Brussels, 04 Aug 2003
Claudie Haigneré, French Minister for Research and New Technologies, has called for greater political commitment to connecting and expanding the disparate collection of Earth observation platforms around the globe.
Speaking at the Earth summit in Washington on 31 July, Ms Haigneré welcomed plans to establish an integrated international Earth observation system, noting that Europe has already illustrated its political commitment to such a strategy with the development of the global monitoring environment system (GMES).
'I think I speak on behalf of the European Union when I say that the political dimension of Earth observation has been recognised very early on [...] and this is why [the EU] got involved in the GMES programme,' said the minister.
The aim of GMES, a joint initiative between the European Commission and of the European Space Agency (ESA) and an area outlined for research funding in the Community's Sixth Framework Programme, is to develop, by 2008, an operational and autonomous European global monitoring capability for environmental and security purposes. It is expected that GMES will allow European researchers, private companies and public authorities to better monitor climate change, track environmental pollution, and react to emergencies.
However, Ms Haigneré added that the GMES programme does not simply focus on improving Earth observation for the benefit of Europeans alone. 'GMES is being developed, keeping in mind the need for as close a collaboration as possible with [Europe's] global partners so that everyone can benefit from the progress we are making,' she said, adding that such an approach is crucial if bilateral and multilateral links are to be set up to predict and manage Earth system cycles and processes.
In a declaration following the summit, delegates proposed the establishment of an intergovernmental working group with a view to developing a ten-year implementation plan for building an integrated Earth observation system. A framework for the plan will be presented at the next ministerial conference, to be held in Tokyo, Japan, in 2004.
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