U.S. Official Cites Need for Comprehensive Earth Observation System (link)

December 4, 2003

Washington, 03 Dec 2003

U.S. Delegation to the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
December 1- 12, 2003 Milan, Italy

United States Intervention Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr.
Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Research And Systematic Observation (Agenda Item 7)

Mr. Chairman,

This has been a year to highlight the importance of systematic Earth observations as the basis for sound science, which in turn should be the basis for decision support tools and sound policy. And not only highlight - this has been a year to begin to do something about improving the coordination of systems and minimizing data gaps.

Earth Observation Summit

The United States was pleased to host on July 31 the Earth Observation Summit, as well as the first meeting of the Group on Earth Observations on August 1 and 2. The Earth Observation Summit was intended to build a partnership among countries to address a key need and thus marked an important milestone in the development of a comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained Earth observation system or systems. Thirty-three nations and the European Commission adopted a Declaration that signifies a political commitment to move toward development of a comprehensive system that would empower decision makers to monitor continuously the state of the Earth, increase understanding of dynamic Earth processes, enhance prediction of the Earth system, and further implement international environmental treaty obligations. Ministers from developed and developing countries seek through their agreement to increase timely, quality, long-term, global information, which can serve as a basis for sound decision making for the benefit of society.

While the focus of such a comprehensive, coordinated Earth observation system would be broader than climate, the climate community should benefit immeasurably from the greater coordination, interconnectivity, and capacity intended. Such a system is essential for a wide range of priority applications; for example, for management of agriculture, forestry, water, ecosystems, energy resources, disaster reduction, and sustainable development.

The text of the Declaration of the Earth Observation Summit is available at the U.S. exhibit.

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US Department of State

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