Canadian Space Agency, CEOS Chair 2024: “Space for Biodiversity”

At the conclusion of the 2023 CEOS Plenary hosted by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) in November, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) was honored to become Chair of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) for 2024. As is customary for a CEOS Chair, CSA in consultation with CEOS members, has developed a set of priorities for the term as Chair.

In 2019, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) noted in its Global Assessment Report that “Around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss. Without such action, there will be a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years”.

The application of satellite Earth observation for action on biodiversity conservation has long been recognised by CEOS, but the breadth of the field has hampered a focused CEOS response. In 2022, the same year that the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted, CEOS established the Ecosystem Extent Task Team to assess the utility for mapping Ecosystem Extent using current and upcoming satellite Earth observation technologies. Ecosystem Extent mapping was judged to be a pragmatic and manageable aspect of the biodiversity area for initial focus by CEOS.

Through the theme “Space for Biodiversity”, the CSA aims to structure the CEOS contribution by:

  1. Exploring a longer-term CEOS response to biodiversity;
  2. implementing the CEOS Ecosystem Extent Task Team (EETT) recommendations;
  3. Encouraging addition of specific actions/deliverables in the 2025-2027 CEOS Work Plan, that reflect a multi-year plan and implementation strategy for CEOS on biodiversity;
  4. Supporting the progress of the EETT Demonstrators and seek opportunities to promote them;
  5. Achieving a strong understanding of CEOS Agencies’ biodiversity activities, datasets, and investments;
  6. Seeking to strengthen the pool of biodiversity expertise available to CEOS; and
  7. Preparing a recommended position for a CEOS Plenary 2024 discussion on potential CEOS commitment to a broader biodiversity strategy.

As noted by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat, CEOS Agencies have been producing datasets and time series for many years that have great potential to support biodiversity monitoring and countries’ implementation of the GBF. Better connecting this data to policy processes and decision-making, as well as ensuring it is fit for purpose while addressing current gaps, will maximise the utility and societal benefit of this data.

The CSA will use its CEOS Chair year to assist in the establishment of stronger linkages between CEOS and the policy community, including in leveraging its co-location in Montreal with the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD). The CSA specifically aims to:

  1. Establish more formal ties between CEOS and the UN CBD Secretariat, UN System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), IPBES, etc.
  2. Explore the potential of a collaborative biodiversity agenda between CEOS, UN CBD, UN SEEA, and GEO (GEO BON, EBVs, GBiOS; Global Ecosystems Atlas);
  3. Gather user requirements for this domain to inform how CEOS can most effectively contribute;
  4. Promote key CEOS biodiversity-related activities (from global to local scale), datasets, and investments (individual and collective); and
  5. Increase the visibility of EO’s potential contribution to biodiversity and the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

The CSA is also strongly committed to CEOS leadership continuity and continuous improvement. As such, the CSA will support CEOS teams in advancing the workplan and finalizing any outstanding actions from the priorities set by the previous CEOS Chairs. The CSA is committed to working closely with JAXA, the new CEOS SIT Chair, continuously striving for efficiency in the vibrant, global collaborative community that is CEOS.

I wish to express my gratitude to the CEOS community for the opportunity to serve as Chair and for entrusting CEOS leadership to the CSA team for the coming year. CEOS Chairs consistently strive for CEOS member organisations to collectively create an even greater positive impact for society, and we are committed to build on this legacy.







Eric Laliberté
CEOS Chair
Canadian Space Agency