EU research results


English EN
Coordinating and integRating state-of-the-art Earth Observation Activities in the regions of North Africa, Middle East, and Balkans and Developing Links with GEO related initiatives towards GEOSS

Coordinating and integRating state-of-the-art Earth Observation Activities in the regions of North Africa, Middle East, and Balkans and Developing Links with GEO related initiatives towards GEOSS

English EN

Meeting regional needs with Earth Observation services and data

Mindful of the saying, ‘if you can’t measure, you can’t manage’ and with so many challenges transboundary in nature, how do decision-makers acquire relevant data? GEO-CRADLE highlights Earth Observation cooperation as a way forward for multiple regional benefits.


© Vladi333, Shutterstock
Earth observation (EO) uses remote sensing to collate information about the biological, chemical and physical characteristics of Earth systems. With increased sophistication, technologies can monitor system changes, such as those associated with climate change. This knowledge can help mitigate negative social, economic and environmental impacts (e.g. through Disaster Risk Reduction), while increasing positive impacts such as those outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. The more comprehensively EO data is coordinated and integrated across countries, the greater its potential. The EU-supported project, GEO-CRADLE was established to bring together EO stakeholders and activities across North Africa, Middle East, and the Balkans (NAMEBA) to expand the region’s collective capacity. Roadmap to cooperation The GEO-CRADLE project conducted the first inventory of available EO capacity (space/air-borne, ground-based/in-situ monitoring, modelling and computing) in the NAMEBA region. This enabled a needs analysis, gaps analysis and Priorities Action Plan to be completed, drawing on 93 interviews across 14 countries, with 19 regional workshops and exchanges. Complementing this methodology were national EO Maturity Assessments, capturing the level and progress of each country's EO involvement. These assessments entailed a set of 32 indicators across 3 main fields: Capacities, Cooperation and National Uptake and Awareness, and were applied in 11 countries, helping decision makers allocate resources. The project found that: countries with a designated Space Authority and close ESA ties tend to have more coordinated capacities, those with long-term involvement in the EU’s Copernicus programme or the GEO consortium rank higher in cooperation and uptake, and the EO sector’s maturity is driven by investments and connectivity among its actors. To showcase specific ways in which EO services could help tackle regional challenges, the project conducted pilots in four thematic areas identified as key regional priorities: Adaptation to Climate Change, Improved Food Security – Water Extremes Management, Access to Raw Materials and Access to Energy. “We demonstrated that when equipped with information, stakeholders can maximise the impact of EO activities for decision-making about agriculture, energy or water management for example, or to boost EO businesses,” says project coordinator Dr Haris Kontoes, Research Director of NOA. The pilots have attracted significant interest from companies willing to invest and support practical initiatives based on their results. The project also launched a Regional Data Hub providing access to regionally specific information with millions of datasets, 45 regional portals and sites (including the four pilots), to encourage the long-term uptake of EO activities. “By offering this free, open, constantly updated, one-stop shop, GEO-CRADLE has put into practice Data Sharing Principles. We have also initiated synergies with other platforms and initiatives, such as NextGEOSS,” says Dr Kontoes. To help cultivate these synergies, GEO-CRADLE created a Networking Platform presenting the current status of regional capacity, to facilitate strategic networking amongst members. The platform currently has just under 300 EO stakeholder profiles, from 29 countries. Lastly, the team also delivered a Sustainability Plan and a Roadmap for the future implementation/uptake of GEO/GEOSS and Copernicus in the NAMEBA region, with an Action Plan leading to 2030. From conception, through implementation, GEO-CRADLE was guided by the strategic priorities of the EO community, such as GEO’s work to implement the GEOSS system and efforts to implement Copernicus. As a measure of this contribution, GEO-CRADLE is now a GEO Initiative and will extend services geographically (Black Sea) and thematically, in support of three priorities: Climate Change, Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals.


GEO-CRADLE, SDGs, DRR, environment, earth observation, data, satellites, climate change, water, energy, food security, agriculture

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 690133

  • Start date

    1 February 2016

  • End date

    30 November 2018

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 3 030 800

  • EU contribution

    € 2 910 800

Coordinated by: