Integrating Earth Observation Systems and International Environmental Regimes

In M. Onoda and O.R. Young (eds), Satellite Earth Observations and Their Impact on Society and Policy. New York, Springer, 2017, pp. 179-203.

How can we integrate Earth observation systems and international environmental regimes to enhance the role of satellite observations in solving a variety of large-scale environmental problems? This chapter examines the roles that well-tailored satellite observations can play in environmental governance and organizational and normative issues to be considered for strengthening connections between providers and users of Earth observation data. It will be important to devise and strengthen terms of engagement that allow the two communities to develop end-to-end relationships starting with the design of space missions and payloads and carrying through to the assessment of performance in addressing a variety of tasks and improving the design of future missions. In our judgment, there is room not only for minimizing tensions in the relationships between these communities but also to achieve a higher level of synergy that improves the performance of environmental regimes and solidifies support for space agencies. One practical step that may prove helpful in this context is to launch an Earth observation environmental data forum with a mandate to foster enhanced coordination between the two communities.