Umbrella document adopted by IGOS Partners at their second meeting in November 1998, and up-dated as required.
The Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) unites the major satellite and ground-based systems for global environmental observations of the atmosphere, oceans and land in a framework that delivers maximum benefit and effectiveness in their final use. It is a strategic planning process, involving many partners, that links research and operational programmes as well as data producers and users.
IGOS focusses specifically on the observing dimension of the process of providing environmental information for decision-making. This includes all forms of data collection concerning the physical, chemical and biological environments of the planet, as well as data on the human environment, on human pressures on the natural environment, and on environmental impacts on human well-being. It must be recognized that such data collection is not an end in itself. Data only become useful when they are processed and assessed to become information products, which in turn increase scientific understanding and guide early warning, policy-setting and decision-making for sustainable development and environmental protection. The observing strategy must therefore also fit into a broader global strategy to assess the environmental data and deliver information products to users. It recognizes that data collection must be user driven, but does not go into detail on the "downstream" information activities, which are covered by complementary strategic processes.
Conceptually, IGOS is based on the simple recognition that the range of global observations needed to understand and monitor Earth processes, and to assess human impacts, exceeds the scientific, technical and financial capability of any one country. Hence cooperation is necessary. Such cooperation should give partners a clear understanding of the overall needs and of their respective roles, so that they can address priorities without either duplicating or omitting issues. As such IGOS does not replace the bottom up scientifically driven approach to individual concerns, but rather provides the overall framework against which progress can be measured.
Whenever an activity involves multiple actors in different institutional and geographic frameworks, integration becomes a major challenge. An activity as complex as observing the essential features and processes of the global environment requires processes of integration at many levels. Satellite missions and instruments require many years of planning, while continuity and coherence need to be assured between national space programmes. Observations of the state of and trends in planetary processes cut across land, air and oceans. National programmes need to be fit into larger international frameworks, since the environment does not stop at national boundaries.
At a time when resources are scarce, funding agencies want to avoid all risks of duplication and wastage, and to get the maximum return for their investment. Governments and international organizations have naturally been concerned that programmes that originated quite logically at many times and places in response to different needs should not remain fragmented and uncoordinated where synergies are possible. It is particularly apparent that both a strategic framework and a planning process are needed to bring together remotely-sensed and in situ observations, from both research and operational programmes. For all these reasons, an integrated global observing strategy is a natural development.
IGOS is a results-oriented process to ensure
that reliable environmental data are available to document significant
global environmental parameters and processes, at appropriate scales in
time and space, to support environmental assessment and decision-making
processes, and operational information requirements, in order to improve
human welfare and to reduce risks from environmental degradation.
The potential advantages for an IGOS all basically stem from the benefits that can be realized from improved international cooperation and coordination. These benefits arise from the impossibility of any single nation providing itself with all its needed observations either because of costs in the case of space observations or logistically in the case of many in situ observations. The need for cooperation between data-provider agencies also arises from the fact that contemporary data products often require the integration of multiple observations from multiple sources.
The Integrated Global Observing Strategy unites the major satellite and ground based systems for global environmental observation for the atmosphere, the oceans and the land in a framework that delivers maximum benefit and effectiveness in their final use.
A fundamental issue for an IGOS is the identification of what it can contribute that cannot be achieved through existing national and international mechanisms. In short, the added value of an IGOS has to be demonstrated. Ultimately, IGOS will be judged by whether it enables better observations to be derived in both a more cost-effective and more timely fashion. To succeed it has to build upon current successes, thus recognizing that there are existing programmes which already provide integration, and that these could be regarded as the basic existing core of an IGOS. De facto they are the current set of priority activities.
