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EARTH OBSERVATION
Europe's Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Program Examined
by Staff Writers
Brussels, Belgium (SPX) Mar 02, 2012


This special SWF program invited specialists to examine the current status of GMES, challenges facing the program, and future opportunities. In addition the overall relevance and importance of GMES was detailed by panelists.

Collecting environmental information about the present and future of home planet Earth is of critical importance. Space-based systems can help to appreciate how our planet and its climate are changing, the role played by human activities in spurring any global variations, and how such changes might influence our daily well-being.

Now under active discussion is the European Union's (EU) Global Monitoring for Environment and Security - or GMES program. It is a project to establish a European capacity for Earth observation services, focused on an array of needs - from food and health security to environmental and political security.

Secure World Foundation (SWF) brought together leading experts on GMES to participate in a thought-provoking panel discussion. The conversation was moderated by Agnieszka Lukaszczyk, European Program Manager, Secure World Foundation.

The event, "The Future of GMES" was held February 17 as part of SWF's Brussels Space Policy Round Table series. These are panel discussions focused on significant global space events with a particular emphasis on Europe and its space sector.

Assuring the right actions
This special SWF program invited specialists to examine the current status of GMES, challenges facing the program, and future opportunities. In addition the overall relevance and importance of GMES was detailed by panelists.

A central element of the conversation was the use of GMES to assure the right actions by decision makers, businesses and citizens, to enable reliable and up-to-date information on how our planet and its climate are changing.

As now envisioned, the sustainability of the GMES operational services is to be ensured through public funding from the EU, intergovernmental agencies, and Member States. Considered as "public goods" these services should be accessible to any organization or citizen.

Among hot-button issues discussed during the round table is the European Commission's proposal that the GMES should not be included in their next Multi Financial Framework (MFF).

Rather, it has been proposed that GMES be funded from outside. This view has sparked contentious debate within the European community as to whether or not GMES can survive if not funded by the MFF.

As expressed by panelists, it is important to raise awareness about GMES to the policy makers and the European community at large. At stake is the prospect for a sustainable, long-term and reliable stream of GMES data and services, information of value to international efforts on Earth observation.

Informative conversation
"As difficult as the GMES discussion is, SWF is proud to be a part of continuing and deepening that dialogue," said Dr. Michael Simpson, SWF's Executive Director.

"It may turn out that having to face such a difficult issue less than two years after the Lisbon Treaty entered into force will enhance the EU's ability to deal with the particularities of cost/benefit decisions involving the space sector," Simpson said.

SWF's Lukaszczyk noted that the GMES panel discussion was one of the Foundation's most successful events in Brussels, in terms of attendance and the level of discussion. "The informative conversation illustrated just how important this topic is to the European community."

As a flagship EU space program GMES deserves the attention of those who will determine its future, Lukaszczyk added. "Discussion must continue on GMES and pro/con views for the program must be heard, as the final decision will have consequence of the highest magnitude on the European space program and beyond. SWF is delighted to have helped in this conversation."

For a view of the presentations from the event, please go here.

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