|United Nations System-Wide
GROUP FOR THE
Geneva, 13-14 January 1997
1. The first meeting of the Sponsors Group for the Global Observing Systems (GCOS, GOOS, GTOS) was opened on Monday, 13 January at the UNEP offices in Geneva by the Deputy Assistant Executive Director of UNEP, who also chaired the meeting. The agenda was approved as proposed (Annex 1). The list of participants is given in Annex 2. It was agreed that the best abbreviation to refer to the three Global Observing Systems together would be G3OS. The terms of reference for the group finalized at the preparatory meeting (Geneva, 15 October 1996) are appended in Annex 3.
Development of an integrated global observing strategy
2. As agreed at the preparatory meeting, the Sponsors Group discussed the elements and issues that should be included in an integrated global observing strategy as an umbrella for the three Observing Systems and other international observation activities. As background, the meeting reviewed the proposals from some countries for an integrated global observing strategy, a report prepared for UNEP on the Global Observing Systems, and the discussion paper on an integrated global observing strategy presented at the CEOS meeting 27-29 March 1996. While the issues were being discussed in a number of countries and at scientific meetings, it was not yet clear to what extent they had consensus or high level government support. Space agencies needed to develop user communities for their information products, but this should not drive the design of the Observing Systems or distort the balance between remote and in situ components. While creating a single global observing system was not a practical possibility, there was agreement that integration was needed and that the Sponsors should take a strong position on an integrated strategy to avoid gaps and overlaps.
3. Several organizations and bodies, including the Committee for Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), were moving ahead with meetings and panels to consider strategies for integration, and duplication should be avoided within the Global Observing Systems. There was such a multiplication of meetings that it was no longer possible to attend all of them. Processes should be simplified, and cooperative forward planning used to reduce the number of meetings to the minimum needed, combining the efforts of all interested organizations wherever possible. The Sponsors Group could help to identify who might speak for all the sponsors and even all the observing systems at particular meetings.
4. Integration, collaboration and simplification were needed at several levels. At the conceptual level, system objectives and strategies should be harmonized. At the technical level, the secretariats should work more closely together, and working groups should be rationalized within and between programmes. At the political level of the sponsors and governments, little had been done to date, but the creation of the Sponsors Group was an important first step. Clarity on these points would help to determine where each sponsor and secretariat should concentrate its efforts. Special attention was needed to build support for the Global Observing Systems in the governing bodies of each sponsor, where there was competition for shrinking funds and a focus on limited priorities. There was also a need for integrated approaches at the national level, where fragmented agencies and programmes made it difficult to articulate national activities with integrated multidisciplinary global programmes.
5. Particular reference was made to meeting the observational requirements defined by the full range of user communities. A number of common issues were identified, each of which should represent a theme for integration across the systems in various directions. These included topical issues such as climate change, biodiversity and desertification for which there were already international conventions; persistent organic pollutants, forests, and land-based activities affecting the marine and aquatic environments, for which conventions were possible; and more general issues such as coastal zone management, freshwater, socio-economic implications, food security and ecosystem productivity. Then there were functional issues requiring integration, such as space-based observations, in situ observations, data management and telecommunications, political (national government) support, and fund-raising.
6. A possible outline of topics for the integrated global observing strategy document is attached as Annex 4.
Capacities of GCOS, GOOS and GTOS
7. The sponsors reviewed in some detail the actual and potential capacities of each observing system to meet requirements of its implementation plan. The frank exchange of views made it possible to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each system, learn from the experience of others, and make recommendations for improvements.
GLOBAL OCEAN OBSERVING SYSTEM (GOOS)
8. GOOS has had some difficulties with its elaborate structure including both a committee of government representatives (I-GOOS) and a Joint Scientific and Technical Committee (J-GOOS) with different co-sponsors, which the GOOS office had difficulty supporting due to shortage of staff. ICSU, WMO and GCOS were providing significant assistance. An appointment was now being made to a permanent position of Director of the GOOS Support Office in IOC. The Sponsors group noted its pleasure at the efforts of UNESCO and its IOC to provide this high level post and office dedicated solely to GOOS and reporting to all the sponsors as agreed in the J-GOOS MOU, and its hope that this office would receive the full cooperation and assistance of all the relevant parts of IOC and UNESCO. The Sponsors also expressed their appreciation to France and the USA for having seconded interim Directors of the GOOS Support Office for so many years until this appointment could be made.
9. It was important as a matter of principle that each Observing System have a secretariat that, while hosted by and under the administrative responsibility of one partner, should be fully dedicated to the system and reporting to all the sponsors. This independence should be reflected in the Sponsors Group, where each sponsor and each secretariat should be represented separately.
