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Keynote Speaker

Barbara J. Ryan is Secretariat Director of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) located in Geneva, Switzerland. In this capacity, she leads the Secretariat in coordinating the activities of 104 Member States and the European Commission and 114 Participating Organizations that  are integrating Earth observations so that informed decisions can be made across eight Societal Benefit Areas: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sustainability; Disaster Resilience; Energy and Mineral Resources Management; Food Security; Infrastructure and Transportation Management; Public Health Surveillance; Sustainable Urban Development; Water Resources Management.

Before becoming GEO Director in July 2012, Ryan served as Director of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Space Programme with responsibility for coordinating space-based observations to meet the needs of WMO Members in the topical areas of weather, water, climate and related natural disasters.

Before joining WMO in October 2008, she was the Associate Director for Geography at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Reston, Virginia where she was responsible for the Landsat, remote sensing, geography and civilian mapping programs of the agency. It was under her leadership that implementation of the Landsat data policy was reformed to release all data over the internet at no additional cost to the user—an action that has resulted in the global release of more than 42 million Landsat scenes to date, and significant economic returns globally.

Ryan holds a Bachelor´s degree in Geology from the State University of New York at Cortland, a Master´s degree in Geography from the University of Denver, and a Master´s degree in Civil Engineering from Stanford University. She has been awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree from the State University of New York at Cortland. She was recently named an Honorary Fellow of the American Geographical Society, and in January 2017, was one of 10 global Leaders to be named to the Geospatial World Forum’s Hall of Fame.


Barbara J. Ryan
Secretariat Director

GEO Secretariat
7bis, avenue de la Paix – Case postale 2300
CH-1211 Geneva 2 – Switzerland