GEO Week 2021 was held 22-26 November, and highlighted the many activities of the GEO work programme that address this year's major milestones linked to global policy agendas, such as the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

On Thursday 25 November, GEO Week 2021 focused on the use of Earth observations data to bridge the digital divide. As a part of this, GEO members presented examples of projects and initiatives being undertaken worldwide in order to facilitate full and open access to Earth observation data, thereby promoting policy development and supporting informed decision-making. Among the initiatives participating was GEO Mountains, represented by James Thornton, GEO Mountains Scientific Project Officer, and Carolina Adler, Executive Director of the Mountain Research Initiative and GEO Mountains Co-Lead. 

During their presentation, Thornton and Adler gave examples of GEO Mountains outputs. This included a summary of the GEO Mountains Inventory of In Situ Observational Infrastructure, which was developed with the aim of meeting the need for a persistent database into which information about in situ observatories and other infrastructure in the mountains of the world can be compiled, and via which associated datasets can be more easily discovered and accessed. The inventory was developed by GEO Mountains in close collaboration with the Mountain Research Initiative's Mountain Observatories and Elevation Dependent Climate Change Working Groups, and builds upon previous contributions made by the community under the now-superseded Global Network of Mountain Observatories (GNOMO).

Other presentations included Jesus San Miguel-Ayanz of the European Commission Joint Research Centre, who discussed the application of the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) for monitoring and tracking wildfires, and Krishnachandran Balakrishnan of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, who discussed the India Data Cube project and its goal of generating land cover, population, and development indicator maps at sufficient spatial and temporal resolution to meet the needs of policymakers. In addition, a session on Nature-based Solutions (NbS) highlighted GEO’s work on NbS to address societal challenges and mitigate ongoing environmental crises.

GEO Mountains' James Thornton also contributed to a side event on the GEO Knowledge Hub, which is a digital library where EO-based solutions developed by activities of the GEO Work Programme can be registered and made available as open knowledge, for replicability and scale-up in other regions of the globe.

The GEO plenary also adopted the Statement on Open Knowledge, which emphasizes not only the concept of open science, but also of open access, citizen and participatory science, open data, software, hardware, and diversity of knowledge and overarching goals of open knowledge.

During the plenary, the Mountain Research Initiative was delighted to be accepted to continue a next term as member of the GEO Programme Board.

A detailed outline of activities at GEO Week 2021 can be found on the IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin website. 

Watch Plenary Session 4: Bridging the Digital Divide with Data, Tools and Knowledge

For videos of more GEO Week 2021 events, please see the GEO website. 


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