10. On the structural difficulties in GOOS, the group noted that this was now being addressed by meetings of the GOOS sponsors. Experience with the other observing systems has shown that a single steering committee functions most efficiently, and an evolution by GOOS in that direction should be encouraged. WMO and UNEP, as the other sponsors with IOC of I-GOOS, indicated that their interest was in general support to GOOS, rather than specifically to the I-GOOS structure. It would be desirable if all the observing systems had more similar structures to facilitate integration, such as by joint meetings of steering committees.
11. All the sponsors should become actively involved in GOOS and the recent meetings of GOOS sponsors were an important beginning. The coastal module was given high priority as an element of GOOS by governments and agencies. The UNEP Water Branch offered to make a significant commitment to the organization of the coastal dimension of GOOS and GTOS, as a joint coastal panel could contribute to implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, and would relate closely to the interests of the Regional Seas Programmes. FAO expressed its strong interest in fisheries, the coastal zone and small islands relevant to GOOS, and invited GOOS representatives to Rome to discuss collaboration. The Sponsors Group reiterated the desirability expressed on previous occasions of having all sponsors ultimately sharing in the sponsorship of all the Observing Systems.
GLOBAL TERRESTRIAL OBSERVING SYSTEM (GTOS)
12. The meeting reviewed a progress report by the GTOS secretariat, two letters from the chairman of the GTOS Steering Committee on revisions to its terms of reference and on support to the secretariat, and proposed revisions to the memorandum of understanding. Particular concern had been expressed that interim arrangements for professional staff in the secretariat were only confirmed to mid-1997 and the recruitment of a permanent Executive Secretary was suspended pending further financial support. FAO provided a briefing on the current situation.
13. The Sponsors appreciated the efforts made by FAO and others to continue the operation of the interim secretariat in difficult circumstances, and accepted the arrangements made to continue full support for the first half of 1997 and the half-time contribution of an FAO professional to the end of the year, in addition to the provision of offices, administrative and secretarial support. Every effort should be made to obtain a fully-funded post in FAO for the Director (Executive Secretary) of the GTOS Secretariat for the 1998-1999 biennium, as this would be equivalent to the support provided by the host organizations to the secretariats of the other Observing Systems, and would respect the terms of the GTOS Memorandum of Understanding. If this proves impossible and sufficient outside funding cannot be obtained in time, then other alternatives for the GTOS Secretariat could be considered.
14. FAO urged the GTOS sponsors to make their 1997 contributions to the GTOS Trust Fund as soon as possible so that agreed activities could be implemented on schedule. Even with those contributions, the discretionary funds available for GTOS were only half of the minimum shown to be necessary for the other observing systems.
15. Everyone present at the first GTOS Steering Committee meeting had been impressed with the quality of the committee membership. It was critical to ensure adequate funding and other support for the activities planned by the Steering Committee, including another committee meeting in May. There was concern that the committee had agreed only to limited participation and not full co-sponsorship of the joint panels on space-based observations and data and information, but this was apparently due to the lack of available resources. The Sponsors urged that one GTOS representative participate in the GOOS meeting on the coastal zone in Miami in February, if only to be informed of the developments taking place with which they would need to cooperate. GCOS and FAO were prepared to share the cost of this participation.
16. The sponsors recalled that, in accordance with the MOU, each of them should name a member of the Steering Committee representing the sponsor. These were to be considered full members of the committee, as distinct from other representatives of the sponsors who might attend particular meetings. ICSU had designated Bernard Tinker, and UNEP Marion Cheatle. The other members representing the sponsors had not yet been selected. This arrangement ensured that the sponsors' concerns were integrated into the committee's work, and that the sponsors were kept well informed of the progress of GTOS. The sponsors agreed to cover the cost of their members as an interim measure while the financial situation of GTOS was still so difficult.
17. FAO and the GTOS Secretariat presented a revised draft of the Memorandum of Understanding for GTOS as agreed by the FAO legal office and proposing changes suggested by the GTOS Steering Committee, UNEP and FAO. The sponsors reviewed each proposed change and agreed to a final text for the Memorandum of Understanding ready to be circulated for signature by each GTOS co-sponsor (Annex 5). As part of the harmonization across all the Observing Systems, the sponsors requested that the head of the GTOS Secretariat be titled Director rather than Executive Secretary, to be seen to be equivalent to the heads of the GCOS and GOOS secretariats.
GLOBAL CLIMATE OBSERVING SYSTEM (GCOS)
18. The GCOS Joint Planning Office provided a comprehensive report to the Sponsors Group which was greatly appreciated. GCOS was the most advanced of the systems and had pioneered the development of global multidisciplinary approaches to operational activities in many difficult areas. In discussion, the principal difficulties with GCOS related to the role of and relationships to the sponsors, and the procedures for pursuing the implementation of the plans prepared by GCOS. Much of the intended planning had been completed in the last two years, but GCOS did not have the access to governments necessary to deliver the plans and to discuss implementation. The sponsors should address how this should be done.
