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GEO 2017-2019 Work Programme


Land Cover and Land Cover Change

Activity ID: 100


Understanding land cover and how it is changing is essential: these changes are happening even faster than those of climate and their impacts on the natural environment and the ecosystem services upon which humans depend are immediate. These impacts permeate many areas of interest to decision and policy makers, including water, disasters, agriculture, weather, and climate, in addition to biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecosystem services. And it is an essential input to many multilateral environmental agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals. Thus, accurate and up-to-date land cover (LC) and land cover change (LCC) products are more important than ever. The GEO Land Cover and Land Cover Change task works to improve the availability and quality of LC and LCC data by helping to convene and coordinate the various sectors of the LC community, including data providers and consumers. Stakeholders include environmental agencies, science communities, national mapping agencies, commercial users, and UN Conventions. It is envisaged to evolve into a GEO Initiative in the future.

The goals (broad primary outcomes) are as follows:

  • Operational systems that provide LC products that meet the varied needs of different users, including those at the global, regional, national, and sub-national levels;
  • Informing policy initiatives, including those from UN Conventions such as the Sustainable Development Goals, and at the national level;
  • Easy access to existing LC and LCC information, including making it easier for users to find the data that best meets their needs.

Key objectives (specific steps to towards the goals) include:

  • Development of a new path for the generation of LC products by utilizing recent advancements in science and technology;
  • Development of a coordinated LC reference database;
  • Establishment of a community-oriented global LC portal and a collaborative information service platform;
  • Development of shared tools to facilitate validation of LC datasets and that help standardize accuracy assessments.

Activities for the period

  • Synthesize the outcome of the May 2016 Rotterdam workshop into a concept and approach for development of an operational LC generation system that can meet the varied needs of users, and develop it into a journal paper.
  • Conduct survey on national requirements (reporting processes to UN Conventions and monitoring of SDGs).
  • Organize a GEO/ UN-GGIM/ISPRS training course on Global Land Cover mapping and service for developing countries (Beijing).
  • Further develop concept for a collaborative Global Land Cover Information Service System (CoGland) and publish a concept paper in the International Journal of Digital Earth.
  • Validate high spatial resolution global land cover data sets.


GOFC-GOLD, IIASA and JRC are supporters of this work through in-kind contributions.  Several projects are contributing to the activity such as the ESA Land Cover CCI, the Copernicus Global Land Monitoring Service through the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Chinese GlobeLand30 project.



Participants of the previous GEO Global Land Cover task components (GEO 2012-2015 Work Plan):

  • Task SB-02-C1 (
  • Task SB-02-C2 (
  • Task SB-02-C3 (

Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)




Implementing Entity



Brice Mora




Jun Chen


NSDI China


Andreas Brink

European Commission



Zoltan Szantoi

European Commission



Martin Herold




Steffen Fritz




Patrick Leinenkugel