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Earth observation to the rescue!

In what is officially called “Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS): Achievements to date and challenges to 2025”, a staff working document of the European Commission, the Commission states that more than 200 million euros have been invested by the EU over the period 2007-2013 to GEOSS-related research and innovation activities within the Seventh Framework Programme for Community research (FP7). This estimate is conservative; my own calculation gives an investment of over 400 million euros for FP7 in the same period, which implies that the contribution to GEOSS since its inception in 2005 easily surpasses 500 million euro. What’s the purpose?

There are three main goals: creating employment, stimulating innovation and stimulating green growth. The effect on employment may be minimal: the earth observation sector (civilian applications) is and will rely on a relatively small workforce. This workforce, however, is highly educated and skilled, another area where the EU wants to excel. Innovation is definitely achievable; the challenge for the European private sector will be competitive upscaling of operational applications. And earth observation certainly contributes to green growth, although (the rate of) market expansion depends on real acceptance of green, sustainable and inclusive growth approaches, governments being the main clients. High expectations for the next 10 years of GEOSS!