19. One further step would be to assemble the plans produced into a more coherent package, relating objectives, activities and deliverables. Similar efforts will be important for GOOS and GTOS. A further focus was needed on user benefits, including developing the relationship with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). It was a challenge to develop the interface between observational field activities and global planning. Where it was difficult to create much interest in long-term climate change, a more immediate pay-off was evident from short-term climate prediction. The users needed to develop a sense of ownership of the observational activities producing the flows of data that they require for decision-making, as is happening through the GCOS panels. The Joint Planning Office requested the assistance of the sponsors and the other systems for their planned participants meeting.
20. The GCOS Memorandum of Understanding includes provision for a review after four years. This had been raised by WMO with the other sponsors at the heads of agency level, but without a response. The Sponsors Group now provided a practical mechanism for such a review. It was agreed that GCOS would circulate proposals for modifications to the existing MOU based on the outcomes of this meeting. For instance, now that the planning phase of GCOS was coming to an end, it might be appropriate to change the name of the Joint Planning Office and to give it more than a planning role. This would also be an opportunity to benefit from the experience of all three systems, and to harmonize structures and terminologies.
21. ICSU informed the group of its plan to conduct a review of GCOS by 1998, as part if its regular reviews of the relevance and effectiveness of all its interdisciplinary bodies and programmes undertaken with joint sponsorship. These reviews are conducted by a group of knowledgeable persons, largely by mail. If other sponsors need such a review, it would be best to combine it with the ICSU review, rather than doing it separately and generating more work for all concerned. Other sponsors were invited to name a member of the review panel, but ICSU would need to know before the meeting of their Advisory Committee on Environment the week of 20 January.
22. The written progress reports submitted by GCOS and GTOS were appreciated, and this practice should continue at future annual meetings. It would be desirable to include in the reports some summary financial information on budgets, income and expenditures. The sponsors should also provide information on their contributions. It was decided that the Sponsors Group should include on its agenda an item on budgets and financial planning as well as fund-raising. It became apparent during the presentations that there were significant expenditures and in-kind contributions being made on behalf of the systems by sponsors and by other secretariats, and it would be desirable to assemble an overview of the full costs of each system. A more equitable sharing of the costs of joint activities would also be desirable as soon as the financial status of each programme permitted.
23. The sponsors should draw on their breadth of knowledge of existing activities to review programmes which may fit into the global observing system frameworks, and to work for their greater involvement in G3OS activities. They also should use links with such activities to increase the visibility of and build support for the observing systems. For instance, the work on developing indicators of sustainable development under the Commission on Sustainable Development and elsewhere will generate a need for new flows of data to calculate the indicators, to which the observing systems should respond. Some references to the Global Observing Systems have been included in the reports to the fifth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development and the UN Special Session reviewing the implementation of Agenda 21. The systems can play an important role in harmonization and quality control criteria, as well as in demonstrating the utility of databases for developing countries.
24. All the programmes have started by building on existing systems, and preparing plans for implementation largely at the national level. However, even once existing observational activities and networks are incorporated, there will remain significant gaps to be filled. Operational observations are well-developed in some fields and embryonic or non-existent in others. Building new institutional mechanisms may be required, both nationally and internationally. There are also significant parts of the developing world where there is little or no monitoring activity and where international assistance and capacity building will be required. The roles and functions of the Global Observing Systems in catalyzing these developments still needs to be defined, and may require kinds of expertise and approaches quite different from what has been required for planning.
25. The meeting considered the present and proposed state of inter-system cooperation in each area of common interest, and determined what further actions could be taken by the system secretariats or the sponsors to extend such cooperation to all areas where it is appropriate. GCOS will continue to administer the joint panels on space-based observations and on data management, but would like to rotate that responsibility if possible in the future. About $10,000 would be needed from each system for basic operation of each panel, not counting support for outreach activities. In the past, membership has been designated by GCOS in consultation with GOOS and GTOS with attention to balance among land, ocean and climate aspects, but this should move to joint selection of panel members by the three programmes. The sponsors were pleased with the way the panels were operating and urged their continuation.
26. It will be important to maintain the simplest structure possible of working groups across all the systems. Standing panels should only be established where they were clearly justified, as they were in rapidly evolving fields such as space observations and data management. Wherever possible working groups should be given specific mandates and time frames to deliver a defined product before disbanding. With the pressure to reduce the number of meetings, the Sponsors Group should regularly assess the continuing need for each panel and working group.
27. The question was raised whether there was a need for an in situ observations panel to balance the space-based observations panel. There was a critical need, particularly for terrestrial and coastal observations, to know what data were being collected and where. Programmes could only be built on existing activities if those activities were known. This would require inventories of on-going measurements. However this is a complex task, often specific to each type of measurement, and beyond the capacities of the observing systems. The TEMS database in GTOS was a start, but there were presently no resources to maintain it. This was an area where governments should be encouraged to make national inventories, and perhaps to take on the responsibility of establishing regional or international data centres as contributions to the global programmes. The Sponsors Group noted that this was an area of critical concern that could only be developed gradually, starting with the improved sharing of existing data. The GTOS Working Group on site criteria, and the coastal panel, might maintain a watching brief on possibilities to improve the geographic organization, and eventually co-location, of in situ observations.
