2nd GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Workshop
GEOSS: Supporting Science for the Millennium Development Goals and Beyond
Bonn, Germany, August 28—31, 2012
Session P1: Science of the MDGs and Global Sustainability: Identifying Future Goals, Targets and Indicators
Conveners: Anantha Duraiappah, Rick Lawford
This session will introduce the MDGs and the challenge of global sustainability, and it will give an overview of major science issues that need to be addressed in order to support progress towards the MDGs and global sustainability.
The session will address six questions:
- Q1. The terms MDGs, SDGs and Global Sustainability Goals have been used quite loosely and inter-changeable in the discourse on the post-2015 development framework. Are the three terms similar, different, complementary or conflicting? And what are the implications for setting goals, targets and indicators and the data needs?
- Q2. The world is getting much more closely inter-connected and inter-dependent; therefore most of the goals and targets are inter-linked. How can we develop goals, targets and indicators in a manner that acknowledges these inter-connections—some complimentary and others with trade-offs? Do we and can we develop a conceptual framework that might capture these system dynamics and identify the data information required?
- Q3. How do we develop global goals, targets and indicators that capture explicitly the need for collective action to achieve these targets and how do we resolve the dichotomy between the principle of universality and the principle of subsidiarity and its implications for data collection?
- Q4. How will spatial and temporal scales across the natural and socio-economic sciences impact the development of a post-2015 development framework and how will this influence the data and information needs? For example, how will data on global environmental indicators as suggested by planetary boundaries reconcile with local, national and regional environmental indicators and subsequently the link with the socio-economic targets, and indicators?
- Q5. What will be the main challenges in reconciling the data and information needs from the natural and socio-economic systems to ensure comparable concrete, quantifiable and time bound goals, targets and indicators?
- Q6. What will be the main steps for the scientific community to take in order to contribute to the post-2015 development framework process initiated by the UN?
Session P2: Research for MDGs and future earth sustainability
Conveners: Steven Wilson, Heide Hackmann
The goal of this session is to provide and overview of the many scientific communities that are carrying out research in support of progress towards the MDGs and/or meeting the Grand Challenges. The Future Earth Initiative is among those. The session will introduce the main stakeholder groups. It also will be an opportunity for these communities to feature their research as it relates to global sustainability.
Session P3: Earth Observations in Support of Research for the MDGs and Global Sustainability
Conveners: Ghassem Asrar, Carol B. Meyer, Sybil P. Seizinger
In many cases, research needed in support of the MDGs and the Grand Challenges depends on Earth observations. The session aims to describe the most relevant Earth observations facilitating research in support of the MDGs, and identify the gaps that are major obstacles.
Session P4: GEOSS Strategic Targets and Their Alignment to MDGs and Global Sustainability Research
Conveners: Greg Withee
The development of GEOSS is guided by a set of Strategic Targets accepted by GEO. The session will describe the motivation and background for the Strategic Targets, report how they are used to monitor the progress of GEOSS towards these targets, and review to what extent these targets support directly or indirectly progress towards the MDGs and global sustainability research.
Session P5: GEOSS' support for MDGs and Future Earth Research
Conveners: Douglas Cripe, Georgios Sarantakos
By 2015, GEO will work towards achievement of the Strategic Targets for GEOSS
implementation. These Targets mainly concern the coordination and integration of Earth observing
systems and promotion of data access and use in support of informed decision making across
Societal Benefit Areas (SBAs) including Agriculture, Biodiversity and Health. The achievement of
these Targets is a further step towards addressing the challenges articulated by the 2002 World
Summit on Sustainable Development, including the achievement of the Millennium Development
This session will provide examples of how, within the best efforts, voluntary framework of GEO,
global partnerships and initiatives have been established in support of MDGs related to the
Biodiversity, Health and Agricultural SBAs such as: ending poverty and hunger; addressing child &
maternity health issues; combating HIV/AIDS; and sustaining the environment. Contributions that
GEOSS can make to other bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
will also be considered.
Finally, the presenters will demonstrate the importance of bridging social gaps (through Universal
Education and Gender Equality) in support of global partnerships as they work towards
achievement of both the Strategic Targets for GEOSS through 2015 and the MDG
Breakout Session B1: Environmental Sustainability and Poverty
Conveners: Alberto C. Riccardi, James Syvitski
Reducing and reversing environmental degradation and alleviation of poverty are urgent global issues, which have a lot in common. However, they are often treated separately. The breakout session will discuss these two related issues and aims to identify the information needs for a better understanding of the linkage between poverty and environmental degradation.
