The International Society for Digital Earth (hereinafter referred to as the Society and ISDE) was founded in May, 2006 in China, on the principles of the 1999 Beijing Declaration on Digital Earth. The Society promotes international cooperation in the Digital Earth Vision, and facilitates Digital Earth technologies to play key roles in, inter alia, economic and socially-sustainable development, environmental protection, early warning and disaster mitigation, natural resources conservation, education and improvement of the well-being of the society in general.

The Mission of the Society is to provide a framework for understanding evolving society-beneficial technologies, current and newly emerging, and to revise the Digital Earth Vision in light of new developments.


Digital Earth makes use of digital technologies to model earth systems, including its cultural and social aspects represented by human societies living on the planet. The model is a multi-dimensional, multi-scale, multi-temporal, and multi-layered information system. Digital Earth is envisaged as a common platform to support national and international cooperation for global sustainable development, and a newly-developing point of economic growth and social well-being.

The Digital Earth Vision incorporates a digitally-formatted Earth accessible directly through the internet-connected citizens of the planet and supports facilitating data and information provision to others.

To achieve its aims, the Society shall endeavor to:

  • facilitate excellence in research and the development and use of appropriate technologies in the Digital Earth domain;
  • initiate and coordinate research in the fields of the Digital Earth sciences by establishing Technical Commissions and Working Groups;
  • convene International Symposia, Summits, and other meetings, with lectures, communications, discussions and, as appropriate, tutorials, exhibitions, technical visits and social events; 
  • ensure wide international circulation of research results and records of discussions through the publication of the International Journal of Digital Earth, Newsletters, proceedings of Symposia, Summits and other communications relevant to the interests of the Society and the community at large; 
  • stimulate the formation of national and regional Societies of Digital Earth and promote exchanges between such Societies; 
  • encourage interaction of the Society and its members with the community at large;
  • encourage recognition and administer awards to honor the achievements of individuals or groups;
  • represent the Digital Earth community in relevant international forums;
  • promote and facilitate education, training and technology transfer of all fields related to Digital Earth sciences;
  • promote other appropriate actions to enhance the Society's mission. 

The Society shall endeavor to cooperate with:
(a) international and regional institutions or organizations concerned with Digital Earth and relevant disciplines;
(b) inter-governmental bodies of the United Nations and other international organizations.

a) The ISDE Symposia and Summits are open to all persons interested in any aspect of Digital Earth.

b) The ISDE Symposia will normally be held every two years, in odd-numbered years.

c) The ISDE Summits will normally be held every two years, in even-numbered years. They may be convened
    more frequently, should the need arise.

The Society is open to all.

Membership of ISDE is categorized as corporate member and individual member, in which the following a), b), c) are for corporate members, and d) is for individual members.

a)    National membership – Open to all National Digital Earth Societies.

b)    Organizational membership:

                    i.    Government departments – all interested institutions.

                   ii.    Universities and research institutes – universities, research institutes, schools, colleges, etc.

                  iii.    International, regional and national societies and NGOs.

c)    Enterprise membership – companies contributing to the objectives of the ISDE.

d)    Individual membership:

                    i.    Honorary Members – honorary membership is awarded to those who have made significant contributions to the Digital Earth Vision;

                   ii.    Founding Members – the Members of the first Executive Committee Board and the Founders of the Society;

                  iii.    Individual Life Members – those individuals who contribute a single payment of five times the annual individual fees are life members;

                 iv.    Individual Members – those individuals actively engaged in Digital Earth science, activities, technology and applications;

                  v.    Individual Student Members – any bona-fide student enrolled at any educational establishment. They are qualified for reduced membership fee.

                 vi.    Individual Senior Members – those 65 years of age or over can qualify for a reduced membership fee, as well as special rates at Symposia and Summits of the Society.


All Members shall pay an annual Membership fee determined by the category of their Membership. The subscription fee for each Membership category shall be determined by the Council [9.2] and may be adjusted by the Council only at one of its ordinary meetings held during the course of a Symposium.

