Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES)

November 15, 2005

Brussels, 14 November 2005

Natural and manmade catastrophes in Europe, America, Asia and Africa, coupled with increased security needs, have further reinforced the case for improved monitoring systems. Global monitoring for environment and security gathers relevant earth observation data, for example concerning environmental pollution, floods, forest fires or earthquakes, and supplies them in reliable and user-friendly services in support of public policy makers’ needs. In short: GMES ensures that crisis situations can be better anticipated and managed. GMES is an EU-led initiative, in which the Commission will manage related actions for identifying and developing services and the European Space Agency will manage the implementation of the space segment.

Europe needs to have available a capacity which allows it independently to evaluate its policy responses. A comprehensive Earth observing system using space borne and in-situ techniques (land, air and sea) through well defined operational services, is key to ensuring sustainable and high quality environmental and security monitoring.

Start with emergency management, land monitoring and marine services

GMES will be developed in steps starting with three fast track services (land, marine, emergency) by the end of 2008:

  • 1. The Emergency Management service aims to reinforce the European capacity to predict and respond to crises and emergencies associated with natural and man-made disasters such as:
  • meteorological-driven hazards, e.g. storms, fires, floods;
  • geophysical hazards, e.g. earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides
  • technological disasters, whether deliberate or accidental, e.g. urban fires, chemical accidents on industrial sites
  • humanitarian disasters generated by sudden natural, technological and weather driven disasters.
  • 2. The Land Monitoring service will deliver timely, important information on land use and land cover changes for a number of identified areas at European, national and local scale. In the short to medium term the proposed service will focus on mapping of land cover and land use for Europe’s:
  • spatial development perspective
  • urban environment strategy
  • implementation, review and monitoring of EU policies.
  • 3. The proposed Marine Services will provide data, information products and indicators on the marine environment. The objective is to provide general information, structured at the European level, on the condition of the seas, including:
  • their monitoring
  • indicators for global and regional mapping of ocean climate and variability,
  • operational ocean analyses and forecasts (e.g. ocean current, temperature, salinity fields);
  • operation, validation and maintenance of in situ observing networks.
GMES at the service of the EU

GMES will substantially increase the ability of geospatial information to support a variety of EU policies:

  • monitoring global climate change and the environmental commitments made within the EU and globally to control its causes;
  • the security of European citizens at Union level, through for example border surveillance, civil protection, and internal security,
  • Common Foreign and Security Policy, including European Security and Defence Policy, development aid and humanitarian assistance, and
  • agriculture, regional development, fisheries, transport.
Some concrete examples include:

  • in agriculture: the area acreage checks and agri-environmental measures,
  • in fisheries: the Vessel Monitoring and Vessel Detection systems,
  • in external relations: the Rapid Reaction mechanism,
  • in environment: natural hazards (eg forest fires, floods, tsunami response) and global climate change monitoring,
  • in development: policy water, vegetation and food security monitoring activities.
Background Information on GMES

Following a recommendation to the Council of 15 May 2001 in Gothenburg: “The Community should contribute to establishing by 2008 a European capacity for global monitoring of environment and security”.

Currently demand for Earth observation services in Europe is still fragmented albeit growing. On the supply side, Europe has developed world class assets and expertise. However, observing systems are run independently and coverage is incomplete; many satellites, in particular, are experimental and cannot guarantee the required quality and continuity of measurement to provide the basis of operational services now or in the future. While our international partners are investing heavily in the development of capacities for global monitoring, Europe is still working with different national capacities and different national standards.

In the short-term, GMES will draw on existing in-situ and space-based observing capacities developed by EU and ESA Member States. In the longer-term, investments will be made in the deployment of new capacities.

A continuous dialogue between stakeholders will be maintained and GMES will support the implementation of INSPIRE (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) which will contribute to the harmonisation of geospatial information at pan-European level. GMES will be an essential tool to increase interoperability of national systems, hence fostering the development of adequate European standards.

GMES will constitute a growing element in the EU’s bilateral relations with international partners. It will be developed taking into account the activities of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). With its federating role, GMES will be the main European contribution to the global 10-year implementation plan for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

GMES brings the appropriate support to the EU’s security needs, providing authorities with necessary elements for a European Security and Defence Policy. All possible civil and military synergy should be pursued to ensure a better use of resources.

GMES will provide important support for environmental monitoring and assessment and contribute to the implementation of the Shared Environmental Information System being developed by the Commission and Member States.

GMES will stimulate economic growth by creating innovative added value services. It has been selected as one of the quick start projects in the Commission’s Initiative for Growth. GMES should stimulate the industrial sector to expand its service offer and to develop the innovative observing, communications and information technologies that will be required, creating opportunities for increased private sector usage of information sources. The European industrial base will be an important asset to maintain a European autonomous capacity and political independence in decision making.

Item source: MEMO/05/420 Date: 14/11/2005 Previous Item Back to Titles Print Item

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