The Planetary Skin Institute: unprecedented global collaboration to sense, predict and act on the complex challenges of the 21st Century

15 December 2009


Copenhagen, December 15, 2009: The launch of the Planetary Skin Institute in Copenhagen today represents a breakthrough research and development approach to global monitoring of environmental conditions and changes. It embodies an unprecedented level of collaboration between the public, private, NGO and academic sectors to meet the major environmental challenges facing the world.

The actions required to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change depend on trusted information to support decisions, rationalize investment and build global consensus. Without these decisions makers are flying blind, hampered by partial and isolated information.

The new institute draws on several years of an R&D public/private partnership between Cisco Inc. and NASA to co-develop the Planetary Skin platform.

To overcome those challenges, the Planetary Skin Institute (PSI) is being established to research and develop a near-to-real-time global monitoring of environmental conditions and changes. It is a multi million dollar initiative to provide a research and development platform for open collaboration between public, private, academic and NGO sectors.  PSI will collect data from space, airborne, maritime, terrestrial and people-based sensor networks and will model, predict, analyze and report in standardized formats over an open, adaptable, networked platform. This will be governed as a global public-good and it will eventually be accessible across the world for many millions of people to use so that they can collaborate and develop new approaches, solutions and models together that will help adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The PSI has been incorporated as a not-for-profit entity and its governance is structured to ensure that multi-sectoral and international considerations are at all times paramount.

The PSI global network will be made up of seven peer regional hub & spoke networks (Brazil, India, China, Africa, Japan, EU and the US) interconnected in a seamless collaborative network through a shared applied research and development agenda, values and principles.

Planetary Skin Global Advisory Council

Those same, shared values are reflected in the PSI Global Advisory Council that is also being announced in Copenhagen on December 15th.

Planetary Skin Institute's Global Advisory Council is drawn from leading figures in environmental, scientific, academic and policy areas relating to climate change and to resource management. Their collective areas of expertise reflect the broad diversity of knowledge and insight that the Planetary Skin Institute will play a major part in developing around the world.

Commenting on the launch of the Planetary Skin Institute, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, a member of the PSI Global Advisory Council, said " Understanding where and how emissions arise and providing careful, reliable and impartial information and measurement on both emissions and environmental risks more generally is vital to policy on climate change. And it is crucial to building the international trust and understanding that must underpin a global deal on climate change. It is fundamental to the formation of public and private strategies on risk management across the world and for the private investment decisions that must drive the new low-carbon economy. That is why the launch of the Planetary Skin Institute is so important."

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, member of the PSI Global Advisory Council commented:  "The Planetary Skin Institute's collaboration and unique cross-sectoral approach will advance our ability to act collectively to solve the common challenges we face, particularly with regards to some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world."

Professor, Dr Zhou Dadi, member of the PSI Global Advisory Council commented: "The future of complex future energy systems will require advanced R&D capabilities to support complex decision making. As an energy system analyst and strategist I welcome
the abilities that the Planetary Skin Institute will provide to meet this critical need as a platform for developing the solutions that will allow us to transform our use of energy."

Dr. Carlos Nobre, member of the PSI's Global Advisory Council commented: "Planetary Skin Institute's global public good R&D infrastructure is key to unlock international collaborations across disciplines and sectors to fast track our understanding of
regional climate science modeling and its applications in preserving the future of
 the Amazon rainforest and other vital ecosystems around the world."

Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, member of the PSI Global Advisory Council and Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change, commented: "I am proud to be associated with this world-class research and development programme. The focus on collaborating in the modeling of large-scale risks associated with the many different dimensions of climate change is vital to deepen our collective understanding and to help us take practical decisions for the future."

Professor Dr. Charles F. Kennel, member of the PSI Global Advisory Council commented, Taking action to adapt to climate change at both local and global levels requires decision support that is relevant and appropriate to meet those different needs. The open nature of the Planetary Skin Institute will help deliver support, appropriate tools and actionable insights that are relevant and useful in specific contexts for local decision-makers on the ground.

Dr. Steve Howard, member of the PSI Global Advisory Council commented, As CEO of The Climate Group I have seen the power of partnerships.  The PSI offers a collaborative approach to tackle the most complex and pressing problems of the 21st century.

Planetary Skin is rapidly evolving world-class research & development partnerships

The Planetary Skin Institute's approach is founded on partnership and collaboration. The following partnerships are the first of what will be a global program of many new collaborations to work jointly towards addressing the many challenges raised by climate change.

The Climate Group has joined the Planetary Skin Institute as lead NGO partner. The Planetary Skin Institute has agreed to collaborate with the Climate Group on co-developing and hosting the Global Solutions Exchange for the benefit of policymakers, businesses and communities globally to jumpstart execution towards a low carbon economy.

The Planetary Skin Institute and The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) have agreed a collaborative research partnership that will deepen the understanding of the impacts of environmental change on the development of agriculture and food security.

The Planetary Skin Institute and Imperial Colleges Grantham Institute for Climate Change will work together on a multi-year to create and execute a prioritized portfolio of research and development programmes that will focus on modeling large scale risks, the complex water cycle, biodiversity and ecosystems and the climate change impacts on food security.

The Planetary Skin Institute and The Terrestrial Carbon Group at the The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment have agreed a collaborative research partnership focused on modeling approaches, and decision-support tools in relation to the role of terrestrial carbon in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The Planetary Skin Institute and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at The University of Minnesota have agreed a partnership to research and develop powerful global geo-spatial data mining capabilities applied to the complex problem sets of the Planetary Skins decision support capabilities to manage resources (energy, water, biomass, food, global land use, etc), to manage risks (climate change risks and pandemics) and enable the required environmental markets (carbon, water, biodiversity, etc).

For more information on Planetary Skin and Planetary Skin Institute please visit

For a copy of the press release, click here.

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