Basic principles of an IGOS are that it should:
- provide a framework for a coherent set of user requirements so that providers can respond to them;
- be an overarching strategy for global observations, allowing those involved in their collection to improve their contributions, and to make better decisions in the allocation of their resources to meet their own priorities, by taking advantage of better international collaboration and coordination;
- facilitate the most effective use of the resources available for global observations, directing them to the priority needs to upgrade existing or establish new systems;
- provide a framework for decisions intended to provide long term continuity and spatial comprehensiveness for key observations;
- provide a framework for decisions that will result in the scientific research needed to improve understanding of Earth processes;
- build upon the strategies of existing international global observation programmes and focus additional efforts in areas where satisfactory international arrangements and structures do not currently exist;
- build on existing international structures that successfully contribute to current global observations rather than create a centralized decision-making organization;
- provide Governments with improved understanding of the need for global observations through the presentation of an overarching view of current system capabilities and limitations;
- be helpful in efforts to reduce unnecessary duplication of observations;
- provide opportunities for capacity building and assisting countries to obtain maximum benefit from the total set of observations;
- stimulate the creation of improved high level products by facilitating the integration of multiple data sets from different agencies and national and international organizations;
- identify situations where existing international arrangements for the management and distribution of key global observations and products could be improved;
- assist the transition of systems from research to operational status through improved international cooperation.
In striving to respond to these principles, contributions to an IGOS should provide:
- long term continuity of measurement for key variables;
- adequate data archiving and access capability for all data sets;
- consistency of data quality where there are disturbances to the record, e.g. due to new technology;
- sufficient ancillary data to enable users to judge the data quality.
The overall conceptual structure of IGOS can be described as follows (Figure 1):
- External scientific, social, economic and political needs at international and national levels must drive the strategy.
- The first stage in the IGOS process is to assess the requirements for observations given these priorities. Simultaneously, the capabilities of existing and planned observation systems need to be evaluated.
- Bringing together the assessment and evaluation shows what needs to be changed.
- Commitments to change then have to be obtained from implementing agencies, both national and international. This phase is critical to the overall success of IGOS.
- Changing the observational systems then follows. This may result in the deployment of improved observational assets, or more frequently may result in alterations in the way data are collected and processed to create enhanced products better able to satisfy requirements.
- Products are then put to use.
- Accompanying the use should be a further stage of product monitoring and analyses to ensure that the observations are being acquired as planned and meet requirements as expected. This then forms a feedback loop for further evaluation of the capabilities of observational systems.
In summary, an IGOS must provide the framework that will enable suppliers to respond to requirements that have been set by users. It must involve processes that will determine deficiencies, enable resources to be garnered to remedy such deficiencies, and be capable of improving not only the observational assets but also the various stages through which observations are turned into useful products. Finally there must be a process by which the products and observations are monitored and analyzed to ensure they are fulfilling their goals.
Implementation of an IGOS necessarily means that many activities must be carried out in an integrated manner. However, certain activities involve very discrete and agency specific decisions that do not involve integration. For example changes in observing capabilities are an agency decision.
The current status of the level of integration of certain elements of IGOS is as follows:
- Assessment of data requirements and assessment of satellite capabilities are strongly integrated.
- Assessment of deficiencies, calibration and validation, and data and information provision are moderately integrated.
- Rectification of observing deficiencies is only weakly integrated at present.
It is most likely that some of these should be more closely integrated. It is however inevitable that many of these can conceivably only be quite modestly integrated. A remaining question is therefore what is the desirable level of integration and whether this is sufficient to ensure an effective implementation of an IGOS
There are a number of components to IGOS that have considerable strategic importance, cutting across all observing activities. Each of these will need to be developed as a major thrust of IGOS as it proceeds.
Observations from space and locally in situ are complementary and mutually reinforcing. Remotely sensed images can only be interpreted reliably with adequate ground truthing. Measurements in situ can seldom be carried out with the density and geographic spread necessary to generalize them over large areas, without the benefits of large-scale measurements that remote sensing can often provide. The two approaches to environmental observations need to be developed in close collaboration. The IGOS Partnership represents leading groups on both sides, and will work to strengthen collaborative mechanisms
Because of the strategic and technological interest in space exploration and the industrial momentum behind it, space-based environmental observations have been racing ahead of ground- or ocean-based observing programmes, creating an imbalance prejudicial to both. The in situ observing community is also more fragmented and less well organized then the space agencies through CEOS. IGOS needs to emphasize the importance of reestablishing the necessary balance between the approaches through increasing support to in situ observing activities and their coordination.
