38th CEOS Strategic Implementation Team Meeting

ESA was delighted to host the 38th CEOS Strategic Implementation Team (SIT-38) meeting on 29-30 March 2023 at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy. SIT-38 was the first face-to-face based meeting of the SIT since SIT-34, hosted by NOAA in Miami, USA in April 2019. The two-day meeting was attended by more than 70 in person, with a further 50 joining remotely, successfully building on the virtual meeting practice established during the CSIRO / Geoscience Australia SIT Chair term (2020-2021). Simonetta Cheli, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, opened the meeting which focused on optimising the support Earth observation can provide to societal challenges and global agendas, and how CEOS and its agencies can foster partnerships with key implementers in the community (e.g. the Group on Earth Observations, UN Agencies) and industry (including ‘New Space’).

Participants at CEOS SIT-38 Meeting (ESA/ESRIN March 2023)

A full session was held on CEOS engagement with the Global Stocktake (GST) process, a key component of the Paris Agreement. The first GST will take place in 2023, and CEOS has been laying the groundwork to promote the role of Earth observations via the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Task Team, and the Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) Roadmap Team. At SIT-38, the work of the Ocean Colour Radiometry Virtual Constellation (OCR-VC) on the development of an Aquatic Carbon Roadmap Proposal was presented, and follow-up actions were agreed to assess the resources required to develop such a Roadmap.

In addition, the CEOS connection to several related key activities was revisited, including  WMO’s GHG Initiative (including results from the recent WMO International Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Symposium), GEO-TREES Forest Biomass Reference System (which seeks to implement the recommendations of the CEOS Aboveground Biomass Land Product Validation protocol), and the International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO). A 2023 edition of the CEOS EO Handbook will focus on capturing current and future support from satellite Earth observation to the Global Stocktake.

CEOS Principals discussed CEOS support for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including support for 2023 deliverables in the CEOS Work Plan and sustaining CEOS support for 2024 and beyond. Outcomes from the recent UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) were discussed, and CEOS affirmed its support to developing the role of Earth observations in supporting this activity via the ​​Ecosystem Extent Task Team (EETT) which was established at CEOS Plenary 2022, with co-leads from CNES, NASA, CSIRO, and USGS.

CEOS ocean-related activities were the focus of a dedicated session, including the accomplishments over the past five years of the COVERAGE initiative. The Ocean Coordination Group continues to consider how CEOS groups and the CEOS-COAST initiative can most effectively work together to support the UN Decade of Ocean Science and the Paris Agreement. The Ocean Coordination Group is expected to bring a plan to the 2023 CEOS Plenary.

The meeting also covered activities related to industry and New Space, with more CEOS agencies sharing their past experience and industry-related activities. The CEOS New Space Task Team presented their progress towards a decision on next steps at the 2023 CEOS Plenary. It was noted that there are several ongoing CEOS activities which are complementary, including the Working Group on Calibration and Validation’s (WGCV) EO Product Quality Assurance framework, the CEOS Interoperability Framework, and engagement with Standards Organisations (including the OGC ARD SWG). The New Space Task Team will consider how these activities fit in the overall CEOS approach.

Several other important topics were discussed at the meeting:

  • The Working Group on Capacity Building and Data Democracy (WGCapD) presented an update on progress towards the EOTEC DevNet Sustainability Plan.
  • The Precipitation Virtual Constellation (P-VC) highlighted potential gaps that could impact precipitation observation and product continuity, with further follow-up needed.
  • A new Rapid Response for Food Security initiative from GEOGLAM was presented, and CEOS was invited to consider engaging and contributing to its establishment process.
  • Updates from GEO Secretariat in relation to the Post-2025 Strategy, a discussion around how CEOS will engage with GEO Post-2025, and GEO activities related to CEOS.
  • The portfolio of CEOS Systems Engineering Office support was presented, along with potential updates to the CEOS Communications Strategy.

SIT-38 was an important step in rebuilding the energy and momentum in the CEOS community following several years of virtual meetings. While virtual meetings have enabled a greater number and variety of participants, ultimately CEOS is community driven, and so the opportunity to bring together contributors and collaborators is crucial to fostering progress in the field of Earth observation. ESA looks forward to welcoming the community back to ESRIN for the 2023 SIT Technical Workshop, to be held October 17-19.


ESA SIT Chair Team