28. The joint Space-based Observations panel was working well, and should provide a mechanism to simplify and make more efficient the contacts between the space agencies and the sponsors and other parts of the user community. A database had been developed making it possible to match data requirements and the technical capacities of space-based instruments. Effort should be shifted from the multiple ad hoc contacts of the past to these new integrated mechanisms for matching demand and supply. The space panel was not looking at real-time operational requirements or experimental research sensors, but concentrating on the repeated measurements required to build time series data for monitoring and detecting change.
29. The space-based observations panel provides a mechanism for coordination of technical inputs to the Committee for Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) representing most of the space agencies. The Sponsors Group should consider how to achieve cost-effective involvement of the sponsors in CEOS when required at a higher level.
30. The Data Management panel faced a more difficult challenge, since there was such a broad range of data requirements that it was impossible to get down to the same level of detail. It might still be necessary to have some data groups within each observing system, while the joint panel would provide an umbrella framework for larger scale harmonization and joint services. The sponsors should indicate to the Data Management panel the relevant activities in their own organizations.
TERRESTRIAL/CLIMATE, OCEAN/CLIMATE AND COASTAL PANELS
31. With respect to the joint panels at the interfaces between the observing systems, the GCOS/GTOS Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) has made good progress, completing the second version of its plan which was now ready for implementation. The GCOS/GOOS/WCRP Ocean Observations Panel for Climate (OOPC), administered by GOOS, is developing the ocean climate module. It is addressing implementation in cooperation with existing programmes and bodies (e.g. IGOSS, CMM, DBCP, etc.). Work on a Coastal Zones module is being initiated by GOOS with a meeting in Miami, 24-28 February 1997. The sponsors recognize that the coastal area is an interface between the three observing systems, and they must work together in a coordinated way. They urged J-GOOS, which is organizing the Miami meeting, to make this a joint activity. The GTOS Steering Committee has established a coastal group to define its approach in this area, and the sponsors requested that someone representing GTOS attend the Miami meeting if at all possible to initiate discussion on their cooperation. The decision by the UNEP Water Branch to provide some leadership and support to this joint coastal activity was welcomed. There should also be links to the activity on runoff and coastal pollution, and to the development of operational hydrology.
32. A panel on socio-economic benefits from the observing systems was another priority need. All the systems recognize that a clear definition of the societal benefits from their observations will help to build and maintain support, yet all are weak in expertise in this area. There are also socio-economic parameters that are required to interpret issues of global change, and ways in which natural resources data from the observing systems could be used in socio-economic accounting.
33. GTOS has established a group to look at socio-economic issues, and should perhaps take the lead in this area. The sponsors suggested that GTOS might invite GCOS and GOOS to participate in the group, in the hope that it will evolve into a joint activity. The GCOS Working Group on Socio-economic Benefits completed and reported the results of analytical studies to international meetings, but currently the group is inactive. GOOS has also done considerable work in this area, which it should share with the GTOS group. It would be good to establish links with other relevant activities of the sponsors, such as work done under the UNESCO MAB programme and UNEP's work on natural resources accounting.
34. The International Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme (IHDP), now jointly sponsored by the International Social Science Council and ICSU, might be willing to form a partnership with a joint socio-economic panel, and perhaps even take the lead in organizing a joint activity. The sponsors strongly encouraged this and asked that the ICSU representative to the next scientific committee of IHDP (24-25 January) raise this possibility with IHDP.
35. As a step towards defining the scope of work of such a joint panel, the secretariats were asked to prepare the questions for which they would like to have responses from a socio-economic perspective. These should be provided to ICSU as input to the discussions with IHDP. The draft plan of action for the World Climate Impacts and Response Strategies Programme (WCIRP) being finalized by UNEP would also be an essential input, and should be made available to ICSU and the secretariats.
36. All three systems need observations across the water cycle, which is an important integrative component. There has been progress through the development of the World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS), but the work of the hydrological community has not yet been linked effectively to the much broader importance of water in biogeochemical cycles and other global processes. Except for the climate requirements outlined by the TOPC, the observing systems have yet to define their other needs for hydrological data. There are also problems of access to hydrological data at the national level which still need to be overcome.
37. The Sponsors Group recognized the importance of this component, and recommended to the GTOS Steering Committee that it reconsider the priority it has given to water resources. GTOS is encouraged to take the lead in this area, and should invite the cooperation of GCOS and GOOS in a joint activity.
