GMES – General Overview

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), is a European programme for the implementation of an European capacity for Earth Observation.

The main objective of GMES is to monitor and better understand our environment and to contribute to the security of every citizen. Land, sea and atmosphere – each Earth component is observed through GMES, helping to make our lives safer.

GMES will provide decision-makers who rely on strategic information with regard to environmental and security issues with an independent and permanent access to reliable data.

The purpose of GMES is to deliver information which corresponds to user needs. The processing and dissemination of this information is carried out within the "GMES service component".

The thematic areas within the GMES service component comprise:

  • land, marine and atmosphere information – ensuring systematic monitoring and forecasting the state of the Earth's subsystems at regional and global levels;
  • climate change information – helping to monitor the effects of climate change, assessing mitigation measures and contributing to the knowledge base for adaptation policies and investments;
  • emergency and security information – providing support in the event of emergencies and humanitarian aid needs, in particular to civil protection authorities, also to produce accurate information on security related aspects (e.g. maritime surveillance, border control, global stability, etc.)

The GMES service component depends on Earth observation data, collected from space (satellites), air (airborne instruments, balloons to record stratosphere data, etc.), water (floats, shipboard instruments, etc.) or land (measuring stations, seismographs, etc.). These facilities are called the GMES infrastructure component; non-space based installations in the GMES infrastructure component are generally referred to as "in situ component"; space based installations are included in the so-called “space component”.

Paving the way for the future of the GMES programme, in November 2010 the European Union has adopted a Regulation that secures funding for the initial operations phase of GMES, which spans 2011–2013.

You can download the official text, entitled „Regulation (EU) No 911/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the European Earth monitoring programme (GMES)“, here: or

Other key documents related to the GMES Programme and its initial operations can be downloaded from here .

Observational Infrastructure

In principle, the GMES observational infrastructure composes of two main components.

Space infrastructure

The space component shall ensure sustainable provision of satellite derived Earth observation data to all GMES services. The architecture of the component is derived from service requirements provided by the user communities. ESA and EUMETSAT are two main European actors in this area who should play the major role in co-ordination, implementation and operational running of the infrastructure.

In-situ infrastructure

The in situ component is based on an observation infrastructure owned and operated by the large number of stakeholders coordinated, in some cases, in the frame of European or international networks. In situ observation activities and associated infrastructure derive from a range of national, EU and international regulatory requirements and agreements or form part of research processes. None was created to meet the needs of GMES, and they cover a much wider field than the GMES services. By this reason European Environmental Agency was appointed to co-ordinate the consolidation of in-situ networks for GMES purposes.

GMES Services

The GMES initiative comprises a group of vertical services aimed at monitoring Earth sub-systems (land, ocean(marine), and atmosphere) and horizontal services addressing emergency and security issues. In addition, information provided by these services contributes to efforts in the climate change domain. For an overview of GMES services click here -

Urban Atlas is a digital mapping tool launched this year. It offers reliable and comparable urban planning information delivered through GMES. More than 300 maps of major cities will be covered by 2011.Urban Atlas has potential applications in several fields, including a deeper understanding of climate change.

For more information on the GMES Programme, please visit the GMES institutional portal.

General documents on GMES

  • COM(2011)831 - Communication from the commission to the European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - on the European Earth monitoring programme (GMES and its operations (from 2014 onwards) :    or  
  • European Earth monitoring programme (GMES) & its initial operations (2011-2013) - Work programme 2012 :  
  • European Earth monitoring programme (GMES) & its initial operations (2011-2013) - Work programme 2011 :  
  • Regulation (EU) n° 911/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the European Earth monitoring programme (GMES) and its initial operations (2011 to 2013) :  :  or  
  • Commission Decision of 5/02/2010 setting up the GMES Partners Board :    or  

Contact:   Mr Stefan Daskalov

Tel/Fax: (+359 2) 470 90 75
Postal Address: 9, Kokiche Str. BG, 1164 Sofia, Bulgaria