IGOS homepage


Revised 27 December 2000


  IV.i . Proposing a Theme 
  IV.ii. Agreement on a Theme Proposal 
  IV.iii. Theme Report Content 
  IV.iv Agreement of a Theme Report 
  IV.v Implementation of a Theme 
  IV.vi. Assessment 
ANNEX A: IGOS-P Secretariat 


1. This document constitutes an authoritative statement on the procedures for the IGOS Partnership and covers both IGOS-P Themes and other IGOS-P activities. It was agreed at the 6th IGOS Partners meeting in November 2000 and replaces all previous IGOS-P documents on this subject. It is intended that it will be reviewed annually in the light of experience. 


2. The IGOS Partners group was created in June 1997 as a result of an informal meeting of potential Partners held in Paris. The Partnership seeks to provide a comprehensive framework to harmonize the common interests of the major space-based and in-situ systems for global observation of the Earth. Its aim is to provide an over-arching strategy for conducting observations relating to climate and atmosphere, oceans and coasts, the land surface and the Earth's interior. The Partners, through IGOS, will build upon the strategies of existing international global observing programs, and upon current achievements, in seeking to improve observing capacity and deliver observations in a cost-effective and timely fashion. Efforts will be directed to those areas where satisfactory international arrangements and structures do not currently exist. 

3. Cooperation between the Partners reflects the principle of "best efforts" and no additional financial obligation or exchange of funds except with the mutual consent of relevant Partners. The principle of "synergy" among existing efforts, including optimal use of opportunities in connection with other meetings will be followed. Biannual Partnership meetings in conjunction with the CEOS Plenary and meetings of the Sponsors' Group for the G3OS are being arranged, with the organization and reporting responsibilities resting with the hosting agency, supported by the IGOS Secretariat

4. In line with its terms of reference, the Partnership, in furthering the definition, development and implementation of an Integrated Global Observing Strategy, will 
exchange information on the Partners' relevant activities; 
promote dialogue between the space agencies and in situ observation communities; 
identify gaps and seek to address IGOS-related user requirements; 
identify requirements to strengthen institutional capacity to make integrated global observations; 
carry out specific activities to develop individual components of the strategy; 
identify and suggest projects that complement and demonstrate the value of an IGOS; and, 
promote all aspects of strategy implementation, among national and international agencies, as well as different user groups. 


5. The Partnership currently fulfills its role primarily through two focussed activities, each of which has a procedure and lead Partner(s) for its implementation. These activities are:

the theme approach to defining an Integrated Global Observing Strategy

the production of IGOS promotional material.

The current process for these two activities is set out below. For new activities a similar process would need to be developed. 

6. Progress on IGOS-P approved activities and proposals for new activities are reviewed at the meetings of the Partnership, which are currently being held biannually. In addition, procedures are now being developed to ensure the secretarial activities of the Partnership (Annex A). 


7. The theme approach to defining the overall strategy recognises that in reality it is impossible, in one step and for all eventualities, to complete the exercise of defining all the necessary observational requirements and hence the observational systems, data handling, processing and analysis infrastructure for a comprehensive global system. The theme approach allows the coherent definition and development of an overall global strategy whilst recognising the different state and stage of development in different areas. Themes have not a priori been defined, rather it is anticipated that the user communities will identify areas that require action and bring forward themes for agreement and action. 

8. On the above basis the theme approach is used as a broad strategic planning tool for agencies, and individual themes are likely to be quite broad in scope. This has been reflected in the first theme selected, which is on Oceans, and the second one on Terrestrial Carbon. However, some areas may better be tackled in steps – starting with a relatively narrow theme, which can subsequently be expanded. 

IV.i . Proposing a Theme

9. A theme should be proposed by one or more IGOS Partners, and, provided that they have a relevant contribution to make, non-IGOS Partners can be associated with the proposal. The proposal should be made in the form of a short explanatory paper submitted to the IGOS Partnership through the IGOS-P Secretariat. ( See Annex A for the current composition of the Secretariat, and its proposed terms of reference.) 

10. A theme should be based on a sound set of observational requirements that is of relevance to all the Partners involved in a proposal. A broadly based theme team is the best way of ensuring that a general consensus on observational requirements exists or can be rapidly reached. Requirements have been developed and documented by the various IGOS Partners, and the WMO holds a consolidated list of requirements that have each been approved by one or more Partners. The intention would be for a theme to be based on a consolidation of these requirements, with the addition of other formally recognised requirements e.g. from a national level or international protocols and/or conventions. If such consensus has not been achieved, then the introduction of the theme is likely to be premature. 