JOINT PILOT PROJECTS
38. A joint pilot project in South-East Asia has been developed by the GCOS Planning Office on behalf of GCOS/GOOS/GTOS. It has been widely reviewed and now awaits redrafting into final form. Another prepared by FAO has been submitted to Norway for funding, with a response expected in mid-February. The secretariats and the Sponsors Group should explore opportunities for the further development of such activities.
Information exchange, public relations and fund–raising
39. The Sponsors Group meeting had already resulted in a great improvement in information exchange between the systems and with the sponsors. It should also provide a basis for rationalizing the number of meetings and reduce the need for cross-attendance at those meetings. For the immediate future, two meetings of the Sponsors Group per year may be necessary. This simple mechanism may be sufficient at the sponsors' level.
40. As soon as the new GOOS and GTOS Directors are in place, it will be important for the three Directors to establish their own close working relationships, with at least two meetings a year, possibly the day before the Sponsors Group, so as to be fully informed, discuss joint concerns and frame future directions. At the level of the Steering Committees (scientific and technical committees), each committee should regularly invite the other two to be represented by an observer, as is already provided for in the GTOS MOU. Other possible mechanisms for information exchange and joint planning on an occasional basis could include joint meetings of the chairs of groups and the Directors of the secretariats, and possibly joint meetings between Steering Committees.
41. It has proven very confusing to explain the three Global Observing Systems and their relationships to outsider because of their complicated structures, almost complete differences in terminology, and heterogeneous publication formats. It will help to communicate the integration and coherence of the three systems if these are harmonized to the extent possible. The sponsors decided to encourage the secretariats and their host organizations to collaborate in developing uniform structures and terminology, in order to strengthen their close collaboration and coherence in global observations of the environment. With respect to the terms applied to the system structures, it was recommended that all the offices be called "Secretariats", to be headed by a "Director" and guided by a "Steering Committee". Standing bodies might be called "Panels", and those of limited duration "Working Groups". These changes can be introduced gradually when an appropriate opportunity arises, such as in the review of the GCOS MOU.
42. With the increasing number of publications and reports being generated by the Observing Systems, more attention was also needed to their coherent appearance and distribution. The sponsors strongly recommended to the three Directors that they harmonize their publication formats, layouts, logos and graphic designs. The Director of GCOS should prepare proposals for the other Directors. The Sponsors Group itself should use the format already prepared by UNEP, with all the sponsors' logos at the bottom of the page. Public information materials should make cross-references to all the systems.
43. For the distribution of documents, each system should determine the major part of its own distribution. The sponsors should advise the Directors of how many copies they need for routine distribution. The Directors should advise the sponsors and other secretariats of forthcoming publications, so they can decide on the additional distribution that might be appropriate. Distribution lists should be shared to reduce duplication. When documents are provided to the sponsors for distribution to their lists, it would help if an appropriate cover letter could also be supplied. Further consideration needed to be given to the best way to reach the appropriate levels in governments.
44. Following on from the proposal at the Preparatory Meeting for a joint brochure for senior advisors, possibly with one summary page and about 10 supporting pages describing the three systems and their societal benefits, ICSU offered to prepare a first draft of the brochure and accompanying graphics. This offer was welcomed with warm appreciation. The same material could also be adapted for use on the World Wide Web sites of each system.
45. It was agreed that the preparation of coordinated or joint approaches to fund-raising is a major continuing task for the Sponsors Group. A coherent strategy, with defined roles and responsibilities for sponsors, secretariats and other partners, will need to be developed, without constraining the opportunistic nature of much fund-raising. At the project level, each system should make its own direct approaches, following the procedures of its host organization. At an intermediate level, some cooperation would be useful. A major pledging conference for governments should be a joint activity for all three systems. Any information on countries or organizations that might be receptive should be shared and incorporated in the strategy.
46. Some problems had arisen with different secretariats seeking funding for joint activities, sometimes to short deadlines that did not leave time for adequate consultation. This suggested a need for procedures to coordinate joint proposals. The sponsors preferred simplicity in coordination in this area, relying on the good judgement of the Directors to consult directly with all those concerned, on a case by case basis. Information on fund-raising initiatives and project submissions should be shared to avoid duplication, and care should be taken so that one proposal does not undercut another one. Unilateral action without consultation should be avoided.
Building regional and national support
47. At present, only a few countries showed much understanding of and support for the global observing systems at the national level. Now that plans are being completed and are ready for implementation, attracting national support and participation will be a major challenge. The respective roles of the sponsors and secretariats in this still need to be defined. Past efforts to use intergovernmental meetings to build support have not proven very successful, and many approaches will probably be necessary. The planned World Climate Research Programme conference could be observed as a possible model to follow.
48. Each system has been discussing ways to encourage government support and participation. The GTOS sponsors suggested that the Sponsors Group discuss organizing a major reporting session to governments on the Global Observing Systems, with the aim of getting their endorsement and support. However the plans for each system are at different stages of development, and not all are ready for presentation to governments. GOOS is planning a meeting of government agency heads on the perspectives for GOOS on 25 June 1997, just prior to I-GOOS, to be followed by a Ministerial meeting in June 1998. GCOS should be involved in these GOOS meetings because of the importance of the ocean/climate component. GCOS is also planning a meeting of participating governments next year in the context of the Climate Agenda. In response to these proposed governmental meetings, the Sponsors Group expressed a willingness to assist so that such meetings are prepared and conducted in a concerted way. It asked that there be more cooperation between the Directors in preparing these meetings, and that each meeting should reflect the linkages between the three systems. It was essential that all the meetings be presented as part of a coherent strategy to build government support. The GCOS JSTC will invite the active support of the sponsors, GOOS and GTOS, among others, to assist in the preparation and conduct of its meeting. It would also be useful to sound out governments as to the kind of mechanism they want to interface with the global observing systems.
49. Some of the GOOS sponsors had suggested that the Intergovernmental Committee for GOOS (I-GOOS) might be expanded into or replaced by a broader mechanism for government participation covering all three systems. Discussions on this should continue among the GOOS sponsors and with the Strategy Sub-Committee (SSC) of I-GOOS.
50. A few governments have expressed a preference for a single national body to deal with all three observing systems. This will require the development of some integrating mechanism at the national level. Otherwise, it is not evident to identify who in a government would be the appropriate national counterparts for all three systems, and who to invite to intergovernmental meetings. There will also need to be different approaches to building the cooperation of developing countries, since they will generally require outside assistance to build their capacity for observation programmes. Support from the Global Environment Facility is only provided in response to country proposals, so assistance to countries in preparing such proposals may be required, and special funding is available for this.
Coordination with international bodies and programmes
51. The conventions on climate change, ozone, biological diversity and desertification, among others, should become important users of observational data to monitor the trends in their respective problem areas and to determine whether the measures adopted under the conventions are having the desired effect. However they will only become ready to consider the data issue at a particular point in their political development. The sponsors' observers at the meetings of the conferences of the parties and the subsidiary bodies should be briefed on the Global Observing Systems, and should be ready to point out to the conventions the services that the systems can perform. They also should keep the three secretariats informed of any opportunities to submit information on their work to the conventions and to strengthen their working relationships with the convention machinery.
52. The roles of the governing bodies of each sponsor also need to be considered, since the support of governments to maintain the observing systems in the sponsors' work programmes and budgets was essential to the healthy development of the secretariats. The sponsors should assist each other in bringing the global observing systems to the attention of their governing bodies. Similar efforts were needed in inter-governmental fora such as the Commission on Sustainable Development, where the sponsors who were Task Managers should include the observing systems in their statements and reports. The value of data from systematic observations in supporting indicators for decision-making would be one theme to emphasize.
Sponsorship of the Global Observing Systems
53. It was agreed that it was clearly desirable in principle for all the sponsors to co-sponsor all three Observing Systems, and each sponsor was urged to explore the possibilities of doing this. UNESCO pointed out that the special relationship between UNESCO and its IOC will have to be taken into account in this respect. In the meantime, it was decided that the secretariats and sponsors would share information with all of the members of the Sponsors Group regardless of whether they were formally a sponsor of the system in question. UNEP, as the organization providing secretariat support for the Sponsors Group, was asked to prepare a common e-mail list or even a list-server for the group to facilitate such distribution.
54. Among organizations that had been mentioned as potential additional sponsors, the World Health Organization (WHO) was identified as one with a significant involvement in environmental observation programmes and operational data collection. It was decided to initiate discussions with WHO to explore its possible interest in becoming a sponsor.
Work plan and responsibilities
55. A number of points requiring action by sponsors and secretariats have been identified in this report. ICSU will prepare and circulate a draft for the brochure. UNEP was requested to prepare a first draft of the Integrated Global Observing Strategy, based on the discussions in the Sponsors Group and the outline approved in Annex 4.
Date, host organization and venue of the next meeting
56. The participants agreed that the next meeting of the Sponsors Group would be held in Geneva on 16-17 September 1997 hosted by UNEP, preceded by a meeting of the Directors of the three secretariats on 15 September.
Approval of the report of the meeting
57. It was important to publicise the work of the Sponsors Group, and those parts of the report of the meeting of general interest should be published and given wide distribution to those interested in the Global Observing Systems. It was agreed that part of the process of approval of the meeting reports would be to identify matters of internal interest only that should not be included in the published report.
58. Part of the draft report was reviewed at the end of the meeting, and the full report was circulated immediately after for approval by each participant. The meeting was closed at 17:15 on Tuesday, 14 January.
GROUP FOR THE GLOBAL OBSERVING SYSTEMS
(GCOS, GOOS AND GTOS)
Geneva, 13-14 January 1997
1. Opening of the meeting
GROUP FOR THE GLOBAL OBSERVING SYSTEMS
(GCOS, GOOS and GTOS)
Geneva, 13-14 January 1997
FAO - Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations
ICSU - International Council
of Scientific Unions
Ms Sophie Boyer King
IOC - Intergovernmental Oceanographic
UNEP - United Nations Environment
Mr Walter Rast
Mr C.C. Wallen
UNESCO - United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
WMO - World Meteorological
Mr Leo Breslin
Mr Robert Landis
GCOS - Global Climate Observing
System Joint Planning Office
GTOS - Global Terrestrial
In order to ensure a continuing close synergy and enhanced information exchange among the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), and to develop a common strategy toward their implementation and their application, the sponsors, FAO, ICSU, UNEP, UNESCO and its IOC, and WMO, together with representatives of the respective observing programmes (head of support/planning offices), agree to meet as a Sponsors Group for the Global Observing Systems (GCOS, GOOS and GTOS) with the following terms of reference:
1. To review the observational requirements as defined by the user communities and to advise and recommend on harmonization of medium and long-range strategies of the three observing programmes;
2. To consider the actual and potential capacities of the three Observing Systems to meet the requirements, identify gaps and overlaps, and make proposals as appropriate to improve coverage and efficiency;
3. To advise on existing and potential joint activities between the three programmes, review the means established to achieve cooperation through such joint activities, and make recommendations to enhance coordination;
4. To identify areas where existing research and operational observing programmes of the sponsors contribute to meeting the objectives of the three Observing Systems, and to assist in facilitating such contributions;
5. To assist on information exchange, public and media relations and fund-raising;
6. To examine the mechanisms established or proposed at the regional and national level to participate in or support the three observing programmes, and to encourage and support approaches that will increase national benefits and contributions globally, with particular attention to developing countries;
7. To review and make recommendations concerning the mechanisms established or proposed to coordinate the three observing programmes with relevant international bodies and programmes;
8. To review and make recommendations on data management through the programmes with the objective of the widest possible data exchange and dissemination;
9. To advise on activities to facilitate the use and application of the data from the Observing Systems with particular attention to developing countries.
Arrangements: Each of the sponsors will assume responsibility, for a period of one year, for convening, hosting, and chairing annual meetings of the group, for preparing the provisional agenda and reports of the meetings, and for follow-up. More frequent meetings can be arranged by mutual agreement as necessary.
Integrated objectives for global observing systems
Strategy for the development and implementation of the Global Observing Systems
Integration across priority
between the systems
Function integration of the
Interfaces between the systems
Delivery to users
hereinafter referred to as the "co-sponsoring organisations"
FAO, ICSU, UNESCO, UNEP,
The provisions calling for improved environmental data and information in UNCED Agenda 21 and in particular the request contained in paragraph 10.11(a) thereof to strengthen information, systematic observation and assessment systems for environmental, economic and social data related to land resources at the global, regional, national and local levels and for land capability and land-use management patterns;
The recommendation made by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its third session in 1995 concerning chapter 35 of Agenda 21 encouraging Governments and intergovernmental and other relevant international organisations to enhance, with full participation of developing countries, international scientific cooperation aimed inter alia at the development of Global Environment Observing Systems.
The need for improved and reliable information on, and assessment of, responses of natural and managed ecosystems to global change identified by other scientific meetings including the workshop on a Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) (Fontainebleau, 27-31 July 1992) and the first meeting of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Terrestrial Ecosystems Monitoring and Assessment (Prague, 9-11 September 1992);
The successful completion of the Planning Phase for GTOS in December 1995, resulting in a concrete conceptual plan;
.The requirements under international conventions - including those on Biological Diversity, Desertification and Climate Change - for information and assessments on environmental status and trends relevant to each convention;
That the Members of FAO have - in their Quebec Declaration of October 1995, formally adopted by the FAO Conference at its Twenty-eighth Session on 25 October 1995 in Rome - committed themselves to give due emphasis to assisting efforts in the identification, evaluation, development and monitoring of the use of natural resources;
That the governing bodies of ICSU have, at each of their meetings since 1992, reaffirmed ICSU's commitment to the need for observations and monitoring of the earth system and its support for all three observing systems (GCOS, GTOS, GOOS), in which ICSU is a partner;
That the Governing Council of UNEP has, at its 18th session in May 1995, decided that monitoring the status of the global environment through the gathering and dissemination of reliable environmental information was one of the major areas on which UNEP should concentrate its activities. Further, it approved activities whereby UNEP would advise and partially finance collaborative monitoring networks and observing systems (i.e. GTOS) to support national, regional and global assessments, and to enhance developing countries' capabilities to use information;
That UNESCO's General Conference at its 28th session in 1995 approved the Organisation's continued co-sponsorship of GTOS, and that UNESCO's contribution to global observing systems (GCOS, GOOS and GTOS) was endorsed by the Chairpersons of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme, International Hydrological Programme (IHP), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and Joint UNESCO-IUGS International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP) - in their Joint Statement of November 1995 - and was considered to represent an activity area for developing a co-operative approach among the five undertakings;
That the WMO Executive Council noted, at its 48th session, the close cooperation between GCOS, GOOS and GTOS, and urged Members to provide support to national activities on behalf of GOOS and GTOS, particularly as they relate to climate, and that the WMO Congress, at its 12th session, urged that the close coordination between GTOS, GCOS and GOOS continue;
The need to harmonise, coordinate and make more cost-effective the existing and developing global observing systems, especially the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) with a complementary Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) to support the implementation of the requirements of Agenda 21;
To cooperate in implementing
a Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), based on the co-ordination
of existing and planned operational and research programmes for observing
natural and managed terrestrial ecosystems;
To establish a GTOS Steering Committee to provide programme guidance, formulate the strategy and provide scientific and technical advice for the implementation of GTOS, with the terms of reference, structure and functions set out in Annex B.
