With the signing of Cooperation Arrangements with Brazil, Chile, Colombia and India, following those already in place with the United States and Australia, one-third of the world’s population has privileged access through high bandwidth connections to our free and open data and information.
The governments, local authorities, academics, researchers and businesses from these six partner countries are also able to benefit from our environmental and climate monitoring, emergency management or disaster risk reduction services.
On 8 March I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I had the honour to sign, on behalf of the European Commission, arrangements with three Latin American countries. Today, in Bangalore, I sealed a historical rapprochement in Earth Observation between the European Union, the world’s second space power and India who proudly features in the top six space-faring nations.
These landmark agreements guarantee the free, full and open access of these partner countries to the data of Europe’s operational fleet of Earth Observation and monitoring satellites and to the information and forecasts from our Copernicus services. Meanwhile, our programme will gain reciprocical access to observations and archives from India’s and Brazil’s non-commercial remote sensing satellites. These Cooperation Arrangements also give Copernicus an extended reach in terms of data gathering, in particular through availability of in situ data for the calibration and validation of our satellite data.
Why are these agreements important?
- Firstly, because they illustrate the truly global nature of Copernicus. Our programme is global not only in terms of its observational capacities but also because its environmental and socio-economic benefits are being shared with stakeholders across the globe. Climate Change sources and impacts do not stop at the borders of the EU, obviously, while the Union, as a global soft power, is committed to sharing data and information that can be used for the preservation of the environment, the understanding, monitoring and mitigation of Climate Change, the development of knowledge-based societies as well as to economic and human development;
- Secondly, because some of the most vital and endangered ecosystems of our planet are located in or near our partner countries: the Amazon rainforest, Antarctica, the Arctic, the Ganges delta, for example, are prone to natural or environmental disasters that Copernicus can help to prepare for or respond to;
- Finally, because Earth Observation open data has become a tool of economic development which can benefit EU and partner countries businesses and entrepreneurs through increased collaboration and partnerships.
These agreements include provisions for the development of information sharing, of joint new products, and to facilitate collaborative ventures between the private sector actors from the six Partner Countries and Copernicus Participating Countries (EU28 + Norway and Iceland). They are based on the principle of ‘no exchange of funds’ of as each side will finance its own activities.
In two weeks, thanks to the hard work of the teams from all involved parties, we have been able to include 1.6 billion new potential users or beneficiaries in the already well developed Copernicus ecosystem. This is something that we can be proud of, as Europeans and as citizens of the world.