GEO Week 2022 took place in Accra, Ghana, a city whose bustling energy perfectly matches the vigor and spirit of the conference itself. This year, Evenflow travelled to Ghana to present our work and to learn about the plethora of exciting Earth Observation (EO) initiatives taking place all around the world which will shape the future of the industry.
What is GEO and GEO Week?
Before discussing the event itself, firstly, let’s explain what GEO is and what it does. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is a global partnership of more than 100 national governments and over 100 participating organizations who strive to connect public bodies, key decision makers, academic and research institutions, data providers, businesses, and various experts to create and promote innovative EO solutions addressing global challenges. One of the primary goals of the entire GEO community is to create a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to better integrate various observing systems by connecting existing infrastructures using common standards.
GEO Week is designed as an opportunity for global GEO stakeholders to gather for knowledge exchange and international collaboration which includes several information sharing and decision-making sessions.
GEO Week 2022
This year’s GEO Week theme was “Global Action for Local Impact” and was heavily focused on the future direction of GEO and what this means for Africa. That being said, the applicability of EO in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which is a strategic framework for transforming the continent into an economic powerhouse and aims to help Africa meet its UN Sustainable Development Goals commitments, was an ever-present subject.
The GMES & Africa initiative, which is a long-term collaboration between Europe and Africa which aims to develop institutional, human, and technical EO capacities was highlighted as one of the most important actions in helping Africa reach its vision. The need for operational services for Africa was a central theme to many of the discussions, with the incredible capabilities of the Digital Earth Africa platform being demonstrated several times throughout the week.
Digital Earth Africa is a platform that is delivering decision-ready products which allow policy makers, scientists, and private sector stakeholders to understand and address social, environmental, and economic changes on the continent through rich EO-enabled information. For example, the platform is granting users unprecedented abilities to track water resources, coastal erosion, agricultural productivity, and even illegal mining all over Africa easily and openly.
Evenflow, represented by Dáire Boyle, was selected this year to present our activities in the Industry Track session. Dáire gave the audience an overview of Evenflow’s various activities and then focused a little more on e-shape, which has particular relevance to GEO as it is a flagship European project which aims to contribute to the establishment of EuroGEO. This will be the Europe specific element of the GEO ecosystem which aims to combine existing and future European EO assets, initiatives, and applications to support governments in decision making, boost innovation and improve the lives of European citizens.
After his presentation, Dáire answered questions from a panel of experts on some of our work, who were particularly interested in how we approach our analysis and how we communicate the value EO data brings through our Sentinel Benefits Study activities. He also spoke about the importance of new EO-enabled Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) monitoring and reporting capabilities which are being studied within the eOrigins project.
And a little bit of fun too…
Of course, the week was not all speeches, presentations, and business card exchanges… some time was also taken to experience the sights and sounds of Accra! Several local highlights were enjoyed, including fufu (a local food made of cassava and plantain), the nightlife of Oxford Street in the popular Osu district and the boisterous markets selling everything from hand carved statues, to refreshing coconuts and with a palpable atmosphere already evident in the country due to the imminent World Cup kick-off, many vendors were furiously selling official (and unofficial J) Ghana jerseys!