11. The proposal for a theme should demonstrate that the proposed theme complies with the agreed acceptance criteria which are as follows: 

1. Objectives: Theme objectives must be clearly defined and focused. Is the theme focused on applications, operational needs or research? Theme may have any focus, but it must be understood up-front which areas the theme is envisioned to coordinate and optimize. Some themes may have an existence outside their role as IGOS demonstration activities (i.e., they existed before being brought into the IGOS framework and/or may continue after contributing to IGOS). In these cases, it is important to have an understanding of the general objectives outside of IGOS and the specific objectives to be accomplished as IGOS demonstration activities. The remaining selection and evaluation criteria should be used to assess only the IGOS demonstration portions of themes. 

2. Roles and Responsibilities: The partnership roles and responsibilities between users and providers must be clearly defined in considerable detail after appropriate consultations. This should entail a specific listing of what each space agency and user organization commits to contribute to theme implementation. The listing should cover all aspects of the themes. Development of stronger and more formal institutional collaboration between space agencies and user organizations is essential. 

3. Milestones: Major milestones from theme initiation to completion must be clearly identified with concrete dates identified. The specific results or outputs that constitute completion of the IGOS demonstration task must be specified so that the end-point when a theme has successfully completed its role as an IGOS theme will be clear. 

4. Evaluation criteria: Performance criteria for evaluation of a theme's progress must be defined for each milestone. In order to evaluate the success of a theme, it is critical to have some understanding of what is expected to be achieved by what timeframe. 

5. Resources: Personnel and resources required to support implementation of a theme must be clearly defined. 

(The above criteria have been reproduce from Section IV of IGOS-P/4/DOC/08.) 

In addition, each proposal will also need to show the following: 

i. where relevant, how it interacts with other existing themes, in order to avoid potential duplication of effort. The proposal should take account of other themes already accepted by IGOS-P as well as other relevant international initiatives;

ii. the proposal should specify the team leadership. Co-leadership between a representative of a supplier of observations, and a representative of the users is an optimal solution. It should also give a preliminary list of team members and their affiliations. It is essential for the team to include all appropriate scientific expertise as well as representation from the observations providers and user organisations, both from IGOS Partners and non-Partners. Adequate expertise in Data Information Systems and Services is also essential.

iii. the proposal should describe the division of responsibilities between the team members, and give an assurance that these responsibilities are known and acceptable to the persons and organisations concerned 

iv. a team is normally expected to conclude its report in a timescale of some 12 months, and a work plan should be included to indicate how this will be achieved. 

How this is carried through to implementation is described below. 

IV.ii. Agreement on a Theme Proposal

12. A theme proposal shall be passed to the IGOS-P Secretariat which will interact with the Partners and determine whether there is sufficient support for it to be considered formally by the Partnership. The IGOS-P Secretariat will: 

(i) ensure that the proposal is prima facie consistent with the agreed acceptance criteria - which may involve a dialogue with the proposers;

(ii) transmit the validated application to the IGOS Chairman for approval to circulate to Partners; 

(iii) arrange a place on the agenda at the next Partnership meeting and the prior distribution of the document by the IGOS-P Chairman. 

13. The IGOS-P meeting will be asked to agree the proposal, and to confirm the leaders of the theme team. The team will then be responsible for developing the comprehensive statement defining the operational long-term characteristics of the observational system required to address the theme. The specific IGOS-P agreement will be set out in the minutes of the relevant IGOS Partners' meeting. Any further clarifications would be obtained from a member of the IGOS-P Secretariat. The team leaders are responsible for informing the IGOS-P Chairman if the approval conditions cannot be met, or if promised commitments do not materialise, so that appropriate measures can be taken at a subsequent Partners' meeting. 

14. Within six weeks of the theme proposal having been approved by IGOS-P, the co-leaders should notify the IGOS-P Chairman of the definitive list of team members and their responsibilities. This list, together with a description of the division of responsibilities, will be distributed to all Partners for their information. Amendments to the team's composition will be dealt with in a similar manner. This process is intended to ensure that all interested Partners, and indeed all relevant non-Partners, have the possibility of being associated with the Theme Team. 

