Request for Contributions to the GEO Blue Planet Secretariat

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Blue Planet invites government agencies, research institutions and NGOs to submit an expression of interest to host a Secretariat node or provide resources (secondments or funding for staff/fellows) to the GEO Blue Planet Secretariat’s principal office.

Submission deadline: February 28, 2019

About Blue Planet

We live on a Blue Planet, and Earth’s waters benefit many sectors of society. The future of our Blue Planet is increasingly reliant on the services delivered by marine and coastal waters. Maintenance of these services relies on the advancement of effective, evidence-based decisions for sustainable development.

GEO Blue Planet’s mission is to advance and exploit synergies among the many observational programmes devoted to ocean and coastal waters; to improve engagement with a variety of users for enhancing the timeliness, quality and range of services delivered; and to raise awareness of the societal benefits of ocean observations at the public and policy levels.

We do this by promoting collection of continuous ocean and coastal observations, processing of data into information and linking this information with societal needs. The societal needs feed back into ocean and coastal observation requirements and enhancement or modification of the ocean observation strategy. This requires close working relationships between scientists who collect ocean and coastal observations, those who take these observations and extract information as well as forecast future conditions, and those who use the information and forecasts in the management of our living planet.

GEO Blue Planet is a network of ocean and coastal-observers, social scientists and end-user representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups, including international and regional organizations, NGOs, national institutes, universities and government agencies. Our experts have a demonstrated capacity to bridge the gap between data and services to deliver usable information that supports informed decision-making toward reaching sustainable development.

About the Secretariat

The GEO Blue Planet Secretariat provides scientific and logistical support for GEO Blue Planet activities. The Secretariat will also provide coordination support for activities and develop partnerships. The GEO Blue Planet Secretariat reports to the Steering Committee Co-chairs.

The principal office is currently hosted by the Cooperative Institute of Climate and Satellites-Maryland (CICS-MD) in partnership with NOAA in College Park, MD, USA. The overall Director of the secretariat is based at the principle office. A European Secretariat node is under development to be hosted at Mercator Ocean in Toulouse, France.

In order to effectively support coordination of relevant activities in other regions and to support global coordination and development of thematic activities (e.g., marine biodiversity monitoring), GEO Blue Planet invites government agencies, research institutions and NGOs to submit an expression of interest to host a regional or thematic node of the secretariat. Offers of resource support for the principle secretariat office (secondments or funding support) are also welcome. 

Secretariat nodes can be regional, thematic or a combination of regional and thematic. Thematic nodes should align with one of GEO Blue Planet’s ten thematic areas:

Duties of the Principal Secretariat Office and Secretariat Nodes

The duties of the principal secretariat office are:

  • To provide overall support and coordination to the GEO Blue Planet network
  • To support and mange GEO Blue Planet activities as required
  • To provide direction and leadership for the regional and thematic secretariat nodes
  • To support the Steering Committee in the coordination of GEO Blue Planet deliverables
  • To provide logistical support to the Advisory Board
  • To promote GEO Blue Planet in the international arena
  • To interface with and report to the GEO Secretariat on behalf of GEO Blue Planet
  • To support the organisation of GEO Blue Planet Symposiums
  • To manage the GEO Blue Planet website, social media and other communications.

The duties of the regional secretariat nodes are:

  • To connect GEO Blue Planet with relevant ongoing regional activities
  • To provide technical /or administrative support to the principal secretariat office
  • To coordinate regional GEO Blue Planet activities
  • To coordinate with and support regional GEO entities and associated activities related to oceans and coasts (e.g., AOGEOSS Oceans, Coasts and Islands task)

The duties of the thematic secretariat nodes are:

  • To connect GEO Blue Planet with relevant ongoing activities related to the nodes' thematic area
  • To provide technical/or administrative support to the principal secretariat office
  • To develop and support GEO Blue Planet activities related to the nodes' thematic area
  • To coordinate with and support thematic GEO activates related to the nodes' thematic area (e.g., GEO BON/MBON)

Expressions of interest for nodes that cover the duties of a regional and thematic node are particularly welcome

Requirements to host a regional secretariat node

A host agency, institution or organization is expected to provide:

  • Salary and travel funds for at least one full time staff member or fellow.
  • Office space and supplies.
  • Strong ties to regional activities related to:
    • ocean and coastal observations data and products;
    • stakeholder engagement and societal awareness; and
    • capacity building.
  • Ability to support technology transfer of relevant activities and the development of new ocean and coastal information services.
  • Support to the principal secretariat office by means of:
    • supporting communication efforts,
    • supplying travel funds for developing country participants to attend GEO Blue Planet workshops and symposiums,
    • data management and visualization services,
    • website management, and
    • other administrative support.

