Interview with Mr Vittorio PRODI, Member of the European Parliament
In the next issue of EOMAG, EARSC had the opportunity to discuss with the Member of the European Parliament Mr. Vittorio PRODI some topics relevant for the European Earth Observation Inital Operations programme
GMES, an European earth observation programme
Given the recent findings that called for increased monitoring of climate change impacts, the importance of the regulation on the global monitoring for environment and security (GMES) is further stressed. The data that has been produced by previous monitoring has in fact, either been not complete enough (with regard to parameters), or it has not been available in a continuous manner.
In order to do so, GMES is comprised of three key components:
First of all, the Space: a space observation infrastructure which addresses service data needs, specifically through land, atmospheric and oceanographic parameters, with the aim to develop and implement a number of satellite missions known as the Sentinels; the component relying on coordination by the ESA.
Secondly, the In Situ component (including ground-based remote sensing observations): this relies on a number of facilities, instruments and tools which are owned and operated at national, regional and intergovernmental levels.
The third component, moreover, are the Services, which should ensure access to information covering various thematic areas, from climate change adaptation and mitigation, to security, and land, marine and atmospheric monitoring.
I deem this proposal as an important tool to respond to the increased research and civil protection needs, given the seriousness of global warming effects on the environment.
This regulation will provide us with the means to gather precise data on land, sea and atmosphere changes. Examples of measurable indicators include elements such as ocean salinity or biomass moisture, and sea levels.
Furthermore, there are beneficial effects with regards to our capacity to prevent and manage major disasters, i.e. oil spills, forest fires, floods and landslides. GMES is also a crucial element for ETS management and emissions control.
It has been necessary to prioritise the financial strategy between the three components of the programme bearing in mind that the funding architecture foresees the intervention of National governments and other public and private bodies mainly for the in-situ and services component.
Another element of appreciation comes from the potential spinoffs of the programme for SME growth, especially in the research sector, in a moment of economic crisis. Moreover, the European industries are the ones setting the standards for GMES, with evident beneficial effects on their competitiveness in the global market.
On the international cooperation side, clear mention of GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) should be given in the regulation text, considering that part of the funding requested for the implementation of GMES goes as contribution to this world monitoring system to which EU has officially subscribed.
Furthermore, I think that the information technology sector´s involvement will certainly grow, given the particular relevance for satellite technology.
The only serious concern is related to the funding structure of the space component : this regulation only covers financial needs for the period 2011-2013. However, the ESA commitments for the launch of the “Sentinel” satellites require precise and timely preparation and imply huge expenses for the actual launch, planned for the 2014-2017 period. For this period, decisions as regards the financial perspectives have not been taken yet.
Consequently the project will be faced with uncertainties in a transitional phase (January -December 2014) during which no funds will be allocated, while the space purveying industries involved will nevertheless have to be paid for the services delivered.
A solution will have to be found in this respect.
Vittorio Prodi (born on 19 May 1937 in Reggio Emilia) is an Italian politician and Member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and sits on the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, Subcommittee on Human Rights, Delegation for relations with the Mercosur countries.
-Graduate in physics (University of Bologna, 1959); lecturer in nuclear measurements (1970). University lecturer and researcher in leading national and international institutes; associate professor in the Physics Department of the University of Bologna (since 1983).
-Chairman of the Provincial Council of Bologna (1995-2004); member of the provincial representation of the Conference ‘State – Cities – Local Governments’ and of the ‘Unified Conference’ (State, Cities, local governments and Regions) (2001-2004).
-Author of numerous publications and of five international patents.
Speeches in plenary