At a recent meeting for the Global Monitoring for Environment and
Security (GMES) programme, the European Space Agency (ESA) detailed
its five-year, Euro 83 million plan to establish environmental
information services from space.

The GMES programme was established by ESA and the European
Commission (EC) to exploit more effectively the potential of
satellite and other environmental monitoring systems to meet
end-user requirements. For ESA, it is the heart of a new programme
element, called GMES Services, which will support GMES priorities
in monitoring environmental stress, analysing the consequences of
climate changes and managing vital natural resources, along with
assisting in regional development and humanitarian aid.

As the first step, ESA is releasing bid invitations in early
September for GMES Services, with European end users actively
involved in formulating contract proposals. User stakeholders
that already have expressed interest in participating in the GMES
Services element include Europe-wide and national environmental
agencies, weather and climate forecasters, coastal monitoring
and other civil protection, humanitarian aid and related
non-governmental organisations, and international bodies
responsible for environmental treaties.

The bid invitations are expected to result in approximately 10
contracts valued at Euro 15 million in total. A briefing is
scheduled for 12 September 2002 at ESA’s ESRIN facility in
Frascati, Italy, to bring together potential bidders for a
question-and-answer session on the bid process. Contract
proposals are due by mid-November, with the first contracts
awarded by the end of the year.

ESA and the EC will use the contracts to help prepare a joint
report, due by December 2003, on the future of GMES for the
ESA Council and the EC Research Council.

“We are taking a bold step forward in our first call for
GMES-related tenders by specifically asking the user community
to take a leading role in the bid process, and inviting them
to partner with Europe’s foremost service providers, research
organisations and systems developers,” commented José Achache,
director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes. “We need
user-led teams to work together to consolidate Europe’s
existing environmental monitoring capabilities and kick-start
GMES into action.”

GMES is envisioned as a complete decision-support system for
use by the public and public policymakers, with the capability
of acquiring, processing, interpreting and distributing all
useful information related to the environment, risk management
and natural resources. This information is critical for the
formulation and effective implementation of EU policies, and
is a vital part of Europe’s contribution to issues affecting
the global environment and the safety of the Earth.

At the global level, GMES will provide new verification tools
to contribute to the precise monitoring of compliance with
international agreements, such as the Kyoto protocol on climate
change, as well as security and international aid agreements.
At the EU regional level, GMES will provide objective data to
support a broad range of public policies, including regional
development, transportation, agriculture and foreign policy.
At the same time, GMES will help local authorities pinpoint
problems (e.g. shoreline erosion, environmental stress) and
minimize the risks and consequences of environmental changes
on local populations.

GMES is also a cornerstone of the European space strategy
developed by EC and ESA. Along with the Galileo global satellite
navigation system, GMES is key to the realisation of a unified
space policy emerging from the ever-closer partnership between
the two organisations.

“GMES is both a technological and an organisational challenge
for Europe,” EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin told the
250 participants at the GMES Forum in Brussels, held 15-17 July
2002. “It is a good example of how Europe, by working together
in research, can develop technologies that contribute to
improving the quality of life and meeting security needs.

More information on GMES can be found at:

Related news

* Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, Europe gets ready
* ESA and the European Commission launch a consultation forum on
satellite-based Global Monitoring for Environment and Security
* ESA and the Commission kick off action plan for Global Monitoring
for Environment and Security

Related links

* Envisat
* Earth Explorer

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