The GAIA INCO-DC (Technological Cooperation with Developing Countries)
international R&D Project is a collaboration of ESS-ACA with
in the UK, Italy, Argentina, China, Egypt, Mexico,
Thailand, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
ESS-ACA is the lead contractor and project coordinator.
Overall, GAIA aims to provide innovative tools and methods to promote the
conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources, compatible with
long-term equitable economic growth and enhancement of productive capacity
which is environmentally acceptable. At the same time, and through the
methodology used to address the first objective, it aims to integrate
developing countries, in particular those which have attained a higher
level of development, into the global information society; to combine
research skills established in developing countries institutions with their
EU counterparts and to facilitate the growth of an information and
communications area allowing developing countries to participate in solving
their regional problems with regard to development.
The primary vehicle of GAIA is information technology, and in particular,
a multi-media information system accessible through the Internet.
Designed to support both classroom teaching as well as distance learning,
the system combines a workstation based server part with a WWW information
system, addressing environmental issues and problems both at a global
scale as well as through a number of local and regional
case studies .
GAIA builds on a number of precursor projects, including:
EARSS , the Environmental
Assessment and reporting System developed for and with UNEP/GRID
and ENRIC, Bangkok, for Asia-Pacific;
MEXSES , a rule-based expert system
for environmental impact assessment; and
- CLIMEX ,
a global change information system developed in collaboration with CIESIN.
EARSS provides an easy to use, fully interactive set of tools to
define and assess state-of-the-environment indicators within an issues and
model oriented framework, based on a large volume of underlying data sets.
It supports efficient access to a very large volume of
environmental and development related socio-economic data,
organized by issues, geographically, or in terms of processes and models.
It provides tools to browse through this information in hypertext style,
extract and display specific data items for analysis, eg., basic
trends, and comparison, eg., across countries, or between indicators.
The system allows the user to interactively design graphical displays such
as diagrams and topical maps of this information.
Each information item is always presented within a context for evaluation,
eg., a regional or global distribution, time series, or policy objectives
and target values.
EARSS supports SoE Reporting in terms of issues (organized by alternative
frameworks, including Agenda 21) defined in terms of a set of indicators.
As an open system, EARSS can be user configured in terms of its data and
map sets, the conceptual framework for organizing and grouping indicators,
the rules or models for assessment, and the entire hypertext system.
A number of
reports and papers
describe the conceptual framework behind the
project, summarize the state-of-the-art of EIA and state-of-the-environment
reporting, and address the related topic of early warning in environmental