Requirements to host a thematic node

A host agency, institution or organization is expected to provide:

  • Salary and travel funds for at least one full time staff member.
  • Office space and supplies.
  • Strong ties to activities related to the proposed thematic focus area.
  • Operate in English when communicating with the principle secretariat office and international partners.
  • Support to the principle secretariat office by means of:
    • supporting communication efforts,
    • data management and visualization services,
    • website management, and
    • other administrative support.
Additional Requirements for a Marine Biodiversity Node

The marine science community has been very successful in coordinating activities at global scales. Notable drivers of this have been IOC and SCOR, and also programmes such as the Census of Marine Life that established the Ocean Biogeographic Information system (OBIS). Marine biodiversity scientists are represented by the International Association of Biological Oceanography that holds a triennial world conference. SCOR, IABO and IOC are over 50 years old. Recently, the community has established a quality assured online checklist or all marine species (the World Register of Marine Species, WoRMS), and OBIS publishes tens of millions of species distribution records and associated information online. Satellites, ARGO floats and other new technologies are sampling the oceans at unprecedented scales. However, what remains to be operational is a globally coordinated network of standardized field observations across all the components of marine biodiversity. This needs to represent all the major kinds of organisms, depth zones, and habitats, from pelagic plankton and nekton to benthos, coastal and deep, polar to tropical seas. The data need to be rapidly published into OBIS to facilitate early detection of trends from local to regional and global scales.

The Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) is a thematic network of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Network (GEO BON) and a thematic node of GEO Blue Planet. MBON fosters the development and implementation of a global community of practice that studies trends in marine biodiversity from local to global scales. This includes research that develops field and laboratory methods, data analyses, and communication of information to policy makers.

The MBON Secretariat node would function as a thematic node of the GEO BON Secretariat and the GEO Blue Planet Secretariat. Duties would include: 

  • Supporting the MBON Steering Group Co-Chairs in development of agenda, meeting reports, managing MBON documentation (including Strategic Plans), reporting to GEO BON, arranging teleconference and face-to-face meetings, and managing communications to the community (including website, email lists, and social media);
  • Coordinating with the principal Secretariat offices of GEO BON and GEO Blue Planet   
  • Liaising with MBON related initiatives, including the MBON Pole to Pole, IOC (IOCCP, GOOS, OBIS, IGMETS), SCOR, IABO, the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) program, Future Earth, MarineGEO, CPR, RLS, AP BON, to ensure a synergy of effort;
  • Manage MBON funding in accordance with good governance practices of transparency and declaration of conflicts of interest, and audit requirements of the host organisation;
  • Develop relationships and synergies within the MBON community, with the long-term aim of having activities monitoring representative elements of marine biodiversity, from populations to ecosystems, from local to global scales. This would include reaching out to scientists to encourage them to establish specialists activities that contribute to MBON, and endorsing and supporting activities as contributing to MBON, including writing letters of support for funding applications.
  • The MBON node will support at least an Executive Secretary and assistant, communication costs, and ideally senior and early-career scientists. It would have a budget to cover their travel to meetings, and ideally an additional budget to fund steering committee nominated persons to attend key meetings.

Selection Criteria

Selection will be based on:

  • Potential for creating and maintaining linkages that support GEO Blue Planet’s mission.
  • Ability to support to dedicated staff time (preferably a dedicated full time staff member) and travel for at least one year.
  • Proposed support to the principal secretariat office.
  • Ability to supply travel funds for developing country participants to attend relevant workshops and symposiums.

Submit an expression of interest

Expressions of interest should be submitted through the online form by February 28, 2019. A PDF with the submission questions is available for reference here

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