Outside of a few fields like meteorology, most environmental observations have been collected by scientists as part of research programmes. Such programmes are designed to answer specific research questions, and are generally funded for a few years at most. Yet many global environmental issues involve changes over decades and centuries, time scales that exceed the usual duration of budgetary cycles, development plans, scientific research programmes, and individual careers. One of the challenges of integrated global observations is to institutionalize them in operational programmes committed to building the necessary long-term time series of comparable and reliable data. This may require stimulating the establishment of new institutions mandated as permanent environmental observatories, or equivalent arrangements.
Access to data is a continuing problem for many users. There are many reasons given for restricting or refusing access to environmental data, ranging from national sovereignty and military security to trade secrets and fear of criticism. In recent years, the demands for cost-recovery, the growing commercialization of data providers, and the spread of intellectual property rights to data that were once freely exchanged, have brought further complications. One component of IGOS will need to be work on widely shared policies for data access and exchange that allow the most effective use of environmental observations while respecting essential interests in the data.
One of the most neglected aspects of environmental observations is the proper archiving of environmental data to allow comparisons and to build long-term time series. Such archiving must include ensuring the physical security of the data; storing them in media that will not deteriorate over time or become inaccessible due to evolving technologies, and transferring them to more secure and accessible media before they become unreadable; documenting the data with the necessary metadata to allow its future interpretation; and building catalogues and other access tools to facilitate finding and retrieving data as required. Scientific data are particularly vulnerable when they are held by individual researchers and never transferred to permanent institutional custody.
The percentage of environmental data that cannot be used outside their local context, if not be considered completely worthless, because of lack of harmonization of methodologies, poor quality assurance, or inadequate calibration and validation, is probably frighteningly large although very difficult to estimate. Such data problems are probably the greatest source of waste and error in observing programmes. A significant investment in these unglamorous areas would be highly cost effective. IGOS should work to build the highest standards of data quality and comparability.
Within the overall structure of an IGOS, each of the individual stages in the conceptual structure can be examined, and the activities needed in each stage for the implementation of an IGOS can be elaborated. The activities of each stage are described below (Figure 2):
- Assess requirements: Establish a consensus on the requirements for observations meeting specific information needs. Define products which will respond to these needs and then the observations necessary to generate these products.
- Evaluate the current capabilities of observational systems: Consider product specifications and then evaluate the capabilities of current systems against the assessment of requirements.
- Decide what needs to be changed: Analyze the requirements and the capabilities in order to isolate deficiencies in observational systems. Prioritize implicitly or explicitly amongst the many deficiencies that such an analysis will reveal. Set priorities for enhancements to the existing capabilities.
- Obtain commitments for changes: Based on the priorities for change, establish the commitments to obtain such changes. These commitments will be made independently by the relevant national or international organizations.
Change the observational systems:
Deploy new observational assets: Individual agencies should agree to develop, deploy and maintain new assets, either in terms of satellite based or in situ systems.
Enhance the product processing chain: Make improvements through better exploitation of existing assets. Change the acquisition strategy or make other changes in the product processing chain, such as in Calibration and Validation, data access and networking, the assembly of data sets, improving data archiving and product generation.
Monitor and Analyze products and information services: Determine whether or not the resultant observational systems are operating satisfactorily and meeting their objectives through continuous monitoring and analysis, which feeds back into the evaluation of current capabilities.
Lines of communication and dialogue must
be established with the principal groups and institutions that use global
environmental information for decision-making. An iterative process of
refinement should narrow requirements to the minimum data flows necessary
to support decisions cost effectively. These user groups include:
Each user group has different requirements
both for the content and form of presentation of environmental information,
that need to be addressed specifically within the strategic framework.
Efforts often need to be directed to helping user groups to define and
articulate their requirements.
The development and implementation of the
Integrated Global Observing Strategy is supported by a partnership
among space agencies grouped in CEOS, the sponsors of the Global Observing
Systems, the programme offices of the Global Observing Systems, major national
funding agencies grouped in IGFA, and two major international research
programmes, IGBP and WCRP. Additional partners will be welcomed.
The Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) was created in 1984 in response to a recommendation from the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G-7) Working Group on Growth, Technology and Employment. It brings together some 20 national space agencies and 18 associates, and aims to achieve international coordination in the planning of satellite missions for Earth observation and to maximize the use of data from these missions worldwide. A delegation consisting of the CEOS Chairman, the previous and next CEOS chairs, and the Chairman of the CEOS Strategic Implementation Team (SIT), represents CEOS at IGOS Partners' meetings.
of the Global Observing Systems (G3OS):
The sponsors of the Global Observing Systems formed a Sponsors Group for the Global Observing Systems, including the G3OS programme offices, in 1997 in order to ensure a continuing close synergy and enhanced information exchange among the three Global Observing Systems (GCOS, GOOS and GTOS), and to develop a common strategy toward their implementation and their application. The Sponsors Group is a mechanism for joint discussion of IGOS issues, and its members are all partners in IGOS.
IGFA is an informal grouping of national research funding agencies. The objectives of IGFA are to exchange information on national global change research programmes, supporting programmes and facilities; to discuss approaches to the integration and phasing of global change research in the light of available resources; to promote the coordination of access to and deployment of specialized research facilities; and to aim to optimize the allocation of national contributions to global change research.
The IGBP of the International Council for
Science (ICSU) describes and studies the interactive physical and biological
processes that regulate the Earth system, the unique environment that it
provides for life, the changes that are occurring, and how they are influenced
by human actions. It has established an integrated multidisciplinary research
programme consisting of eight Core Projects: past global changes; international
global atmospheric chemistry; biospheric aspects of the hydrological cycle;
global change and terrestrial ecosystems; land-use and land-cover change;
land-ocean interactions in the coastal zone; joint global ocean flux study;
and global ocean ecosystem dynamics. These are linked with three Framework
Activities: global analysis, interpretation and modelling; a data and information
system; and a system for analysis, research and training.
The purpose of the WCRP, which is jointly supported by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, is to develop the fundamental scientific understanding of the physical climate system and climate processes needed to predict climate variations on scales from seasons to centuries, and to assess the extent of human influence on climate. The programme encompasses studies of the global atmosphere, oceans, sea- and land-ice, and the land surface which together constitute the earth's physical climate system. The scientific priorities of the WCRP are established by its Joint Scientific Committee in concert with the international climate research community. Implementation of the programme is effected through a Joint Planning Staff in Geneva and five International Project Offices and draws together national scientific activities to provide a global perspective on aspects of the climate system which would otherwise not be available.
A single origin for the Integrated Global Observation Strategy is impossible to identify, since it represents the convergence of several processes. As the number of national agencies launching satellites increased, it became necessary to create the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). As the concern for global change raised broad research questions about the planetary environment, integrated research programmes like the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) were launched. As the need grew for global-scale operational observations of the oceans, climate and land surface, the three Global Observing Systems (G3OS) were established. Each of these was initially a quite separate activity.
Integrated global systems of space and in situ environmental observations began with the World Weather Watch of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1962. In 1969, WMO established the Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network (BAPMon), which with other systems eventually became the Global Atmosphere Watch. Then, at the time of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972, plans were laid in the scientific and international communities for a more comprehensive Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS). This "Earthwatch" became one of the responsibilities assigned to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in its catalytic and coordinating role in the United Nations system. However, despite success in particular areas like water pollution (GEMS/Water) and urban air pollution (GEMS/Air), the resources were never available to develop a truly global system for monitoring the environment.
Within the last decade, with the rapid evolution of technologies for environmental observations and the political acceptance of the importance of global environmental problems, a set of Global Observing Systems, integrating in situ and remotely sensed data, were planned and launched. These are the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), each focussing on one of the major compartments of the biosphere. The United Nations General Assembly and UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 confirmed the importance of environmental observations and called for the strengthening of Earthwatch, and UNEP established an Earthwatch Coordinator for this purpose. This has provided a mechanism, with the inter-agency Earthwatch Working Party, for joint strategic planning on environmental observations and assessments across the whole UN system.
