IGOS Partnership Forum during the UNISPACE III Conference
Vienna, Austria, 21 July 1999


The Forum Presentations
Organized by
Conclusions and Proposals presented to UNISPACE III


The IGOS Partnership Forum was held during the Technical Forum at the UNISPACE-III Conference in Vienna, Austria, on 21 July 1999. Through the IGOS Forum, the IGOS Partnership promoted the IGOS concept and sought wider participation and commitment to a global observing strategy.

Specifically the Forum:

  informed national governments, through the UNISPACE III Delegations, about IGOS and its constituent Organizations and Programmes, as well as the present joint efforts on synergy and cooperation amongst the Partners;

  presented to UNISPACE III Delegations the practical implications of the implementation of an IGOS;

  presented its Conclusions and Proposals to UNISPACE III and obtained recognition for the IGOS initiative in the Vienna Declaration adopted by the Conference.


The Forum included the following keynotes and programme presentations from different space agencies, international organizations and the science community, addressing the various elements of IGOS. A Panel discussion featured representatives from IGOS Partner organizations and the user and donor community, who responded to questions and shared their ideas and concepts for furthering IGOS into the new millennium. A report on the conclusions and proposals of the Forum was presented to the Conference. [Links will be provided to the texts of the presentations as they become available.]

Inauguration of the IGOS Partnership Forum by the Chairman, Prof. John R.G. Townshend, University of Maryland, USA and Vice-Chairman, Dr. He Changchui, FAO

Keynote Address:
IGOS as a Way of Living and Working Together  Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar, Associate Administrator for Earth Science, NASA


Climate Research the World Over and IGOS from a Science Perspective  Dr. Hartmut Grassl, Director, World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)

Global Observations: Responding to User Needs  Dr. Arthur Lyon Dahl, Coordinator UN System-wide Earthwatch, UNEP

CEOS and the perspective of an IGOS  Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, Chairman, ISRO; Former CEOS Chair [GRAPHIC PRESENTATION]

IGOS Perspective of the International Group of Funding Agencies (IGFA) Dr. Thomas W. Spence, Vice-Chair WG Data and Observations, IGFA

Lessons learned in IGOS through the World Weather Watch Dr. Robert Landis, Director, World Weather Watch Department, WMO - [ TEXT OR GRAPHIC PRESENTATION]


Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Dr. Alan R. Thomas, Director, GCOS Programme Office, WMO

Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) Dr. He Changchui, Chief, Environment and Natural Resources Service, FAO

Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) Dr. Patricio Bernal, Assistant Director-General, UNESCO; Executive Secretary, IOC-UNESCO

Global Observing Systems Space Panel (GOSSP) Dr. Francis Bretherton, Chairman, GOSSP

Implementing IGOS Mr. Robert Winokur, Chairman, CEOS Strategic Implementation Team (SIT), NOAA

Panel Discussion:

The IGOS Forum Panel discussed the overall framework of IGOS, including the links between the political and socio-economic drivers and the underpinning observation programmes. It showed how IGOS is coordinating effective and authoritative earth observing mechanisms at national, regional and global levels in, among others, the context and framework of the UNISPACE III follow-up.

Panel Members:
Chairman: Dr. Tillmann Mohr, Director EUMETSAT; Chairman CEOS
Vice-Chairman: Prof. John R. G. Townshend, Chairman IGOS-P Forum
Dr. Marcio N. Barbosa, Director-General, INPE, Brazil
Dr. Arthur L. Dahl, Coordinator UN System-wide Earthwatch, UNEP
Dr. Brian J.J. Embleton, Executive Director, Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems (CRCSS), Australia
Dr. Patricio Bernal, Assistant Director-General, UNESCO; Executive Secretary, IOC- UNESCO
Dr. He Changchui, Chief, Environment and Natural Resources Service, FAO
Dr. Evans Mukolwe, Director, Meteorological Department, Kenya; WMO Representative
Mr. Christian Patermann, Director, Environment and Sustainable Development, 5th Framework Programme, European Commission

Rapporteurs: Ms. Leslie B. Charles, NASA HQ; Mr. Mukund Rao, ISRO.

Conclusions and Proposals of the IGOS Forum  presented to UNISPACE III


Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, which resulted in Agenda 21, an active process of structured coordination and synergistic convergence concerning global, regional and national efforts in environmental data collection, analysis and synthesis has increasingly gathered momentum. Independently, a number of substantial cooperative mechanisms were established in response to the Agenda 21 recommendations and requirements for better environmental information at national, regional and global levels.

The Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) intends to unite the major satellite and surface-based systems for global environmental observations of the atmosphere, oceans and land. It is a strategic planning process, involving many partners, that links research, long-term monitoring and operational programmes, as well as data producers and users, in a framework that delivers maximum benefit and effectiveness.

IGOS focuses primarily on the observing dimension of the process of providing environmental information for decision-making. The strategy covers 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 recognizes that data collection must be user driven, leading to information products that increase scientific understanding and guide early warning, policy-setting and decision-making for sustainable development and environmental protection.


IGOS provides the framework that enables data suppliers to respond to requirements that have been set by users. It involves processes that determine deficiencies, identify resources to remedy such deficiencies, and improve not only the observational programmes but also the various stages through which space- and ground-based observations are turned into useful information products. Finally the products and observations are monitored and analyzed to ensure they are fulfilling their goals.

The components of IGOS have considerable strategic importance, cutting across all observing activities. Major thrusts of IGOS, as it proceeds, will include: strengthening space-based/in situ linkages to improve the balance between satellite remote sensing and ground- or ocean-based observing programmes; encouraging the transition from research to operational environmental observations within appropriate institutional structures; improving data policies and facilitating data access and exchange; stimulating better archiving of data to build the long-term time series necessary to monitor environmental change; and increasing attention to harmonization, quality assurance and calibration/ validation so that data can be used more effectively.


Lines of communication and dialogue are being established with the principal user groups and institutions to determine the needs for global environmental information for decision-making, including: international decision-making bodies such as the UN General Assembly, the Commission on Sustainable Development, and the conferences of parties to international and regional conventions; international organizations, convention secretariats, and international scientific advisory processes; national governments and their relevant ministries; decision-makers and senior advisors; the scientific community and international research programmes; the private sector; non-governmental and public service organizations; the media, journalists, and others specialized in communications; the general public, grass-roots users and major groups.


IGOS represents the convergence of several processes and inter-governmental mechanisms that value the benefit of coordinating the observation and utilisation strategies for global and local specific actions for managing the environment. Over the past decade, efforts towards harmonising the activities for a global observation strategy have been under consideration by various space agencies and international organizations. Primary amongst these have been the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), which coordinates national and regional space-based earth observation programmes and data dissemination services; the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which coordinate and integrate research programmes on global change; the International Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research (IGFA), which encourages and promotes global change research in national mechanisms; the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO-IOC) and UNESCO itself, the International Council for Science (ICSU), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which jointly sponsor the development and implementation of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) to organise global-scale operational observations of the climate, oceans and terrestrial surface.

In 1998, these governmental and inter-governmental agencies have formed an IGOS Partnership with a view to further the definition, development and implementation of an Integrated Global Observing Strategy. Towards this end, the IGOS Partnership 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. The Partnership proposes to assess gaps in observations for user needs and seeks to address in a structured way the various user requirements. The IGOS Partnership also aims to promote all aspects of the strategy implementation, among national and international agencies, as well as different user groups.

IGOS encourages the use of modular approaches to strategies for specific components, elements or processes that need to be integrated. More detailed strategies exist or are being developed for a number of sub-components. The CEOS Strategic Implementation Team is taking the lead in developing the space component of an IGOS, while the G3OS and their sponsors will prepare an in situ component during 1999. 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. Thus, in an integrated manner, the IGOS Partners are planning the effective combining of space and ground observations and the effective utilization systems for monitoring and managing the climate, terrestrial surface and oceans.

The IGOS Partners are also considering thematic approaches to particular categories, crosscutting themes or domains of observations. This can assure some coherence in the IGOS approach to different issues, while achieving a focus on specific priorities, such as oceans, disaster management, or carbon storage and cycling, with the potential to progress rapidly through joint planning activities.

Most environmental observations come from national activities contributed by national governments through their agencies, ministries and research programmes, and their commitment is essential to the effective implementation of IGOS. Building support for and participation in IGOS processes at the national level is a major activity for IGOS.

Identification of gaps to be filled and activities to be strengthened is another continuing function of IGOS. The Global Observing Systems Space Panel (GOSSP) assists this process. A next step will be to use existing and, as necessary, new structures to achieve the continuing implementation of IGOS.

The Forum was organized by The IGOS Partnership
Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS)
Sponsors of the G3OS (ICSU, FAO, UNEP, IOC of UNESCO, UNESCO, WMO)
Programme Offices of GCOS, GTOS and GOOS
International Group of Funding Agencies (IGFA)
International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP)
World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)
Coordination: Jelle U. Hielkema, Senior Remote Sensing Officer, FAO
In collaboration with: UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)

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