IV.iii. Theme Report Content

15. Reports are required to be short and clear. There will be variations between themes, but 20 pages should be taken as a guide, with appendices kept to a minimum. As a guide to the report structure the Oceans theme report can be seen as a useful model. Each theme is intended to evolve as part of a complete process, with commitments not only for collecting information, but also for the assimilation of observations, for product-generation and utilisation, and for stewardship. All the various stages of this process need to be fully described in the report. 

16. The report should contain details of commitments which are in place or have been committed to within the known plans of each Partner. In the case of space observations this would be through CEOS. For in situ observations and analysis tools it could be a more complex mix of Partners. The report should specifically draw attention to elements for which satisfactory commitments are still lacking. 

17. Equally important is the inclusion of proposals for feedback mechanisms that will permit the assessment of the success of the implementation phase by analysing the adequacy of new observations and data processing, and indicating the possible need for future improvements and innovations. Data and information systems and services (DISS) are similarly of importance, and theme team leaders are recommended to become familiar with the recommendations of the IGOS-P DISS ad hoc Working Group Report (IGOS-P5/Doc.10). The relevant recommendations and guidelines from this report are included as Appendix B. 

IV.iv Agreement of a Theme Report

18. The Theme Team will present its report to an IGOS Partners' meeting, after having sent it to the Secretariat which will arrange for distribution by the IGOS-P Chairman at least five weeks before the date of the meeting. The Partners' meeting will either endorse the report and its recommendations or ask for modifications or additions to the report. The latter may require a resubmission to a new Partners' meeting, or Partners may approve the report subject to specified modifications being incorporated. 

19. The approval can never be stronger than “in principle” because responsibilities for international issues rest formally with the individual Partners, and implementation of most changes in observations rests with national or regional entities. However, approval of a theme report will be subject to a reasonable expectation that the Partners are prepared to commit themselves to the provision of the proposed observations. 

IV.v Implementation of a Theme

20. The agreement of a theme team report by the IGOS Partners will include agreement on which IGOS Partner(s) will be responsible for overseeing the implementation. This Partner will then, with the assistance of a small team, be responsible for reporting to future Partner meetings on the progress in implementation of this theme team report. It is suggested that the small group should at least include the co-leaders of the theme team. With the basic aim of ensuring that the theme team's recommendations are indeed implemented, an Implementation Team should: 

(i) monitor whether commitments are indeed being undertaken;

(ii) suggest back-up solutions where providers of observations or products are not able to maintain their commitments;

(iii) assess the extent of uptake of products by users who committed to using them; and ensure the definition of responsibilities for DISS activities following data set production, including archiving stewardship and access. 

21. An Implementation Team should submit a short report on its activities at least annually to an IGOS Partnership meeting through the IGOS-P Secretariat. IGOS-P will from time to time consider whether additional measures are necessary and, in due course, decide when the activity should be closed down. Of particular importance during the implementation phase, is the coordination with the secretariats, advisors and delegates of relevant international environment conventions, to ensure that the possibilities afforded by the theme are being fully exploited. 

IV.vi. Assessment

22. It is important to have regular assessments of the theme activities, in particular to understand the extent to which new commitments, both from observation providers and from users, have materialised, and also to allow a re-evaluation of the requirements in the light of scientific and technological advances. These assessments will constitute an important element in the theme process. The assessment mechanism will vary with the nature of the theme, but there may well be advantage in having the reports prepared independently of the theme's Implementation Team. The biannual Partnership meetings will be asked at appropriate stages to agree specific arrangements for each theme. The Partnership will be giving further consideration to this subject. 


23. The Partnership has four main activities in support of promotional activities. These are the: 

Brochure: this has been produced by an ad hoc group of Partners under the leadership of STA/NASDA. It will be reviewed as necessary and reproduced by agreement of one or more of the Partners. 

Bulletin: this is produced by CNES biannually on behalf of the Partners, and is developed by a small ad hoc group of volunteers. 

IGOS Web Pages: on behalf of IGOS-P, UNEP has a specific set of pages devoted to IGOS activities that they maintain and load (http://www.igospartners.org). These pages contain the key IGOS-P documents and can be cross-referenced or downloaded to local sites. Individual Partners are invited to provide additional material. 

Special Sessions/Exhibits: of particular importance is the provision of up-to-date information on IGOS Themes and activities of relevance to international Conventions and other related intergovernmental processes. 