Preliminary steps toward an integrated global observing strategy were taken in connection with an environmental initiative undertaken by the UK Prime Minister in early 1992. At that time, an initial paper-based CEOS database of all existing and planned space-based Earth observation activities was developed by the British National Space Centre. This database, while rudimentary, did contain the first assessment of the extent to which requirements were being met and served as the source for a document which was produced and distributed at the UNCED meeting in Brazil in 1992. Based on this and years of subsequent work, the WMO and the European Space Agency jointly developed a database encompassing the user requirements and space observing system capabilities, which is available on the Internet.
Spurred by the formulation of complementary concepts in Japan and the United States, as well as within the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), for composite global observing systems that would integrate space-based and in-situ observations, the October 1995 CEOS Plenary in Montreal organized a sidebar discussion by proponents of these various concepts, with EUMETSAT also making a presentation. A CEOS sponsored ad hoc meeting was held in Seattle in March 1996, which focussed on the space component of an Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS). Later that year in September a meeting was sponsored by the three global observing systems in Geneva on the development of an IGOS for in situ observations. It was agreed to call IGOS a strategy, not a system, since several systems already existed and IGOS would in reality be the collective of existing and new systems.
At the CEOS Plenary in Canberra in November 1996, a decision was made to set up two parallel activities. One, the Strategic Implementation Team (SIT), was to set up prototype projects to demonstrate the value of an integrated approach. It was composed of senior-level managers responsible for programmes and budgets addressing user requirements in the context of integrated activities. The other activity, an Analysis Group, was to carry out an improved analysis of the relation between capabilities and requirements.
The Strategic Implementation Team (SIT) first met in Irvine, California in February of 1997, where six projects were set up. It has subsequently met on a regular basis, after receiving from the CEOS Plenary an annual renewal of its mandate. The Analysis Group met in Darmstadt, Germany in March 1997, Tokyo in July 1997 and in Silver Spring, Maryland in September 1997. As a result of these activities, an analysis group report, a document scoping the IGOS and a paper defining the concept of an integrated global observation strategy have been produced as a framework for IGOS. As the Analysis Group had concluded its mission, it was disbanded at the CEOS Plenary in 1997.
In parallel, a 1995 review by UNEP Earthwatch of the three Global Observing Systems (G3OS) recommended that an integrated strategy for all the systems be developed. After discussion in the Earthwatch Working Party in January 1996, a Sponsors Group of FAO, ICSU, UNEP, UNESCO and its IOC, WMO, GCOS, GOOS, and GTOS was established in October 1996 to develop a common strategy for the three global observing systems. It met in January and September 1997, endorsed the concept of an IGOS, and produced an integrated strategic plan for the global observing systems as a contribution to IGOS.
The two processes converged in September 1997 with a CEOS/IGFA invitation to the Sponsors Group to develop a partnership on IGOS, and a reciprocal invitation for a CEOS representative to participate in the Sponsors Group discussion of IGOS that month. The G3OS strategic plan was then presented at the CEOS Plenary in Toulouse in November 1997 along with the SIT report. This led to joint working meetings in March 1998 and to the First IGOS Partners Meeting in June 1998, where a continuing IGOS Partnership was established bringing together CEOS, IGFA, the G3OS and their sponsors, WCRP and IGBP. The role of the G3OS was further recognized when their joint space panel accepted to be the controlling body for the requirements of the CEOS affiliates. This task broadens the role of the panel as a key link in implementing IGOS. The Second IGOS Partners Meeting in November 1998 adopted this umbrella document as the framework for additional components of the strategy, including a space component and an in-situ component, to be developed over the next year. The IGOS Partners continue to meet two times a year to pursue the implementation of IGOS.
The IGOS Partnership adopted terms of reference and has been formalized by an exchange of letters among the partners. It provides a continuing mechanism to oversee the IGOS process, with meetings arranged among the partners twice a year in association with CEOS Plenary sessions and meetings of the Sponsors Group for the Global Observing Systems. This strategy is a product of that partnership and will be updated and refined as necessary by the partners. The high level of institutional representation in the partnership ensures that recommendations and consensus positions resulting from IGOS Partners meetings will have an impact on programme development.
An IGOS Liaison Group has been established to provide some continuity in secretariat support between meetings and to follow up with agreed actions.
