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Earth observations (EO) refer to data and information about the physical, chemical and biological aspects of our planet including remote sensing technologies, supplemented by Earth surveying techniques.


It involves monitoring and assessing the status of, and changes in, the natural and human-constructed environment.

Earth observations are collected from many different sources, such as biologist’s notes of plant or animal sightings; measurements of temperature and wind speed at weather stations; floating buoys for monitoring ocean currents; sonar and radar images; airborne photographs; and data collected by a multitude of instruments and sensors aboard satellites.



The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) community works together to:


• Advocate for Earth observations as an important and useful way to highlight irreplaceable resources that must be protected, made fully and openly accessible, integrated with other data sources and included within decision making processes to drive action;

• Partner with stakeholder communities and to foster long-term partnerships to address global and regional environmental and societal challenges; and

• Deliver data, information, and knowledge to enable informed public and commercial sector decisions, exchange of good practice, uptake of new technologies, and the creation of economic opportunities and sustainable development decisions and action.

Image by NASA
Image by NASA

What is GEO?



In 2016, three new Member Countries included: Uruguay, United Arab Emirates and Mongolia as GEO’s 101st, 102nd and 103rd Member Countries.

In the period from 2017-18 new Members included: The Royal Government of Cambodia and the Sultanate of Oman became the 104th and 105th  GEO Member Countries in 2017.


In 2019, three countries joined including: Sierra Leone, El Salvador and Guatemala. GEO’s membership now totals 108 countries that have agreed to the broad principles of open data sharing and have committed to GEO’s vision of a world informed by Earth observation data, information and knowledge.


Since 2016 GEO’s Executive Committee welcomed the following new Participating Organizations:


Since 2017-2018, GEO’s Executive Committee approved 20 new Participating Organizations. These organizations contribute to the work of Member Countries to support GEO’s vision and mission. Those Participating Organizations include:

This year, the newest Participating Organizations to join GEO include:


For more information, view the full list of Participating Organizations here.


In 2019 GEO announced a new category for commercial entities. The new GEO Associates category paves the way for commercial and non-governmental, not-for-profit and civil society organizations to join governments and international organizations as official collaborators of GEO. This new category reflects the growing engagement and contributions of diverse sectors in GEO’s Work Programme.


The approved GEO Associates include:

For more information, view the full list of GEO Associates here.

  • European Association of Remote sensing companies (EARSC)

  • Mountain Research Initiative (MRI)

  • Association of Geospatial Industries (AGI)

  • African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education English (ARCSSTEE)

  • Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN)

  • Global Flood Partnership (GFP)

  • Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT)

  • Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS)

  • World Health Organization (WHO)

  • World Ocean Council (WOC)

  • International Long Term Ecological Research (ILTER)

  • Logistic Management Institute (LMI)

  • Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)

  • African Climate Change Research Centre (ACCREC)

  • AGRHYMET Regional Centre

  • Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC)

  • Afriterra Foundation

  • Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE)

  • Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC)

  • Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS)

  • Conservation International (CI)

  • FrontierSI

  • Earthmind

  • Environment Pulse Institute (EPI)

  • EuroGeographics

  • Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD)

  • Global Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN)

  • IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

  • Higher Institute for Space Studies and Telecommunications (ISESTEL)

  • Radiant Earth Foundation

  • Resources for the Future (RFF)

  • Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)

  • The Paul G. Allen Philanthropies

  • United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC)

  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA)

  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

  • World Resources Institute (WRI)

  • World Food Programme (WFP)

  • Economic Community of West African States Commission (ECOWAS Commission),

  • Mercator Ocean International

  • The OpenGeoHub Foundation (OpenGeoHub).

  • Acclimatise

  • The Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF)

  • Beijing Piesat Information Technology Co.

  • Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri)

  • International Centre for Earth Simulation Foundation (ICES)

  • SpaceWill Info. Co. Ltd.



As GEO’s membership continues to grow and evolve, GEO’s Work Programme Activities, Initiatives and Flagships reflect the changing nature and growing importance of Earth observation data, information and knowledge to a wide range of applications and thematic areas.

In 2019, the GEO Programme Board underwent a comprehensive review process to assess the impact and effectiveness of the GEO Work Programme 2017-2019. They agreed on an ambitious plan for 2020-2022 to strengthen, scale up and support the GEO Work Programme around four types of activities:

GEO Foundational Tasks are specific, selected tasks that enable and support the work across all of the Flagships, Initiatives and Community Activities.


Foundational Tasks include:

   - Coordination of observing systems     - Implementation of technical and           policy components

   - Allow the sharing of data and other       resources in the Global Earth                   Observation System of Systems             (GEOSS).



GEO Flagships develop and provide services to well-defined user groups based on global policy mandates.


Flagships, once fully mature, exemplify GEO’s Vision of providing globally-coordinated observations in support of decision making at multiple levels.



GEO Initiatives allow Members and Participating Organizations to coordinate their actions and contributions toward common objectives, within an agreed, yet flexible framework. They develop and implement prototype services and work with users to understand their requirements and decision contexts. Initiatives may emerge as a maturation of individual Community Activities or as an integration of several activities.



GEO Community Activities enable GEO Members, Participating Organizations and others to cooperate flexibly in areas of common interest.


Community Activities may, for example, undertake consultations to define user needs, explore new frontier applications, demonstrate technical possibilities, or agree on observation protocols and data exchange.

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