Value created by ESA's Future Earth Observation Pillar

Value created by ESA's Future Earth Observation Pillar [Apr/2020]

In preparation of Space19+ and to inform decision-makers on the impact of their investment on the European economy and society, ESA conducted several studies to assess the socio-economic benefits of its programmes.

One of these assessments evaluates the socio-economic benefits enabled by selected ESA Earth Observation activities (former Earth Observation Envelope Programme) over the period 2013-2030, with a focus on one of the programme’s three pillars: Future Earth Observation (FutureEO).

Critical information was collected through ESA financial data processing, the assessment and review of future technological trends in Earth Observation, as well as an extensive stakeholder consultation of 93 organisations participating in the programme during the period 2013-2018 and ensuring:

  • Economic representativeness: 60% of the commitments made in the period in monetary terms;
  • Geographical representativeness: 16 different ESA Member States (out of 22);
  • Heterogeneity representativeness: 8% of Large Space Integrators, 23% of large companies, 46% of SMEs, 17% of universities and 6% of governmental agencies.


The FutureEO programme can be considered as the backbone of Earth Observation technology, science and applications in Europe. Through world-class research satellite missions (Earth Explorers), the research and development of new Copernicus Sentinel satellites and innovative data exploitation platforms, FutureEO enables pioneering scientific research on critical issues such as climate change, the carbon cycle or the water-energy-food nexus.

The study details the socio-economic impacts generated by the programme across critical indicators such as the annual scientific publication rate, the contribution to GDP and employment but also benefits across key user applications (crop monitoring, water management, international development aid, coastal management, etc.).

With regards to economic impacts, the investment in FutureEO is expected to result in an overall economic multiplier of 3.8, resulting from both GDP and innovation spillover impacts. This means that every 1 euro spent on ESA Future EO leads to the creation of 3.8 euros within ESA Member State economies: 1.9 from the GDP impact, and 1.9 from innovation spillovers.

This study was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and was completed in May 2019. To access the document, please click here click here or login to access the restricted area.

Independent access to accurate environmental information and the resulting scientific knowledge are key in the transition to a sustainable and carbon neutral society. These significant indirect socioeconomic benefits created by Earth Observation have not been considered in the above study, but will be addressed in future dedicated studies.

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