success the GEO community has had in driving progress in the policy areas we highlighted, including expanding the use of Earth observations to address sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and climate change.
  4. Note that in addition to the priority engagement areas currently being given special attention, we maintain our strong support for the broader goal of GEO to ensure Earth observations deliver benefit to all sectors of society.
  5. Recognise the GEO Report on Impact 201 6 - 2019, which showcases the depth and breadth of GEO’s activity and impact, including the GEO community’s responsiveness to emerging policy issues such as land degradation, urbanisation and mercury pollution.

Under the Summit theme of ‘Earth Observations: Investments in the Digital Economy’, we:

  1. Recognise that Earth observations play a critical role in driving productivity and sustainable economic growth, and that investments made in the acquisition and use of Earth observations deliver a substantial return on that investment to our economies and communities. Welcome GEO’s ongoing work to demonstrate new opportunities to use Earth observation s in key sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and resource extraction.
  2. Note that as Earth observations and associated technology become increasingly integrated into our economies, there is an increasing need to connect GEO to the work of key global and regional economic cooperation forums. Welcome the Asia - Pacific Economic Cooperation ’s recent acknowledgement of the importance of Earth observations.
  3. Highlight that the digital economy is generating opportunities to fully integrate information on the current and forecast state of the Earth into all aspects of decision making, from national strategic planning, through to day - to - day actions of individual businesses. Resolve to work, individually and through GEO, to encourage use of Earth observations in an inclusive digital economy that promotes sustainable economic and social development. Encourage the broader GEO community to do the same.
  4. Reiterate the critical role that full, secure and open sharing of Earth observations data and knowledge will play in deeper integration of Earth observation technologies into the digital economy. Encourage governments to increase free access to Earth observations created using public resources.

Noting the opportunity to strengthen the voices of developing island nations in GEO’s governance, we:

  1. Welcome new Members from the Pacific and other island nations to the GEO community, and recognise the significant capabilities they have to offer.
  2. Emphasise the importance of GEO being inclusive of these countries with their significant and increasing exposure to disaster risk, climate change and sustainable development challenges.

To ensure the benefits of Earth observations are felt at regional, national, sub - national levels, and to the level of individual communities and businesses, we:

  1. Recognise and further encourage the proactive efforts of the GEO community, including space agencies, to make Earth observation s collected from space ready for analysis and easier to use through artificial intelligence, data analytics and visualization technologies.
  2. Recognise the critical role that data collected from the atmosphere, land and water (in - situ data) plays in achieving GEO’s mission, but note that sharing of such data is limited and there remain significant gaps in the global observing system. Call upon the GEO community to develop a strategy to address the challenges in this area and to demonstrate progress in implementation.
  3. Welcome the creation of the Regional Groups on Earth Observation s as a formal part of the GEO structure that enable s governments to benefit from the work of GEO while collaborating to tackle common challenges.
  4. Highlight that GEO ’s ability to deliver on its vision will be enhanced by growing its engagement with the private sector: leveraging the observations the private sector collects, and partnering in developing and delivering sustainable products and services that meet the needs of individual governments, businesses and communities. Encourage ongoing efforts to deepen and learn from GEO’s engagement and partnerships with the private sector, and welcome the creation of the GEO Associate category and the approval of the first Associates.
  5. Resolve to highlight opportunities for the private sector to leverage GEO’s work, and encourage the GEO community to do the same. Emphasise the need to create opportunities for small - medium - micro enterprises to leverage Earth observations given their ability to create new jobs and develop solutions that meet specific local needs and priorities.

To fully realise the benefits of Earth observations for all countries, and developing countries in particular, we:

  1. Highlight the need for the GEO community to accelerate its work to build on the capacity of all countries to exploit Earth observations. Resolve to enhance our efforts to help one another to develop institutional capacity to promote the use of Earth observations for national benefit.
  2. Encourage governments with official development assistance programmes to consider how these programmes can support greater use of Earth observations at all levels and across all sectors. Note the need for all such efforts to be driven by the priorities and needs of recipient countries, and in collaboration with international financial institutions.

With respect to GEO’s future work and the implementation of the GEO Strategic Plan 2016 - 2025, we:

  1. Welcome the GEO community’s commitments to the new GEO Work Programme 2020 - 2022.
  2. Continue to encourage the GEO community to fully implement the strategic plan, taking account of the above challenges and opportunities, noting the need to promote a diverse and inclusive GEO community, and highlighting the importance of robust, stable, sustained and continually improving Earth observation systems as the foundation of GEOSS.
  3. Acknowledge the need for GEO to be proactive and responsive to Members’ needs for Earth observations that help them achieve their respective goals. Highlight, in particular, GEO’ s increasing efforts in the areas of land, water, atmosphere, biodiversity, and climate monitoring, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable development, including as relevant and appropriate, actions related to the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  4. Recognise the value of greater use of Earth observations in official statistics programs, in support of national and international reporting processes. Resolve to work to enhance collaboration between the Earth observation and official statistics communities, including within the United Nations system.
  5. Recognise the central role that we, as Members, play in supporting and enabling the work of GEO and its broad community. Resolve to scale-up our support for the delivery of GEOSS and other elements of the strategic plan, noting the return these investments deliver to our environment, economies and communities.
  6. Acknowledge, with gratitude, all investments ma de in GEO, including new contributions announced during our Summit and GEO Week 2019 and published on the GEO website.
  7. Call upon the broader GEO community to redouble its efforts to communicate the value of Earth observations and engage more contributors to GEO’s work.

We resolve to reconvene in four years to assess GEO’s progress towards the goals, objectives and priorities that we establish ed in Canberra and in GEO’s Strategic Plan, and to consider new challenges and themes to guide consideration of GEO’s future beyond the term of the current strategic plan.


Download Canberra Declaration here or visit more GEO Week 2019 Outcomes here