The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is a voluntary partnership of governments and organizations, coordinating efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems, or GEOSS. It was set up in 2005 in response to calls for action from the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, and from the G8 (Group of Eight) leading industrialized countries.
The 10-year Implementation Plan for GEOSS defines nine 'societal benefit areas' the system is designed to address. One of them, 'Understanding, monitoring, and conserving biodiversity,' forms the mission of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network, or GEO BON. It is a collaboration of some 100 governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to organize and improve terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity observations globally and make their biodiversity data, information forecasts more readily accessible to policymakers, managers, experts and other users.
One of the major current activities of GEO BON is to establish a set of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs), a set of measurements required for study, reporting and management of biodiversity change.
GBIF is among ten organizations to sit on the GEO BON Steering Committee, and has been especially active in the area of data integration and interoperability. The biodiversity data published through the GBIF network form a component of several projects designed to support GEO BON's activities, including the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas.
In 2013, GBIF took part in the launch of the European Biodiversity Observation Network (EU BON), which aims to build a substantial part of GEO BON. Its proposed products include an integrated biodiversity portal, a roadmap for handling citizen science data and a framework for open data publishing. GBIF's principal role in EU BON, supported by a grant of nearly 300,000 Euros from the EU-funded project, is to help improve data standards and interoperability, to provide a metadata registry and to provide access to data through robust web services.