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Unesco Interview: Mr. Robert Missotten – Chief of Earth Observation Section

In this issue of EOMAG, EARSC will have the excellent opportunity of
including an interview with Mr. Robert Missotten – Chief of Earth
Observation Section.

Mr Missotten could you please give us a summary of the UNESCO
involvement in GMES [Global Monitoring for Environment and Security]
and in GEOSS [Global Earth Observation System of Systems]?
Giving a background, the Group on Earth
Observations, GEO is the framework defining governmental needs, while
GEOSS is the implementation coming out of this political force. Mainly
GEOSS is an intergovernmental activity that leads to the global
establishment of environmental monitoring systems. In the other hand,
GMES is the European contribution to the GEOSS, delivering independent
European monitoring capabilities for the environment and for security,
not only from space but also from other airborne and in-situ
instruments. Every partner in GEOSS will deliver what it has and
develops and UNESCO being an active member of IGOS (Integrated Global
Observing Strategy) partnership will bring expertises together with
several programmes; Global Observing Systems focus on Climate (GCOS),
Ocean (GOOS), Terrestrial (GTOS) and Atmosphere (GAW) and the
experience in gained in Committee on EO satellite (CEOS) working
groups. Through its international and intergovernmental environment
programmes, the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the Man and
Biosphere Programme (MAB), The International Geoscience Programme
(IGCP) and the work of its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
(IOC) UNESCO contributes essential expertise to GEOSS in the field of
the integrated monitoring and management of the Earth System and its
resources. Close cooperation with GMES is being built in the field of
the study of hazards of geological origin and the mitigation of
Which are the main differences between IGOS and GEOSS?
follows an international agency approach which develops a strategic
planning process in order to achieve the necessary harmonization and
maximum cost-effectiveness for space and in situ observations, while
GEOSS is a country driven approach, definitively an important element
of national and global strategies for managing the natural resources in
a sustainable way.
Do you see new partnerships as a key to GEOSS?
During the third EO Summit in Brussels,
ministers from around the world endorsed a 10-year Implementation Plan
for the creation of GEOSS. That was very important because through
strong international and national cooperation, partners are poised to
build on and improve existing monitoring systems that will provide more
complete, accurate and accessible data and information to users and
decision-makers. UNESCO is looking forward to make use of its worldwide
educational, scientific, cultural and communication networks as well as
its high-level political and diplomatic contacts to strengthen new
partnership in GEOSS.
What are your
comments on the latest developments in the earth observation arena for
the service of the citizen? How will GMES and GEOSS be innovative in
the coming years meeting the expectations of the citizen?
Definitively GMES and GEOSS are
focused on the service of the citizen. Lots of achievements have been
done using Earth Observation but some of the key developments should be
improved and GEOSS will contribute to:
-the understanding, assessment, prediction, mitigation of disasters and adaptation to the climate variability and change,
-develop the capacity to improve weather forecasting and reduce loss of life and property from disasters,
-the understanding effect of environmental factors on human
health and well-being, and to protect and monitor ocean, water, energy
and land resources
GEOSS and GMES will not only advance our
knowledge through research, but more importantly stimulate the
emergence of new services to improve the quality of life of the
In your opinion how industry could be involved in GEOSS as active partner?
The private sector could work in
partnership with government to contribute data to GEOSS. GEOSS being an
operational system, the private sector provides unparalleled technical
expertise to help guide the design and development of the system.
Industry will be a major user of the GEOSS capabilities and therefore,
must have the opportunity to determine new sector-specific requirements
(e.g., agriculture, transportation, management of natural hazards…)
Industry will be a major provider of new services with will be
beneficial to the civil society.
Are there any specific issues you find important for UNESCO addressing the GEOSS working groups?
Inside GEOSS, UNESCO is facilitating
activities that enhance international education, training, data
analysis and applications in EO techniques though a very specific
working group ….Industry must begin its planning and preparation to
ensure that their systems are consistent and personnel prepared to
capitalize on the opportunities that GEOSS will provide in the future.
UNESCO will contribute to a better understanding of the planet earth,
its environment and resources by stimulating an enhanced cooperation
between scientists and engineers of industrialized and developing
On EARSC behalf and personally I would like to thank you for time on this interview.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization, UNESCO
thanks to the synergy between diverse stakeholders that together form
an international community. These communities include governments,
National Commissions, Parliamentarians, NGOs and associations. Among
them we also find the media, schools, cultural and scientific
institutions, private sector partners and the United Nations family of
institutions. Interesting to EARSC is that
additional important partners to UNESCO are also the space agencies,
space research institutions and academia.
all these stakeholders give life to UNESCO‘s ideals and values around
the world, at the local, national and international level.