Elisa Palazzi, CNR – Italy
Four of the ECOPOTENTIAL stars J, Gregory, Elisa, Ioannis and Matthias at the GEO week 2017 side event on mountains
Organized by UNEP and CNR, the side event of the GEO Plenary XIV held in Washington DC entitled “Earth Observation for achieving and monitoring mountain-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): ECOPOTENTIAL, GEO-GNOME and GEO-ECO” was an important showcase for the ECOPOTENTIAL project, to share the results achieved so far on mountain ecosystems and to strengthen the links with the two ongoing mountain-related GEO Initiatives: GEO-GNOME (the Global Network for Observations and Information on Mountain Environments) coordinated by CNR and MRI (Mountain Research Initiative) and GEO ECO (the Ecosystem Initiative) coordinated by CNR.
After opening and introducing the structure and aims of the event by Matthias Jurek (UNEP), the first part of the side event was dedicated to the presentation, held by Elisa Palazzi (CNR), of the two mountain-related Initiatives in GEO, that is, GEO-GNOME and GEO ECO. Ioannis Manakos from CERTH made a general presentation of the ECOPOTENTIAL project giving particular emphasis on practical examples of EO use for detecting changes in protected areas, with examples taken from mountains areas as Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy), Davos (Switzerland) and Bavarian Forest (Germany).
The second part of the side-event was organized in form of a panel discussion with experts working on various mountain regions worldwide on the use of EO for mountain protection, monitoring, and conservation. Marc Zebisch from EURAC focused on the European mountains, Basanta Shrestha from ICIMOD on the Hindu-Kush Himalayas, and Gregory Giuliani from GRID-Geneva on Caucasus. Roger Sayre from USGS presented the newly developed Mountain Explorer, that is, an online data viewer for the accurate delineation of mountain regions based on the use of the best available data and coverages. The floor was then opened to the audience for questions and discussion.
I personally considered the side event a good occasion to reinforce the links between the two initiatives GEO-GNOME and GEO ECO within GEO and with ECOPOTENTIAL. I found in the audience persons motivated to go ahead with these Initiatives, expressing the interest to keep informed and possibly included in the loop of progresses, discussion and future activities of both GEO Initiatives and ECOPOTENTIAL.