GEO Essential Variables

GEO Essential Variables


The concept of “essential variables” (EVs) is increasingly used in Earth observation communities to identify those variables that have a high impact, high feasibility and relative low cost of implementation. The Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) was the first to develop a full set of Essential Climate Variables (ECV). Other examples of communities applying the same concept include oceans (Essential Ocean Variables: BLUE-PLANET), biosphere (Essential Biodiversity Variables: GEO-BON), and the water cycle (Essential Water Variables: GEOGLOWS). ConnectinGEO illustrated that EVs can be a useful approach to several indicators for monitor Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

GEO-EV proposes to review and extend the current EVs framework and assign priorities in designing, deploying and maintaining EVs in connection with the responsible observation networks. At the same time, essential variables should be promoted among all Societal Benefit Areas (SBAs) in GEO. GEO-EV aims to be a panel of experts to discuss the current status of EVs, exchange knowledge, experiences and methodologies in EVs definition, analyze the usefulness of EVs in creating SDG indicators, and the gaps to be solved in communities in the near future. This initiative does not have the intention to interfere in the ongoing communities already working on the definition of the EVs, but to become a common forum to share expertise and to have a single voice inside GEO regarding EVs.

Planned Activities

  • Meta-coordination in the elaboration of EVs among Societal Benefit Areas. Reduce overlaps between existing and future essential variables. Share knowledge and processes for EV definition.
  • Gap analysis of EVs and observation networks.
  • Convergence of the definition of EVs across SBAs.
  • Expanding EVs to all relevant themes in Earth observation.
  • Relationship between EVs and SDGs. Further analyze the approximation of SDGs indicator’s retrieval based on the use of essential variables as a proxy.


For more information about the GEO Essential Variables please contact GEO Secretariat