Strategies for Earth observation: 18th CEOS-SIT meeting at ESRIN

On 21 and 22 March 2006, the Strategic Implementation Team (SIT) of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) will be holding its 18th meeting at ESA's ESRIN in Frascati.

Members of CEOS-SIT include the some of the most important space agencies in the world NASA, NOAA, ESA, JAXA of Japan, ISRO of India and CONAE of Argentina. CEOS was set up in 1984 under the auspices of the G-7 group to coordinate space agency programmes in the field of Earth Observation. ESA chairs the CEOS SIT (Strategy Implementation Team) for a two-year period, until November 2007, with the meetings of SIT chaired by Dr. Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation at ESA.

The 18th meeting of the CEOS Strategic Implementation Team (SIT-18) is characterised by a very busy agenda. Three major items will be addressed: the response of space agencies worldwide to the needs of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the implementation of the space components of the 2006 work plan of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and the long-term future of CEOS in its role as the primary mechanism for carrying out the GEOSS Implementation Plan on a timescale of ten years and more.

The 10-year implementation plan of GEOSS was developed by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) an international body comprised of more than sixty countries worldwide together with some 30 plus international organisations such as CEOS, WMO, UNESCO and the UN Environment Programme. It will provide politicians and decision makers with the tools to implement environmental and sustainable development policies in an integrated international approach.

The 2006 plan involves the use of Earth Observation in all nine societal benefiting areas addressed by GEOSS, including natural disasters, energy, health, weather forecasting, climate and sustainable development and maintenance of biodiversity. It also includes the dissemination of collected data.

In particular, the proposed SIT response to the Climate needs of GEOSS and GCOS is crucial in preparation for the next meeting of COP-12 (Conference of the Parties) / MOP-2 within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in November 2006 in Nairobi.

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