The five year plan for the 83 million euro GMES (global monitoring for environment and security) programme established by the European Commission and the European space agency (ESA) was explained at a meeting during August. The first major step to be taken is a call for bids in early September 2002 for GMES services. These will focus on monitoring environmental stress, analysing the consequences of climate change, managing vital natural resources and assisting with regional development and humanitarian aid. Once the bids have been assessed, 10 contracts worth a total of 15 million euro will be awarded. Those who are interested in bidding can attend an information day being held in Frascati, Italy on 12 September. The outcome of the bids will form part of the content of a report on GMES progress which both the European Commission and ESA will prepare and submit to the Research Council and the ESA Council by December 2003. 'We are taking a bold step forward in our first call for GMES-related tenders by specifically asking the user community to take a leading role in the bid process and inviting them to partner with Europe's foremost service providers, research organisations and system developers,' said ESA's director of Earth observation programmes, José Achache.