International Engagement

GEO Week 2019: the annual GEO Week, and 4-yearly Ministerial Summit, is one of the world’s largest gatherings of EO practitioners and policy makers.

The Centre for Earth Observation maintains an active presence and leadership role on key international earth observation coordination bodies on behalf of CSIRO and Australia. Australia’s representation in both key international fora is a ‘team effort’ – CSIRO is lead for Australia in CEOS; Geoscience Australia (GA) is lead for Australia in GEO. A national GEO/CEOS office supports Australia’s participation in GEO and CEOS leadership & governance, engages the Australian EO community in GEO/CEOS and fosters GEO’s objectives generally through advocacy of EO and the work of GEO.

Membership of International Earth Observation Organisations

Committee on Earth Observation Satellites

The Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) is an international organisation involving 60 agencies operating 156 satellites. Its mission is to ensure international coordination of civil space-based EO programs, and advocacy of the free and open exchange of data, to optimise societal benefit and inform decision making for securing a prosperous and sustainable future for humankind.

CEOS is an international body which coordinates a range of space-based EO capabilities and activities, with participants that develop, operate and support civil EO satellites. The work of CEOS ranges from the development of detailed technical standards for data product exchange, through to the establishment of high-level inter-agency agreements on common data policies for different applications areas.

CSIRO is an active member of CEOS and leads Australia’s engagement in this forum, that includes the widest global membership of civilian government EO satellite agencies.

At the 33rd CEOS Plenary, CSIRO became the new SIT (Strategic Implementation Team) Chair 2020-21, together with Geoscience Australia (GA): SIT is the machinery of CEOS and provides ongoing  strategic guidance on the direction, progress, and status of agreed implementation activities in relation to the established priorities, commitments, and partnerships of the CEOS organisation.

Attendees of the 33rd CEOS Plenary in Hanoi, Vietnam

Over the upcoming two years, we intend to support mainly 3 priorities (see our presentation) :

  1. Implementation of a CEOS ARD (Analysis Ready Data) Strategy for space agencies,
  2. Improved coordination of  satellite-based observations of the earth’s carbon & biomass stocks,
  3. Continue to support CEOS activities linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

See more information about our first SIT meeting (planned in Hobart) held virtually due to the exceptional global health crisis late March 2002.

On top of this, CSIRO’s roles in CEOS include:

  • Former CEOS Chair, with the 30th Plenary held in Brisbane (2016)
  • Chair (2018-2020) of the Working Group on Calibration & Validation (WGCV): The objective of the WGCV is to ensure long-term confidence in the accuracy and quality of EO data and products and to provide a forum for the exchange of information about calibration and validation, including the coordination of cooperative activities.
  • Chair (2019-2021) of the Working Group on Information Systems and Services (WGISS): The activities and expertise of WGISS span the full range of the information life cycle from the requirements and metadata definition for the initial ingestion of satellite data into archives through to the incorporation of derived information into end-user applications.
  • Co-Lead of the Ad Hoc Team on Sustainable Development Goals (AHT-SDG): The AHT-SDG works to connect satellite EO with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and contributed to the Earth Observations in Support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development report.
  • Co-lead of the sub-Ad Hoc Team on Land Degradation Neutrality

CEOS SIT-34 group photo Miami

Group on Earth Observations

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is an intergovernmental organisation working to improve the availability, access and use of EO for the benefit of society. GEO works to actively improve and coordinate global EO systems and promote broad, open data sharing. GEO’s global priorities include supporting the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

GEO consists of 105 member countries and 127 participating organisations. CSIRO is a member of the Australian government delegation together with Geoscience Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology. Geoscience Australia currently leads Australia’s engagement in this forum and is GEO Executive Committee member for 2018.  As vice-Chair of CEOS SIT, CSIRO is also a member on the GEO Executive Committee, as well as a member of the GEOGLAM Advisory Committee.

The theme for GEO Week 2019 and Ministerial Summit was to bolster investment and support for EO.

CSIRO’s roles include:

  • CEOS representative at GEO Executive Committee meetings
  • GEO Programme Board
  • GEO Expert Advisory Group
  • GEO EO4SDG Initiative
  • GEO Land Degradation Neutrality Initiative
  • Other GEO initatives with CSIRO participation:
    • GEOGLAM (specifically with RAPP)
    • GFOI
    • Blue Planet
    • AquaWatch
    • GEO BON
  • Annual attendance at the GEO Plenary to report on activities, organise and participate in side-meetings (SDGs, Open Data Cube, ARD, Commercial egagement)
  • GEO Ministerial Summit (every 4 years) and Plenary was held in Canberra, 4-9 November 2019: led by Geoscience Australia assisted with CCEO contributions

Attendees interacting with the demonstrations from product providers at the EO 2.0 Workshop held during GEO Week 2019

Bilateral and Regional Parterships

The Centre manages several bilateral agreements which have been signed (or in discussion) with space agencies around the world:

Some agreements cover all EO activities, and others are dedicated to NovaSAR and other SAR data or technology exchange.

The Centre often hosts international delegations and contributes to several international workshops, meetings and events. These provide opportunities for side-meetings, signing, reinforcing partnerships, discussing opportunities and forging collaborations. Our geographic focus is on the Asia Pacific region. Recent and current initiatives include:

  • SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) workshop in Suva (Fiji), November 2019
  • Earth Observation for Pacific – workshop held in Brisbane, October 2018
  • Open Data Cube for Vietnam – regular capability building workshops

Pacific panel, EO for Pacific Workshop, Brisbane October 2018

Management of Capability and Space Science Applications

Our work in space applications is international in nature, including

  • NovaSAR-1, which is a partnership with the UK, India and the Philippines
  • Open Data Cube, which involves the USA and many other countries