9.1 Officers

a)    The Officers of the Society shall be the President, the immediate Past-President, two Vice-Presidents, the Secretary-General and the Treasurer.

b)    The role of the President includes:

                      i.        Representing the Society, particularly internationally.

                     ii.        Providing direction and advice to the Council, Executive Committee, Committees of Council, Working Groups and other bodies of the ISDE

                    iii.        Presiding over meetings of the Council and Executive Committee

                   iv.        Investigating and recommending potential areas of national or international cooperation to the Council, via the Committee on Collaboration [9.4a)iv].

                    v.        Carrying out such duties as required or proposed by the Council.

                   vi.        Overseeing the implementation of the Society’s work plan.

c)    The Secretary-General has legal responsibility for the operations of the ISDE as a non-governmental organization (NGO).  Since the ISDE Secretariat is located in China, it is then governed by the Civil Code of China. The Secretary-General shall be an Official of the host institute of the ISDE Secretariat, i.e., the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

d)    Officers of the ISDE shall be elected at a Council [9.2] meeting held during a Symposium, based on recommendations from the Nominating Committee [9.4a)i]

9.2  Council

a)  The senior governing body of the Society is the Council, which is responsible for the overall direction, general strategies and conduct of the Society, approving its financial operations, and providing direction to the Secretariat.

b)  Members of the Council will be appointed or elected as provided for in the By-Laws.

c)  The Council will meet at least once each calendar year, during a Symposium or Summit.

d)  For 2012 only, the members of Council will be the members of the Executive Committee, prior to the adoption of the governance arrangements provided for in these revised Statutes [Nov 2012]. 

9.3  The Executive Committee

a)  The Executive Committee consists of the President, Secretary-General, Executive Director, the Vice-Presidents, the Treasurer and two other members appointed by the Council.

b) Unless otherwise members in their own right, the Directors of approved Symposia and Summits will become visiting members of the Executive Committee and will remain in that role until the meeting of the Executive Committee following the completion of the Symposium or Summit for which they have responsibility.

c) The Executive Committee will operate under delegation from the Council.

d)  The Executive Committee will meet at least three times each calender year, once as part of the annual meeting of the Council, and otherwise by electronic means.

e)  One delegated role of the Executive Committee is, via the Symposia and Summits Committee [9.4a)v], to monitor planning and organizational progress of forthcoming Summits and Symposia and to approve, on behalf of the Council, budgets and modified budgets for those events.

9.4  Committees

The Council has the power to establish committees, commissions, working groups or other subsidiary bodies to assist it in the discharge of its work.

a)  There are five standing committees, with responsibilities as provided for in the By-Laws:

                      i.        Nominating Committee

                     ii.        Finance and Audit Committee

                    iii.        Awards Committee

                   iv.        Committee on Collaboration

                    v.        Symposia and Summits Committee

                   vi.        Young Scientist Committee

b)  Memberships of the Standing Committees will be determined by the Council, from time to time, with each Committee chaired by a member of the Council.

c)  The Treasurer will be the chair of the Finance and Audit Committee.

d)  The Executive Director is a member, ex officio, of all ISDE committees; if required, the Executive Director can delegate this responsibility to a senior member of the Secretariat, informing the corresponding committee accordingly.

e)  There will be one Organising Committee established for each approved Symposium and Summit, with responsibilities as outlined in the By-Laws.

9.5  Administration

Day to day administration of the affairs of the Society is the responsibility of the Executive Director, supported by the Secretariat.


The By-Laws of the ISDE are designed to provide the rules and regulations for the efficient and effective operational workings of the Society.  As such, they have been generated to explain and expand on the Statutes of the ISDE, but are also considered an integral element of the organizational workings, direction, methods and management of the ISDE.

a)    Only the EC has authority to amend the Statutes and By-Laws.

b)    The Statutes may be amended under the following conditions:

  • An amendment may be formulated in writing by a Member and addressed to the Secretary-General not less than eight months prior to the date of the next EC meeting at which it is to be considered. Such an amendment must be supported by at least one other EC Member.
  • Amendments may also be formulated by the EC or a Committee appointed by the EC.
  • The Secretary General shall inform all Members of proposed amendments at least six months prior to the date fixed for the meeting of the EC at which they are to be considered. 

c)    The By-Laws may be amended under the following conditions: 

  • At least 48 hours notice must be given to Members prior to discussing amendments at a Meeting of the EC.
  • Amendments may be passed by a simple majority vote of the EC members.
  • No By-Law that contravenes any Statute shall be valid.


From time to time, the Executive Committee may issue Provisional Regulations and Directives to provide guidance during temporary situations, and all such shall be valid until they are considered at the next EC Meeting.

Only the EC may approve a decision on dissolution of the Society or amalgamation of the Society with another body. An Emergency or Special meeting must be convened for that purpose.

The official language of the Society shall be English.

The ISDE is registered in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China as an NGO. The Headquarters of the Society is in the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The Secretariat of the ISDE is headquartered at RADI. The Secretariat consists of an Executive Director and the necessary supporting staff. And the Executive Director is a member of the Council.