GEO Youth
07 Mar 2022

GEO Youth

Young people around the world are taking action to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) values their contributions and is committed to making their voices heard and supporting their actions to make a difference through Earth observations. Through the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), a GEO participating organization, the GEO Secretariat supported YouthMappers in Africa and sponsored their participation at the GEO Plenary in Kyoto. Youth involvement has included mentoring the Water Youth Network and young Earth observation specialists, and promoting the use of Earth observations at the ISPRS Student Consortium online meeting. Since 2018, the GEO community has mentored hundreds of youth from around the world through annual Indigenous Hackathons tailored to underrepresented communities. The GEO community invites young people to contribute to improving the availability, access, and use of Earth observations for a sustainable planet.

GEO organized its first ever youth track in parallel to GEO Week 2021 (November 22-26) under the theme ‘accelerating action with youth’.GEO Week is the annual meeting of GEO members, partners and stakeholders to discuss GEO's progress and plans related to Earth observations in support of international policy on global environmental and socioeconomic challenges.

The sessions designed for the youth track were intergenerational and focused on young people involved or interested in Earth observation tools and services. It brought together different generations working in research, science, and policy to share ideas and discuss opportunities for a mutually beneficial relationship between GEO and young professionals. The exchanges also highlighted success stories from other communities on how to engage young people to achieve common goals and include the voice of youth in the GEO community.

According to Yana Gevorgyan, Director of the GEO Secretariat, GEO is ready to ‘‘integrate youth voices into the work of GEO and build a systematic, sustained relationship”.

The first day of the youth track addressed perspectives on equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) with an open discussion on how a GEO Youth Community of Practice (COP) can promote the equal inclusion of young people from diverse backgrounds into GEO´s work.

The second day featured a cross-regional dialogue between the Americas and Africa, highlighting the need for greater equity in EO tools and services for historically and/or geographically disadvantaged groups. In the discussions, facilitating networking, internships, mentorships, conferences, and other opportunities for professional growth were identified as some of the ways GEO could leverage its networks both for its own benefit and for the benefit of young professionals.

Similar to the second day, the third day was dedicated to a cross-regional dialogue between Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Asia-Oceania. An important good practice from the substantive discussion was the role of the older generation in providing a solid foundation to attract, engage, and share their knowledge and experience with Earth observation tools and services with the younger generation.

The final day reflected the outcomes of the various sessions, noting that the GEO community is committed to EDI, that young people are enthusiastic, ready to learn and proactively build their capacities in EO tools and services. In addition, all participants are willing to leverage their strengths to collaborate on the vision and mission of GEO.

The youth track ended with the official launch of the GEO Youth CoP. It is envisioned that a GEO Youth CoP can help the GEO community and young people collaborate for mutual benefit across the GEO work programme and GEO engagement priorities. To achieve this, a GEO Youth Terms of Reference (ToR) has been developed for broad review. Volunteers will then be invited to participate and take on the associated tasksIf you are interested in contributing to GEO 's youth engagement efforts, please join the virtual meeting on March 24 at 1PM CET.

To join the GEO Youth Community of Practice, please fill out this form.

For more information, please contact