Relevant web pages:
- Poverty Environment Net: Poverty Environment Net is the leading index of poverty-environment knowledge and resources. This site is dedicated to sharing information and lessons gained from the beneficial relationship between environmental management and poverty reduction.
- Poverty and the Environment: Article by Anup Shah.
- UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative: The Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a global UN-led programme that supports country-led efforts to mainstream poverty-environment linkages into national development planning.
- Environment Poverty: A theme on World Poverty, a look a causes and solutions.
- IISD Poverty: Poverty and Environment - Addressing inequity for nature's sake
- World Resource Institute: Equity, Poverty, and the Environment.
- CIFOR: Poverty Environment Network: A comprehensive global analysis of tropical forests and poverty.
Breakout Session B2: Biodiversity
Conveners: Anne Larigauderie, Rob Jongman, Gary Geller
The first talk will briefly present the overall science-policy context for the Societal Benefit Area on Biodiversity, and for GEO BON, with a focus on the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 of the UN (implemented by the Convention on Biological Diversity) and IPBES, the new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. It will also present the GEO BON initiative.
It will be followed by 2 talks describing key activities of GEO BON: one on the effort to produce a set of EBVs, or Essential Biodiversity Variables (Rob Jongman), and one on building as part of GEO BON, a component on ecosystem services (Wolfgang Cramer).
Each speaker will be asked to identify challenges associated to the implementation of GEO BON. Participants will then be invited to consider these challenges, and to identify any additional challenge they see for the establishment of a science based global observing system for biodiversity and ecosystem services. These challenges will be included in a session summary as a contribution to the final report of the workshop.
Breakout Session B3: Poverty and Hunger
Conveners: nn, nn
Breakout Session B4: Food and Water Security
Conveners: Gordon Young, Anik Bhaduri
Considering the amplified interconnectedness of global food and water availability, to ensure food and water security calls for joint global responsibility and cooperation. Policy- and decision-making in “silos” needs to give way to an approach that reduces trade-offs and builds synergies across sectors — a nexus approach. The benefits of partnerships between the water and agricultural sectors have long been recognized due to the role of agriculture as the largest user of global freshwater. However, these partnerships have to be built on adaptive governance for water and food security which implies not only multi-scale polycentric institutional structures but also the timely provision and distribution of data needed to make informed decisions:
effective tools are needed to support decision-makers in acting more in a more timely and coordinated manner in response to risks related to water and food availability as well as to mitigate the impacts of water-related extreme weather events due to climate change that put further pressure on food availability and prices.
Earth observation is the basis to provide this information:
from global satellite data and in-situ time series at specific locations, over tools for accessing and using the data, to systems that integrate these data with other information — especially those of food price alert systems. These monitor global, regional and national agricultural commodity markets to be able to make efficient use of measures against the adverse effects of food price volatility such as buffer stocks or emergency food reserves. However, significant investment is needed as sufficient infrastructure for data collection and distribution does often not exist, especially in developing countries, impeding the ability to cope with variability and change. For existing data, a promising path to integrate earth observation and monitoring systems for agricultural commodities, is to identify new metrics and valid indicators that can be applied across sectors to assess interlinkages. Such new and innovative partnerships for effective governance have to recognize and take action with regard to the fact that water security underlies all dimensions of human well-being, and is fundamental not only to food production but is the basis for nutrition, health, energy and sustainable land management.
The Breakout Session B4 will address water and food security issues within the broader context of global security issues. The end-product of the session will be to produce recommendations on how best to incorporate earth observation monitoring systems into the management of water and food security.
- Issues of Global Security - Placing water security within the much broader context: the many elements of global security in a world of change and uncertainty
Water security is but one element within the general sphere of global security. It is set alongside many other security issues including:
- Global population explosion in less developed countries and in cities; population migrations
- Geo-political changes and re-alignments
- Unrest/warfare in many countries and regions
- Global terrorism
- Financial crises
- Health risks and vulnerabilities
- Climate change
- Sun spot activity, volcanoes, earthquakes
- Elements of water security
Diverse uses of water
Water as a threat
- Human well-being — health and food security
- Economic development (energy, industry)
- Social development (water for schools and hospitals)
- Water to sustain ecosystems
- Often the availability of water, in sufficient quantity and in appropriate quality, is insufficient for the demand; there is competition between the various demands and thus the need for Integrated Water Resources Management
- Water and food security
Clearly water is required for all types of food production whether for agriculture, livestock or aquaculture and fisheries; water may be required in different amounts and at different times of the year depending on the type of food production.
While water is essential for food security it is not the only driver of food production and distribution. Other elements include:
- Ownership of the food production process — dependent on political, economic and institutional set-ups — from large agri-businesses to small farm producers;
- Tariffs, subsidies, costs of transportation, regulations on imports and exports;
- Changing eating preferences — greater individual wealth often associated with change in food preference from vegetables to meat and poultry — these changes have enormous implications for water demand (include water requirements for differing food types here).
The geography of undernourishment — food security issues far greater in the less developed world than in more developed regions
Considering the amplified interconnectedness of global food and water availability, food and water security calls for joint global responsibility and cooperation. In this perspective, policy- and decision-making requires a nexus approach that reduces trade-offs and builds synergies across sectors. The benefits of such partnership between the water and agricultural sectors is not new, and it has long been recognized due to the role of agriculture as the largest user of global freshwater. This partnership has to be built on adaptive governance for water and food security based not only on multi-scale polycentric institutional structures, but also on timely provision and distribution of data that are needed to make informed decisions.
Effective tools are needed to support decision-makers in a more timely and coordinated manner in response to risks related to water and food availability, and mitigate the impacts of water-related extreme weather events due to climate change that put further pressure on food availability and prices.
Earth observation is the basis to provide such information: from global satellite data and in-situ time series at specific locations, over tools for accessing and using the data, to systems that integrate these data with other information — especially those of food price alert systems. The latter monitors global, regional and national agricultural commodity markets to be able to make efficient use of measures against the adverse effects of food price volatility. Significant investment is needed as sufficient infrastructure for data collection and distribution does often not exist, especially in developing countries, impeding the ability to cope with variability and change. For existing data, the challenge lies ahead to integrate earth observation and monitoring systems for agricultural commodities, and identify new metrics and valid indicators that can be applied across sectors to assess interlinkages. Such new and innovative partnerships for effective governance have to be recognized, and action taken with regard to the fact that water security underlies all dimensions of human well-being, and is fundamental not only to food production but is the basis for nutrition, health, energy and sustainable resource management.
- The role of Earth Sciences in underpinning the management of water resources (with particular emphasis on water as related to food security)
Understanding hydrological systems is clearly necessary to underpin effective water management. This includes understanding the following elements that influence the hydrological cycle:
- Climatic drivers — water and energy delivery in time and space — changes in these drivers over time — the differences between nival and pluvial regimes;
- Influences of topography from steep-sloped mountain regions to lowland flat-lands;
- Underlying geology — for aquifers and for soil development — (gravity measurements can be very useful in monitoring changes in aquifers over large regions);
- Vegetation development — with particular emphasis on human-induced vegetation changes;
- Sediment supply — particularly influenced by the creation of dams with resulting interruption of sediment supply;
- Earthquakes — with resulting landslides, avalanches, mudflows and tsunamis;
Volcanoes — with influences on climate — and with effects of melting snow and ice with catastrophic lahars etc;
- Cryospheric sciences for snow and ice influences on hydrology.
These elements are themselves interrelated; recommendations for their inclusion as related to water management should be developed.
Breakout Session B5: Health
Conveners: Gary Foley, Joerg Szarzinski
Environmental conditions have a significant impact on human health, both directly and indirectly through quality and safety of food and water, and the impact of environmental conditions on vectorborne disease, allerogens, and air quality. Changes in land use, ecosystems, pollution, and climate can fundamentally change the environmental stress on human health. The session will summarize the research needs to better understand the interactions between environment and human health and identify the observational needs. For the anticipated outcome of the workshop, it will be important to establish the following links:
- Environment, environmental changes (including climate change) and health
- Health and MGDs
- Health and Earth observations
Documents related to the Health Societal Benefit Area in GEO:
Breakout Session B6: Science-Policy-Interface
Conveners: Peter Haugan, Kathleen Fontaine, Hans-Peter Plag
This Breakout session will look at what GEO/GEOSS can do to help improve the science-policy or science-decision-making interface. We are in an era of unprecedented access to both scientific research-related and applications-related data and information, but along with that access comes challenges. The communication of science results and science assessment to policy makers and other decision makers, which today often happens through scientific literature which is often interpreted by science journalists, and through assessment reports, is an issue where many problems complicate the dialog, including the communication of uncertainties. A relevant question is what role GEO/GEOSS could play in this communication. An example is IPCC and the C2SE (http://www.c2es.org/), where the communication of the assessment is led by an organization other than the one that did the assessment. One question could be whether, in light of the processes followed by IPCC and others, GEO has a role in an Earth observations assessment process, and if so, what might that be? Another question is what infrastructure could help to improve/build a successful interface. In addressing the question of how and where the various communities access their data and models, it is often stated that there is a disconnect between the providers and the users. Is this the case? If so, why, and what steps could GEO take through GEOSS to reduce the disconnect?
Session P6: Synthesis of the Breakout sessions
Conveners: Stuart Marsh, Hans-Peter Plag
Session P7: The way forward
Conveners: Barbara Ryan, Kathleen Fontaine
This session will summarize the needs of the global sustainability research community in terms of earth observations and crystalize key points and recommendations into a declaration. This declaration should emphasize, and underpin, the need for coordinated, accessible, and usable Earth observations as seen from major S&T Stakeholders, i.e., the global sustainability research community.
Session P8: Towards an action plan
Conveners: Paola Campus, Jay Pearlman
The session will present and further develop a draft action plan based on the discussions during the previous plenary and breakout sessions. Taking into account the recommendations and possible actions for the Post-2015 period discussed in Plenary Session P7, the action plan will identify steps leading to a better alignment of the GEO Strategic Targets and the development of GEOSS to the Earth observation needs of global sustainability research supporting the Millennium Development goals and addressing the Grand Challenges identified by the Belmont Forum. The action plan will also provide a basis for the input to the Post-2015 GEOSS Working Group to be developed in Session P9.
Contributors to this Session should identify top-priority scientific and societal needs for the next three years (2012-2015) which are currently not sufficiently supported by GEOSS and indicate the stakeholders (e.g. Scientific groups, Policy Makers, International Organizations) who should be involved in the development and implementation of specific elements of the "near-term" Action Plan. Feasible ways to generate collaborations among the stakeholders (use of existing international agreements, Memorandum of Understanding, Bilateral Agreements, Consortia) should be considered along with existing difficulties in streamlining such processes.
Session P9: Preparing input for the Post-2015 Working Group
Conveners: Alan Edwards, Helmut Staudenrausch
The current vision for the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), as set out in the GEOSS 10Year Implementation Plan, is: “to realize a future wherein decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations and information.” The GEOSS represents the collective effort of the Members and Participating Organisations of GEO to monitor the Earth system, share and exchange Earth system data, and enable users to deliver useful information to society. But the work has just begun.
Since GEO was launched in 2005, the global challenges facing humanity continue to increase. As the recent United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”) demonstrated, global Earth observation data and information will remain vital inputs to decision-makers for developing and implementing effective sustainable development.
Recognising the continued critical need for global Earth observations, the 2010 GEO Beijing Ministerial Declaration stated: “We, the participants assembled at the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Ministerial Summit in Beijing, ..., 7. Resolve to meet before the end of 2013 to review the progress of implementation against the GEOSS Strategic Targets and the recommendations for the governance, role and future work of GEO beyond 2015 and to take the necessary decisions.
In the period 2005-2015, the activities of GEO are governed by the GEOSS 10-Year Implementation Plan and the Strategic Targets, and are detailed in the GEO Work Plan. When considering GEO post-2015, it is important to assess the relevance of these fundamental guidance documents of GEO in the post-2015 period. The output from this session will provide valuable input for the post-2015 GEO discussions.
The Workshop will provide valuable input to this session to stimulate the discussions on GEO post-2015. To provide a framework for these discussions, the participants are also asked to consider the following key questions:
- Evolution or Revolution: Does the System of Systems Concept Work?
- If yes, how should the GEOSS evolve post-2015?
- If no, then what is the revolution in Earth observations that has to be implemented post-2015?
- What issues have to be addressed?
- The current Societal Benefit Areas?
- New SBAs?
- Grand Societal Challenges?
- Global Initiatives?
- Where and how does Science and Technology fit into GEO, now and post-2015?
- What is it that GEOSS provides or should provide to Science & Technology?
- What does or can Science & Technology bring into GEOSS
- What is or should be the role of Science & Technology institutions/programmes in GEO?
- Where does Science and Technology fit into GEO post-2015?
The objective of this session is to explore concrete ways for injecting the outcomes of the workshop into the GEO Post-2015 discussion. Opportunities and actions need to be identified for stimulating GEO’s discussion and giving the contributions and needs of the Science & Technology communities an adequate voice in the further work of shaping the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.
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