24. In addition to the above, the individual Partners are all expected to include the relevant references to IGOS activities in their own promotional material and Web pages. This is an individual responsibility and an ongoing commitment. 


25. IGOS-P activities are by no means confined to themes. IGOS-P has sponsored, and will continue to sponsor, projects or other activities which either pave the way for the definition of a new theme, or else are considered to have a value in their own right. There are likely to be many such opportunities and they will be treated individually on their merits, but the following underlying principles are given for guidance both within the Partnership and to those who may wish to seek IGOS-P sponsorship of new activities:

individual Partners or groups of Partners are invited to report actions deemed relevant to the Partners. If sufficient interest is shown, then the option of having the action recognised as an IGOS activity is in place;

for an activity to be labelled an "IGOS Partners' activity", it must have been approved at a biannual meeting of the Partnership ;

non-Partners should use the Secretariat to discuss the most practical way of seeking IGOS Partners' support for their work. 


IGOS-P Secretariat

IGOS-P 6 approved the formation of a Secretariat replacing the former Liaison Group, with the following tasks: 

Maintain close liaison with the established IGOS Points-of-Contact of those Partners not specifically contributing to the Secretariat; 

Support the IGOS-P Chair in development of agendas and in drafting of meeting records for biannual IGOS Partners meetings; 

Assist the IGOS-P Chair in the interim period between IGOS Partner meetings, to include tracking of action items, and assuring the distribution and coordination of Theme Team reports and IGOS-P-relevant documents with designated Partner Points-of Contact; 

Update, as needed, the IGOS Partners working documents, e.g. Process Paper, and develop other IGOS conceptual documentation for consideration and approval by Partners; 

In line with agreed procedures, provide an effective interface between the IGOS Partners/IGOS-P Chair and IGOS Theme Teams: 

Work with Theme Team leaders to assure that themes are developed in accordance with established criteria;
Advise team leaders on establishing balanced teams, assuring that team members are approved by the IGOS-P Chair;
Assist team leaders, as appropriate, in interfaces with collaborating committees and organizations;
Assure that Theme Team reports are circulated to Partners in a timely manner for consideration at upcoming Partners' meetings; and
Assist team leaders in implementation phases, including coordination, as appropriate, with relevant international environmental conventions. 
Provide the interface between the IGOS Partners/IGOS-P Chair and other organizations in the conceptual development and implementation of IGOS-relevant activities including educational and outreach efforts, and promotion of IGOS themes; 

Assist, as needed, in liaison with institutions and user groups outside of the Partnership, including those organizations who seek to join or affiliate with the Partnership; and 

Facilitate communications among Partner Points-of-Contact through maintenance of an electronic mail list server and web site. 

The following are the current members of the Secretariat

The current IGOS-P Chair and his appointed contact 

Arthur Dahl 
Coordinator, Earthwatch 
15, Chemin des Anémones
1219 Chatelaine, Geneva
Tel : (41 22) 917 8207
E-mail : dahla @ unep.ch 

Donald E. Hinsman 
Senior Scientific Officer 
WMO Satellite Activities Office
World Meteorological Organisation
7bis, avenue de la Paix
Case Postale 2300
1211 Geneva 2 
Tel : (41 22) 730 8285
E-mail : hinsman @ www.wmo.ch 

Brent Smith
Chief, NOAA/NESDIS International and Interagency Affairs 
SSMCI, Room 7311
1335 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Tel : (1 301) 713 2024, X203
E-mail : brent.smith @ noaa.gov 

Jeff Tschirley 
GTOS Programme Director 
C/o Environment & Natural Resources Service
Research, Extension & Training Division
Sustainable Development Dept.
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome
Tel : (39 06) 570 53450
E-mail : jeff.tschirley @ fao.org 

David Williams 
Head, Strategy & International Relations 
Am Kavalleriesand, 31
D-64295 Darmstadt
Tel : (49 6151) 807 603
E-mail : dwilliams @ eumetsat.de 

José Luiz Aguirre 
Assistant to the Director, INPE 
Av. dos Astronautas, 1758
12227-010 São José dos Campos –SP
Tel : (55 12) 345 6866
E-mail : aguirre @ dir.inpe.br 

Thomas Spence 
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230
Tel : +1.703.292-5078
E-mail : tspence @ nsf.gov 



(To be added at IGOS-P 7) 

IGOS homepage
Maintained for IGOS by UN System-wide Earthwatch Coordination, UNEP Geneva