The breadth of activities and institutional structures covered by IGOS encourages the use of modular approaches to specific components, elements or processes that need to be integrated. The three Global Observing Systems are one example of this approach, as are the different CEOS working groups. The prototype projects were also designed to demonstrate particular aspects of IGOS.
A whole series of modular subsystems and components need to be developed or strengthened for the complex set of observing processes to function effectively. Since a chain of information flow is often only as effective as its weakest link, one function of the IGOS Partnership is to review the overall functioning of the strategy in order to identify where efforts to strengthen the process will have the greatest effect.
The CEOS Strategic
Implementation Team, at its first meeting in February 1997, decided
to approach IGOS in a practical way by initiating some prototype demonstration
projects, intended to show the benefits of an integrated strategic
approach. Six initial IGOS implementation projects were selected: Global
Ocean Data Assimilation Experiment (GODAE); Upper Air Measurements; Long-term
Continuity of Ozone Measurements; Global Observation of Forest Cover; Long-term
Ocean Biology Measurements; and Disaster Management Support. Each addressed
a specific issue for an integrated observing strategy, required a defined
set of tools, associated a wide set of partners, and was expected to produce
specific products or results to demonstrate the IGOS concept. They would
then cease to be IGOS prototype projects, although the activities would
hopefully continue as part of integrated global observations.
The 3rd IGOS Partnership meeeting, held in Rome in June 1999, agreed to proceed by identifying themes which, because of their timeliness, could be assured of sufficient support to guarantee results within a short time-scale. The same meeting accepted that a start by made on an Oceans theme, and Partners were encouraged to bring further theme proposals for consideration at the 4th IGOS Partnership meeting to be held in Stockholm in November 1999. The demonstration projects are being integrated into appropriate themes as they are developed.
Most environmental observations are in fact collected by national governments through their agencies, ministries and research programmes, and their commitment will be essential to the effective implementation of IGOS. Building support for and participation in IGOS processes at the national level will need to be one of the major activities under IGOS as it develops.
Identification of gaps to be filled and activities to be strengthened will be one of the continuing functions of IGOS, and the mechanisms put in place under IGOS should have this as one principal function. This function will be assisted by the Global Observing Systems Space Panel (GOSSP).
The IGOS is at a critical stage in formulation. It can remain a planning tool to enable providers to set out their own programmes independently, or it could attempt to define the priorities for action. The latter implies more top down pressure on scientists than has hitherto been the case and may be impractical. Relating the activities to political drivers will however be a key factor in IGOS.
The strategy process cannot at this point identify with any degree of specificity the roles that various existing organizations should play, nor can it yet propose new structures where there are no existing organizational structures. Such questions will follow naturally from agreement on the principles and the nature of the processes occurring with an IGOS. On the basis of this general agreement, a next step will be to use existing and, as necessary, new structures to achieve the continuing implementation of the IGOS.
Throughout the IGOS process there is a real need to promote awareness on two fronts, namely:
- The value of implementing IGOS and hence the need for resources to be made available at a relevant level;
- The benefits arising from the infrastructure that follows an IGOS in terms of its contribution to meeting the political objectives that have been set to improve the way we understand and manage the Earth.
No one agency can take responsibility for this promotion and it is incumbent on all to promote the value and need in a coherent way. This will hopefully result in resources being made available and additional countries and agencies seeing the benefit of the strategy.
IGOS is not a strategy for observing the global environment sitting in splendid isolation. It is one component in a larger strategic framework of information for decision-making most recently mapped out by the international community as a major cross-cutting issue in Agenda 21. In the follow-up to UNCED, continued strategic planning has developed in the reports to and work of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and in the UN System-wide Earthwatch, among others. International organizations have global observation components in their institutional strategies. IGOS should therefore be situated in relation to these complementary strategies, from which some key points are summarized below. These are further developed in strategy documents prepared through these other processes.
