European Union’s leading role in observing our Planet Earth

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European Union
European Union

EARTH observation plays a crucial role when it comes to driving productivity and sustainable economic growth around the world. Ministers, representatives and Member Countries recently came together during the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) week in Canberra.

From 4 to 9 November 2019, the Deputy Director-General of the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Department Patrick Child led the Commission delegation at the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Week 2019 in Canberra. Ministers, high-level GEO-representatives and Member Countries met to review and further plan the implementation of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), a system that provides open and unrestricted access to millions of observation data. About 1,500 participants attended the different events, culminating in the Ministerial Summit on 8 November 2019. The Ministerial Summit endorsed the Canberra Ministerial Declaration that provides guidance for the GEO activities for the time period of 2020 until 2025, including an explicit reference to the Paris Agreement.

The European Union is a driving force within GEO and contributes actively to the international effort, which has resulted in a stronger transnational collaboration in Earth observation activities all around the world. The EU Research and Innovation programmes have been essential in building the GEOSS – they have invested more than €200 million between 2007 and 2013 and continue to support through Horizon 2020 activities.

Tangible benefits

The EU-funded APOLLO project is an example of how the European Union invests in Earth Observation all around the globe. The APOLLO project leveraged the free and open Earth Observation data provided by the European Union, to bring the benefits of precision agriculture to farmers through a commercial service platform, known as FARMINTEL. Responding to a series of challenges faced by the agricultural sector as a whole, and smallholder farmers in particular, FARMINTEL supports them at all stages of the growing cycle and helps them make better decisions and use their resources more efficiently. Through the six services that were designed within APOLLO and are now provided through FARMINTEL, namely tillage and irrigation scheduling, crop growth monitoring, crop yield estimation, weather forecast and farm management zoning, farmers receive valuable information about field operations that improve their daily workflows and become more efficient. Thus, small farmers have the opportunity to lower their costs, as they can use their resources, such as water, fertiliser or seeds, more efficiently. This in return can lead to less farm inputs and higher yields, which increases competitiveness and profitability for the farmers.

The European Union awarded €1.7 million to the APOLLO project, which was coordinated by Greece, with further participants being Spain, Austria, Serbia and Belgium. The project started in May 2016 and finished in February 2019.

– Dec. 17, 2019 @ 17:29 GMT

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