GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is an EU-led initiative. Its goal is to ensure publicly available geo-spatial information on a global, regional and local basis specifically needed by government decision makers. It will have a wide range of uses ranging from emergency services in Europe and world-wide through to climate change and environment treaties. Started in 1998 at Baveno, a growing number of services have been developed based on existing data sources in preparation for the launch of the first satellites in 2013. The whole system comprises 3 basic elements:

Main Institutional Actors

European Commission

The coordination and management of the GMES programme is ensured by the European Commission. The setting up of initial versions of the GMES services have been assigned to several projects partly financed through the 7th Research and Development Framework Programme of the European Union, while the developments related to the observation infrastructure are performed under the aegis of the European Space Agency for the space component (i.e. Sentinel missions) and of the European Environment Agency and the Member States for the in situ component. The sustainability of the GMES operational services will be ensured through public funding from EU, intergovernmental agencies, and Member States. Considered as "public goods", these services should be accessible to any organisation or citizen.

In practice, GMES consists in a complex set of systems which collects data from multiple sources (earth observation satellites and in situ sensors such as ground stations, airborne and sea-borne sensors), processes these data and provides users with reliable and up-to-date information through the services mentioned above. Some of these systems and data sources already exist today, as well as prototype services but many developments are still required in all domains.

Policymakers and public authorities, the major users of GMES, will use the information to prepare environmental legislation and policies with a particular focus on Climate Change, monitor their implementation and assess their effects. GMES also supports the critical decisions that need to be made quickly during emergencies, such as when natural or man-made catastrophes and humanitarian crises occur.

Users will be provided with information through services dedicated to a systematic monitoring and forecasting of the state of the Earth's subsystems. Six thematic areas are developed: marine, land, atmosphere, emergency, security and climate change. A land monitoring service, a marine monitoring service and an atmosphere monitoring service contribute directly to the monitoring of climate change and to the assessment of mitigation and adaptation policies. Two additional GMES services address respectively emergency response (e.g. floods, fires, technological accidents, humanitarian aid) and security-related aspects (e.g. maritime surveillance, border control). GMES services are all designed to meet common data and information requirements and have global dimension.

European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) as well as being responsible for the space component including the Sentinel satellites has also organised considerable work in preparation for GMES Services. A full description of the work done is available via the ESA GMES Services overview. A number of GMES Service Elements have been run as projects: 

  • Polar Monitoring (Polar View)
  • Marine and Coastal (MARCoast)
  • Disaster Response and Humanitarian Aid (RESPOND)
  • Land Motion and Geohazards (TerraFirma)
  • Risk Monitoring (RiskEos)
  • Forest Monitoring
  • Land Monitoring
  • Food Security

and the final reports can be downloaded from the ESA web-site.

European Environment Agency

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