To support through appropriate administrative and financial arrangements, the activities of GTOS and its Secretariat at FAO Headquarters as set out in Annex C.
To designate representatives
who will consult as appropriate on the implementation of this Memorandum
.AGREE that other organisations, which may wish to join in the sponsorship of GTOS, may become party to this Memorandum of Understanding, subject to the approval of the five co-sponsoring organisations, with appropriate administrative and financial arrangements.
AGREE that the Annexes shall form an integral part of the Agreement.
AGREE that any dispute arising out of, or in connection with, this Memorandum of Understanding shall be settled by negotiation between the parties. Should attempts at settlement by negotiation fail, the dispute shall be submitted to arbitration following procedures to be agreed by the parties.
AGREE that this Memorandum of Understanding shall come into force on signature by all five parties.
For FAO: ________________________
For ICSU: ________________________
For UNESCO ________________________
For UNEP: ________________________
For WMO: ________________________
1. Scope and guiding principles
GTOS is one of three global observing systems - GCOS, GOOS and GTOS - which are complementary and mutually supportive. They will collaborate on features, issues and technologies of common concern, including near-surface climate, coastal areas, space-based observations and data and information management.
The terrestrial systems on which GTOS will focus include:
the land (landforms,
soils, substrate) and its resources;
The needs (prioritised where necessary) of all potential GTOS user groups will be taken into consideration to determine a core set of parameters for terrestrial observations. Supplementary sets of parameters can be compiled to meet specialised user needs and/or environmental phenomena unique to particular locations, hydrological regimes or ecosystem types.
GTOS will encompass the full range of ecosystems, from pristine to intensively managed such as silviculture and farming systems. GTOS will use, as far as possible, existing or planned field monitoring sites.
Remote sensing will play a vital role in GTOS, particularly in detecting change in spatial patterns and ecosystem structure and extent at the larger spatial scales, in extrapolating local observations to larger areas, and in ensuring a consistent set of measurements around the globe.
GTOS will encourage the development of appropriate data policies, including policies on access, sharing, archiving and distribution, and on quality control. The harmonisation of measurement methodologies will be essential to achieving common and comparable datasets around the globe.
GTOS will be developed with a phased approach, building on scientific planning and definition of user needs. GTOS implementation will evolve largely through national commitments and involve appropriate national structures and include links with capacity building and training networks so as to ensure the strengthening of relevant institutions and training of experts required for the full participation of all countries, especially those in the developing world.
To provide an observational framework and data for:
detection and understanding
of the impacts of regional and global change on terrestrial and freshwater
ecosystems, including their biodiversity, as well as responses of ecosystems
to such change, and of their role in causing change;
3. Principal User Groups
and non-governmental organisations: For interpreting the national
state of the environment (including natural resources and biodiversity)
in relation to global processes; for assessing the efficacy of existing
conservation systems in natural and managed ecosystems; for planning
and executing appropriate land and water management for sustainable
development; for national action plans.
1. Terms of Reference
1.1 The functions of the GTOS Steering Committee are to provide programme
development and implementation guidance and scientific and technical
advice to the co-sponsoring and participating organisations and agencies
for the planning and further development of GTOS.
6.3 The short list of candidates for the Director post will be drawn up by consensus between the co-sponsoring organisations. This list will be submitted to the Director of Personnel of FAO. The final decision on the appointment of the Director will rest with the Director-General of FAO.
6.4 The Director will be responsible to the Chairman of the Steering Committee for scientific and technical tasks discharged by the GTOS Secretariat and to the Director, Research, Extension and Training Division of FAO for administrative and financial matters.
6.5 The duties of the Director shall be:
To direct the
work of the GTOS Secretariat;
of FAO shall arrange for the establishment of a GTOS Trust Fund, according
to the financial rules and regulations of the Organization, to administer
funds made available by the co-sponsoring organisations and from extra-budgetary