The Initiative


This Initiative is a continuation and extension of the work of the GEO CRADLE Community Activity, which provided EO capacity building in the North Africa, Middle East, and Balkans (NAMEBA) region, now with potential to expand to the Black Sea. The Initiative will capitalise, sustain and scale up the results mainly achieved during the implementation of the 3-year H2020 GEO-CRADLE project, as well as key outcomes of other relevant EU flagship projects and initiatives (e.g. NextGEOSS, ERAPLANET, EuroGEOSS), in support of the three GEOSS priorities, namely CC, DRR and SDGs.

The extension will be realised along the following dimensions:

Geographic: The proposed Initiative will progressively embrace all Balkan countries, with potential to involve new areas (Black Sea) and maintain the involvement of Middle East (where major gaps in GEO memberships are encountered) and North Africa (in connection to AfriGEOSS).

Thematic: On top of food security, energy, raw materials and climate change the Initiative will explore the incorporation of additional thematic areas such as disaster management and water resources management, in accordance to GEO priorities. These are areas identified as key priorities in the region and also strongly tied to the SDGs. In this way they can be considered “quick wins”.

Operational Maturity: In conjunction with the efforts being planned under EuroGEOSS, the proposed initiative will seek stronger involvement of the private sector and a clear orientation towards the operationalisation of services to the various engaged users.


1. Promote the coordination of EO activities at regional level through the sustained operation of the GEO-CRADLE networking platform and the interfacing with key initiatives (including regional GEOSS’ like EuroGEOSS and AfriGEOSS)

  • The National Observatory of Athens commits to maintain the dedicated networking platform developed earlier and will seek to integrate it in the EuroGEOSS.
  • GEO-CRADLE project partners will continue operations towards intensifying stakeholder engagement and liaison activities, also in alignment with the SDGs’ frame, to maintain good traction with the national EO communities and seek to exploit the most of new vehicles such as the Copernicus FPA and the Copernicus User Uptake “infrastructure”, i.e. Copernicus Relays and Academies where the leading partner NOA is actively involved. Furthermore, national partners will organise or attend regional workshops and sustain their operation in collaborative efforts.

2. Assess the maturity of EO activities at national level, towards informing targeted capacity building

  • GEO-CRADLE has pioneered the establishment of a novel methodology to assess the state and progress of different aspects of EO activities at national level. The “maturity indicators” methodology has been tested over a period of 15 months, through the mobilization of the GEO-CRADLE country partners, covering 11 countries from the NAMEBA region. The methodology will be further implemented, tested and improved in these countries, but also beyond, and a mechanism for periodic update will be established.

3. Foster the progressive operationalisation of EO-based services, building on the results of GEO-CRADLE pilots, linking to the GEO priorities and the national needs for achievement of SDGs and involving the private sector.

  • GEO-CRADLE has carried out pilot activities in 4 thematic areas which have been identified as key priorities in the region: Food Security and Water Extremes, Raw Materials, Renewable Energy, Climate Change. These activities have built on existing capabilities of EO stakeholders in the NAMEBA region and have yielded significant results. The pilots have attracted significant interest by companies willing to support the operationalization of their outcomes, and users willing to adopt them in their own context. The pilots will be given further impetus and offered an opportunity to extend beyond their geographic and thematic coverage.

4. Further promote the effective implementation of GEOSS Data Sharing Principles in the region and the registration of national datasets to GEOSS Platform.

  • Through the establishment of the GEO-CRADLE Regional Data Hub (RDH), GEO-CRADLE has actively advocated the Data Sharing Principles and effectively implemented them. The RDH is set up with free and open access, serving as a gateway that facilitates the access of the regional actors and EU partners to useful datasets and portals from the regions that use open standards. The lead partner NOA will maintain the operation of the Regional Data Hub further seeking to discover and effectively link key regional datasets to the GEOSS Platform. Synergies with NextGEOSS platform, EuroGEOSS initiative and other ongoing initiatives and projects will help in that direction.

Expected outcomes, impacts and user/societal benefits

Short to medium term:

I1: Enhanced participation of the complete EO ecosystem in capacity building, R&D&I collaboration and awareness raising, with focus on continuous engagement of users.
I2: Progressive increase of EO maturity in the region through the assessment of gaps and challenges.
I3: Improved “dialogue” between demand and supply side by fostering co-design approaches (maintaining the GEO-CRADLE user requirements registry).
I4: Increased number of regional datasets in the GEO-CRADLE Data Hub, linked to GEOSS Platform.
Medium to long term:
I5: Sustained uptake of GEO/GEOSS and Copernicus in the region, and better leveraging of existing and future investments.
I6: Matching top-down (i.e. at programme level whether this is GEO or Copernicus) with the bottom-up (i.e. national and sector-specific) perspectives. This will be further informed by the GEO-CRADLE Roadmap.
I7: Improved uptake of EO-derived benefits (incl. from EuroGEOSS outputs) in a region with strong interest for Europe and solid foundations for cooperation (see PRIMA, EO4SD, IPA, ENI).


The Initiative will operate on in-kind contributions. The country partners have shown strong commitment to mobilise their own resources within their operational context in the organisation/attendance of workshops and contribution to the reports produced under the proposed Initiative.


Haris Kontoes (Greece/National Observatory of Athens),


The Initiative will be support by key organisations having held leading roles in the implementation of the GEO-CRADLE project, NextGEOSS, ERAPLANET, and the proposed EuroGEOSS H2020 action. These organisations will be supported by a vibrant GEO-CRADLE Network covering several countries across the NAMEBA region, expanded to Black Sea . The key roles proposed are:

  • The National Observatory of Athens (NOA) will act as the Coordinator of the proposed Initiative, carrying on its role as H2020 project Coordinator of GEO-CRADLE, WP Leader in NextGEOSS, Showcase Coordinator in ERAPLANET, Showcase Coordinator and Dissemination Leader in the proposed EuroGEOSS H2020 proposal, Leader of key submissions in the recent call for EuroGEOSS expressions of intent, and host of one of the most active national GEO Offices in Europe.
  • The InterBalkan Environment Center (IBEC) and the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), both participating in GEO, will act as Regional Coordinators overlooking the Balkan/Black Sea on one hand and the Middle East/North Africa on the other.
  • The European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) – also a participating organisation in GEO – will act as the main interface with the private sector.
  • Evenflow SPRL – an SME based in Belgium with extensive involvement in Copernicus and GEO activities – will support exploitation activities and lead the Maturity Indicators work.
  • Several other key regional partners will act as focal points in their countries liaising with the local ecosystem.

This includes organisations involved as partners in the GEO-CRADLE project such as the Space Technologies Institute (TUBITAK UZAY) in Turkey, the Research and Studies Telecommunications Centre (CERT), in Tunisia, the Royal Centre for Remote Sensing (CRTS) in Morocco, EURISY in the EU, the Space Research and Technology Institute (SRTI)in Bulgaria, INOSENS in Serbia, Institute for Nature Conservation in Albania (INCA), the Physical Meteorological Observatory in Davos / World Radiation Centre (PMOD/WRC) in Switzerland, the Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel, the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) in Cyprus, as well as multiple companies, users and governmental stakeholders already extensively engaged in the GEO-CRADLE Network will continue to actively contribute to the proposed activities.

Linkages across Work Programme

Flagship: GEOGLAM.
Initiatives: AfriGEOSS, EO4SDG, EuroGEOSS, GEO VENER.
Foundational Task: GEOSS Platform.