Chapter 40 of Agenda 21 on Information for Decision-making emphasized the need to bridge the data gap through strengthening data collection activities; coordinating and harmonizing the collection of data using continuous and accurate data collection systems; establishing a comprehensive information framework; strengthening environmental assessment activities and coordinating them with assessment of development trends; assessing data using geographic information systems, expert systems, models and other data assessment and analysis techniques; developing indicators of sustainable development and their incorporation in common, regularly updated and widely accessible reports and databases for use at the international level; transferring data collection and assessment technologies to developing countries; and providing local communities and resource users with environmental and resource management information, including traditional information.
It also called for improved information availability through: transforming existing information into forms more useful for decision-making and targeting information at different user groups; achieving efficient and harmonized exchange of information at all levels, including through common data formats and communication interfaces; developing documentation about information, and networking and coordinating mechanisms; improving the sharing of information and experience involving all sectors of society; establishing and strengthening electronic networking capabilities; making use of commercial and private sector information sources; and making information available and accessible to developing countries.
An Integrated Global Observing Strategy should pay particular attention to global environmental issues that have received high priority in international debate and decision making, such as climate change, forecasting seasonal to inter-annual climate variability, freshwater, biodiversity, desertification, forests, ecosystem productivity, food security, land-based activities affecting the marine and aquatic environments, persistent organic pollutants and toxic chemicals, and megacity problems.
In the context of the UN system-wide Earthwatch, a broad strategy for the whole process of environmental information collection and delivery at the international level has been prepared as an umbrella framework, within which IGOS forms the observation component.
FAO is developing an Organizational Strategy which includes, as one of five high priority service areas: the collection of information, monitoring, assessment and analysis of the global state of food and nutrition, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and promotion of a central place for food security on the international agenda.
UNEP has prepared a new UNEP-wide Environmental Observing and Assessment Strategy, in consultation with many outside partners and information users. One identified need is for UNEP to prepare regular reports on the adequacy and effectiveness of international environmental observing and monitoring efforts.
In support of the review of Science for Sustainable Development (Chapter 35) by the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) in 1998, UNEP Earthwatch prepared a Report on International Scientific Advisory Processes on Environment and Sustainable Development (UNEP/DEIA/TR.98-1) which reviewed the roles of a number of international scientific advisory processes in collecting and assessing scientific data and information and preparing advice for specific decision-making bodies such as the conferences of the parties to environmental conventions, as well as more generally to the international community and governments. The report has helped to stimulate consideration of the effectiveness of these processes, and encouraged more strategic thinking about how scientific advice is best assembled and delivered to decision-makers. This element of the overall information strategy will be developed further as resources permit.
Within the framework of the Integrated Global Observing Strategy, more detailed strategies exist or are being developed for a number of sub-components. These nested processes of strategic planning at different levels of integration are an important part of the IGOS process, allowing each subsidiary group, module or partnership to work out the specifics at its own level. Where the IGOS Partners see the need for additional sub-components, they can stimulate the interested bodies to begin their own strategic process within the IGOS framework. IGOS itself helps to cap and interrelate these sub-components.
CEOS is taking the lead in developing this strategy. Based on the requirements produced by the Theme teams, CEOS will work to minimize gaps and overlaps through coordination between its members.
The IGOS Partners agreed on the need for this component at their second meeting in November 1998, to be developed by the G3OS and their sponsors under the lead of WMO over the next year.
The IGOS Partners have agreed to use the Global Observing Systems Space Panel (GOSSP), established jointly between the three Global Observing Systems and with added participation from CEOS, as the principal mechanism to develop harmonized requirements for space-based observations to be presented to the space agencies.
The Sponsors Group for G3OS reviewed a first draft for the strategic plan at its first meeting in January 1997, and adopted a revised version in September 1997. The document is a working tool to be updated regularly in accordance with the strategic needs of the systems.
The GCOS/GTOS Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate has developed a Global Hierarchical Observing Strategy (GHOST) to coordinate multiple scales of observations.
GOOS has adopted a Strategic Plan in March 1998 and is issuing a report on its implementation plans as GOOS 1998.
The GTOS Planning Group Report was accepted by the sponsors in January 1996, and provided the initial strategic document for the launching of GTOS. The GTOS Implementation Plan was issued in December 1998 to provide the framework for the implementation of GTOS.