South Africa co-chairs the Programme Board of the Intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

South Africa has successfully Co-Chaired the recent proceedings of the Programme Board (PB) of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)  that took place from 22-24 February 2021. Andiswa Mlisa, interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA)  in her capacity as the principal representative in the PB on behalf of South Africa, Co-Chairs the PB with Evangelos Gerasopoulos of Greece and Anthony Milne of the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society.

Mlisa has already served as previous Co-Chair of the PB (2020 – 2021) and was renominated for a second term (2022 – 2023). She has participated in GEO since 2006, initially in its Capacity Building Committee, which she quickly shown her leadership skills and became Co-Chair of the committee and its successor, the GEO Institutions and Development Board.


Ms Andiswa Mlisa, interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SANSA

During her four-year tenure at the GEO Secretariat (based in Switzerland), Mlisa led the establishment and coordination of the first Regional GEO initiative, the AfriGEO Initiative. She used the opportunity at the Secretariat to be involved in shaping several GEO activities and priority areas including GEO’s engagement with the private sector, and clarification of the roles and responsibilities of GEO’s governance structures – Executive Committee, Programme Board (which was then just formed) and the Secretariat – to ensure efficient delivery of GEO’s Strategic Objectives.

In addition to providing leadership in the Programme Board, Mlisa is proud to be making meaningful contributions to building the Earth observations community through the work of the GEO Equality, Diversity and Inclusion subgroup, the Private Sector subgroup and co-chair of the Technical Advisory Committee of Digital Earth Africa, a GEO Work Programme Initiative.

The programme board constitutes of leading experts from across the globe to shape the activities of GEO and align with GEO priorities. The role of the Programme Board is to oversee the formation and implementation of the GEO Work Programmes to ensure coherence and alignment of activities with GEO’s strategic objectives and reports to the GEO Executive Committee and Plenary.

In her role as principal, Mlisa is supported by two additional South African representatives. The first representative is Lulu Makapela, a strategic programmes contracts manager at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and responsible for DSI’s space secretariat to the South African – Group on Earth Observations (SA-GEO) ,  who serves in the capacity of Alternate representative in the PB board. The second representative is Tinyiko Ntshongwana, who is a Deputy Director at the Department of Science and Innovation in South Africa, who serves in the capacity of correspondent in the PB Board.  She has expertise in managing South Africa’s science, technology, and innovation engagements with international multi-sectoral institutions in Africa and other parts of the globe. Her technical and project management skills have resulted in the conceptualization and implementation of transnational programmes and initiatives spanning various economic sectors including renewable energy, climate change, agriculture, and health.

Upon reflecting on the PB deliberations at its 22nd Meeting, held on 22 February 2022, Mlisa is most proud of the level of engagement by the country and participating organisations representatives and the great progress that was made towards the development of 2023-2025 GEO WP.

The highlights of the meeting included an agreement on the PB actions in response to the GEO Mid-Term Evaluation (MTE) recommendations; engaged with the Expert Advisory Group on Re-evaluation of GEOSS (EAG); considered the transition of the PB Urban Resilience Subgroup to the new Resilient Cities and Human Settlements (RCHS) Working Group. The RCHS has recently become a 4th engagement priority for GEO, joining Sustainable Development Goals (UN 2030 Agenda), Climate Action (Paris Agreement) and Disaster Risk Reduction (Sendai Framework on DRR) and confirmed the process for development of the 2023-2025 GEO Work Programme (GWP). The South African and African Earth observations community are encouraged to respond to the call for contributions to the 2023-2025 GWP.

The leading roles  by South Africa in GEO is essential and strategic to enhancing South Africa’s positioning on Earth observations and driving regional and national initiatives such as the Digital Earth Africa to be hosted and managed by the SANSA, AfriGEO initiative with the RCMRD and the SA-GEO that  is hosted and managed by the CSIR.

The SA-GEO Community congratulates Ms Mlisa for the great efforts and commitments on the African and global structures and the continued growing participation by South Africa in the GEO.

For more information please contact, Lulu Makapela, NEOSS at