The project’s goal is to develop methodologies and analytical tools to assess the economic, social and environmental effects of improved quantitative and qualitative information delivered by the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) for the nine benefit areas of GEO. Global earth observation systems have considerably increased mankind’s capability to understand the physical world which surrounds us. New information technology allows us to shape the future of global society. GEOSS appears as a promising means to measure and to contribute to managing risks arising in the nine benefit areas, altogether avoiding it at times. Our understanding of human preferences through the study of behavioural psychology and economics has also helped us understand ways in which citizens perceive risk and manage it in their lives and provide normative guidance on increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of management. Yet the increasing complexity of modern life is going to require new – and different - ways to share burdens of managing risks ex ante nationally and internationally. GEO information will be crucial in accompanying this process by providing direct and indirect utility in terms of improved understanding of processes and better planning. Likewise the efficiency and effectiveness of ad hoc intervention measures adapting to global risks associated with the nine benefit areas can considerably be enhanced based on more knowledge and on-line supporting data.
Scientists and practitioners around the globe are searching for options to perfect management systems in the nine benefit areas identified by GEO. Both in the EU as well as internationally there is a shortage of analytical tools to quantify reliably and in an integrated manner economic, social and environmental effects of GEOSS. Therefore, the impact of this project on both long- and short-term planning of Earth system policies can be considered substantial. It is thus the prime objective of the proposed research to develop an operational cluster of models to support the international policy processes associated with the nine benefit areas. The application and the development of the models should directly lead to robust policy conclusions pertinent to measures, in particular their implementation schedule, in the affected economic and social sectors vis-à-vis measures taken to improve earth system management based on an improved GEOSS.
The overall objective is to develop analytical tools to assess in a geographically explicit fashion the economic, social and environmental benefits of improved information provided in the context of GEOSS in the short and long-term in a transparent and consistent way. This should support the formulation and implementation of policies and measures associated with the further development of GEOSS in a way that maximizes its benefit to society, including by assisting in the implementation of international commitments, such as the Millennium Development Goals.
In order to achieve the operational goals of the objective the following means have to be considered. A comprehensive and consistent benefit assessment has to be built on a solid scientific concept embracing appropriate knowledge and independent observations from in situ studies/measurements and high quality auxiliary spatial data. System and data integrity is an important requirement, together with the efficient application of data such as Geographic Information System (GIS) data related to topography, soil, vegetation, land-use, land cover, forest inventory, region boundaries, other land and landscape information all the way to spatially explicit socio-economic data, which are currently in development. By making extensive use of spatial data we hope to be able to reap the benefits from the huge investment on the part of the GEO partner systems and networks in the collection of consistent spatial explicit data. The subsequent and parallel steps to massive database work is the construction of consistent baselines for all spatial units 4
in order to provide a solid basis for assessment of additionality in GEO-benefits in both environmental and financial terms. A comprehensive inventory of benefit enhancement option shall be built applying a value of information analysis approach based on the achievements of the GEO 10 year Implementation Plan. Each benefit enhancement option based on improved GEOSS will be appraised according to its relative “competitiveness” using a wide variety of tailored models and environmental management criteria that are created in a number of different international agreements. After the application of benefit enhancement algorithms to each geographic unit and sub-benefit area “benefit landscapes” (direct impacts) are computed that are visualised by means of GIS. These landscapes will be scrutinized by a user community that will have access to benefit landscape information and tested with real data in a validation phase. In addition to direct benefit impact assessment we will also provide integrated assessment on a sector level and macro-economic/societal level taking into account indirect effects such as market feedbacks. The assessment of direct GEO benefits and indirect effects on the sector or macro-level will be performed in a specially targeted scenario package that will be integrated with a number of existing energy scenario models and integrated assessment models mostly in connection to the work performed in the IPCC and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
This project will conclude with a Summary for Policy Makers type of report explaining the scientific concept, technological requirements, simulation results and implications for policy making of the most crucial issues.

2.1 Scientific Objectives

1. Theoretical backgrounds, assessment strategies and uncertainty assessments for comprehensive benefit accounting of GEO benefits in economic, social and environmental terms at the grid (polygon) and regional levels using a systematic approach;
2. Elaboration of direct linkages between biophysical models and socio-economic valuation models;
3. Setting up a number of tools for benefit assessments, based on a range of different quantitative and qualitative methods for benefit assessments, developing and applying value of information modelling approaches
4. Synergetic use of all relevant sources of information, to be used in a multitude of competing assessment models, with geographically explicit land information as a nucleus of the approach;
5. Design of the structure of an integrated information system directed towards ecological and environmental assessment under global change, which would meet requirements of international conventions and policy processes.
6. Achieve aggregation of results across methodologies (deterministic – stochastic), geographic scales (grid – global), time scales (weather – hundred year phenomena), and sectors (synergies, ancillary benefits and trade-offs).

2.2 Technical Objectives

1. Selection and integration of available and the most suitable existing spatial and technical data;

2. Design of static-dynamic, single-multiple output, deterministic-stochastic benefit models and application of reduced form models to the geographic area the globe. The first cut GEO-benefit model to be integrated with other sectors should be deliverable by T3;

3. Construction of a flexible and consistent scenario model, to be used in different assessment models;
Note that both scientific and technical objectives include notions of vision statements rather than the definitions of practical objectives and goals, which could be used of assessing project progress.

4. Structuring the relevant GIS systems and defining potential technological links to other European/Global programmes such as GMES, INSPIRE2, CORINE3, MARS4, GCP etc.. and a potential user community that would allow self-organized quality improvement.

Five critical issues pertinent to the design of the GEO-BENE project are:
• Comprehensiveness in terms of assessment of all nine benefit areas: the aim is to take into account synergies (ancillary benefits) and trade-offs among and between benefit areas and sub-benefit areas.
• Improvement of assessment quality: to improve the quality of current GEOSS assessments and reveal dubious figures;
• Contribution to sustainability: to assist GEOSS in promoting the strengthening of compliance with other international conventions;
• Validation and Uncertainty: to assess the confidence levels of computed figures and the sensitivity of parameters;
• Coherence and Implementability: to assure that results can be readily integrated with benefit estimates of other sectors and that measures are realistically implementable.