William Sonntag

Space Enabled
  • Research Affiliate

2016 to Present - Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat, Seconded from US Environmental Protection Agency, Principal Officer, Sustainable Development Goals and Policy


  • Leads Secretariat, GEO Member Countries and Participating Organizations activities regarding the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including engagement with global partnerships and national governments.
  • Principal GEO liaison to United Nations technical agencies and institutions including the UN Statistical Commission and United Nations Environment Program, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretariat, WHO, UNOOSA and others.
  • Organizing Earth observations community to develop methodologies for data to support SDGs that include Earth observation and advanced data architectures that augment and are compatible with National Statistical Organization processes.
  • Leads the GEO Community of Practice (CoP) for Health working with partners to create work program and deliverables utilizing Earth observations and global analytics for public health policy response and disease prevention.
  • Leads the Global Observations System for Mercury GEO Fl… View full description

2016 to Present - Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat, Seconded from US Environmental Protection Agency, Principal Officer, Sustainable Development Goals and Policy


  • Leads Secretariat, GEO Member Countries and Participating Organizations activities regarding the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including engagement with global partnerships and national governments.
  • Principal GEO liaison to United Nations technical agencies and institutions including the UN Statistical Commission and United Nations Environment Program, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Secretariat, WHO, UNOOSA and others.
  • Organizing Earth observations community to develop methodologies for data to support SDGs that include Earth observation and advanced data architectures that augment and are compatible with National Statistical Organization processes.
  • Leads the GEO Community of Practice (CoP) for Health working with partners to create work program and deliverables utilizing Earth observations and global analytics for public health policy response and disease prevention.
  • Leads the Global Observations System for Mercury GEO Flagship Initiative development process associated with implementation of the Minamata Convention.
  • Co-leads with UNCCD the development of a GEO Initiative on Land Degradation Neutrality focused on national government capacity building, data methodology and global standards development.
  • Serves as principal liaison to global partnerships including the SDG Global Compacts process focusing on community level SDG development and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) implementing the “data revolution” for sustainable development emphasizing engagement with the development data community and national governments.
  • GEO Representative Eye on Earth Alliance.

2011 to 2016 - US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of International and Tribal Affairs, Office of Global Affairs and Policy, Advisor, Environmental Policy and Informatics


  • Lead EPA staff for Sustainable Development Goals negotiation and development, United Nations General Assembly.
  • Desk Officer, United Nations Environment (UNEP) including delegation preparation for UN Environment Assembly and Governing Council meetings.
  • US Delegate OECD Working Party on Environmental Information.
  • Representative to UN Statistical Commission and member Expert Group on
  • Environmental Statistics.
  • Member, US GEO Data Management and International Activities Workgroups.
  • Member GEO Standards, Interoperability Forum (SIF).
  • Member BioEco Working Group, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science Foundation.
  • Health and Human Services Office of Global Policy, NIH and WHO Liaison.
  • US representative, UAE Eye on Earth Initiative.

1999 to 2011 - US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Information, Immediate Office of the Chief Information Officer and Assistant Administrator (from 2001), Principal International Liaison and Liaison to Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

  • US Co-Convenor, Ecoinformatics Technical Collaboration Process co-convened with European Environment Agency and including USGS, NSF, DOE, CDC, European Commission Research and Environment Directorates, Joint Research Centre and others.
  • Negotiated the first ever Research and Ecoinformatics Implementing Arrangement under the US EU Science and Technology Bilateral Agreement.
  • Negotiated an EPA, CDC Memorandum of Understanding and led EPA, HHS, CDC efforts to develop the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network and coordination of environmental health research agenda.
  • Initiation and responsibility for most of the elements noted in the activities described during tenure at EPA OITA above.

1997 to 2011 - US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Reinvention & Office of Environmental Information, Senior Staff, Data Standards Branch


  • Led EPA staff, State and Tribal Representatives in the development of data standards for exchange of environmental data.
  • Helped develop and implement the US Environmental Information Exchange Network with States and Tribes.
  • Served as liaison to industry groups on data reporting and exchange with EPA

1989 to 1997 - Fabricated Metals Industry, National Trade Associations and Professional Society, Vice President for Government Affairs


  • Government Affairs practice for environmental issues with Executive Agencies (EPA), Congress.

1986 to 1989 - Building Industry Association of Maryland, Government Relations


  • Government Relations practice, Maryland General Assembly and Executive Departments

1984 to 1986 - Office of Representative Robert S Walker, Ranking Minority Member, House Science and Technology Committee, Congressional Staff


  • Constituent services and Science Committee activities

1980 to 1984 - Pennsylvania State Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Staff Director


  • Staff director organizing hearings, testimony, interface with legislative counsel, State Department of Agriculture, industry and agriculture and conservation NGO groups.

RECENT MEETINGS CONVENED ORGANIZED

  • Co-organized GEO Earth Observations for SDGs Side Event GEO Plenary October 2017
  • Co-convened Global Observation System for Mercury with USEPA and GEO Flagship Initiative October 2017
  • Co-convened with GPSDD, Earth Observations and Geospatial data how-to session for national delegations, UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
  • Organized Earth Observations for Sustainable Development Initiative Panel Session, GEO Work Programme Symposium and International Symposium on Remote Sensing and the Environment, Tshwane, South Africa April 2017
  • Organized and Panel Moderator for Earth Observations and Geospatial Data Examples and Applications, UN Statistical Commission Annual Meeting.

RECENT PUBLICATION

EDUCATION

BA Political Science, 1979, Millersville University of Pennsylvania