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Eye on Earth
September 27, 2015, 5:31 pm

Following the success of the 2011 inaugural Summit, Eye on Earth 2015 will take center-stage from 6 to 8 October at the St. Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi’s landmark Saadiyat Island. Held under the patronage of UAE President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Summit will explore the critical need for better access to and sharing of environmental, social and economic data to support informed decision-making for sustainable development.

Despite technological and scientific advancements, decision makers often lack vital data on the state of the world’s resources. Eye on Earth is a global movement that aims to improve access to and sharing of environmental, social and economic data, to better inform decision-making for sustainable development. Its primary goal is to convene thought and action leaders to converge on key areas of mutual importance, and collaborate on initiatives to close the data gap.

The 2015 Summit will once again aim to promote dialogue and drive international action that revolutionizes the way we collect, access, share and use data and information for real-world change. The summit will also seek to foster a culture of collaboration through a network committed to achieving scalable impact for a sustainable future.

With the UN’s post-2015 development agenda firmly positioning sustainability at the fore of global priorities this year and beyond, Eye on Earth Summit 2015 will cast a spotlight on the role that governments, technology, the scientific community and citizen participation play in enhancing access to quality data about the state of the world’s resources.

“The Eye on Earth network is just getting started, but it could substantially alter the course of sustainable development for generations to come. Its potential impact has been likened to the equivalent of the Human Genome Revolution. That’s how important and valuable environmental-related data could become. The cooperation between stakeholders in government, academic, civil society and the private sector remains the most important element in Eye on Earth’s success. Everyone can, and should, lend their support to this endeavor,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

On a macro level, a successful Eye on Earth Summit and growing international movement could mean the slowing down of natural resource depletion and an increased adoption of greener economies. It could ensure responsible urban policies and education for the improved management of urban growth, as well as the advancement of knowledge and innovation to guide all countries towards a promising and sustainable future.

On a micro level, it is hoped the Summit will provide the tools and opportunities necessary for stakeholders to foster partnerships to support informed decision-making and continue collaborating long after the Summit. Increased funding will also allow community-run Special Initiative programs to assist in the achievement of SDGs and other global environmental goals.

“We have a shared responsibility, globally, to address the topic of sustainability in the face of continuing population growth. By understanding how we access, use and support environmental-related data, we will strengthen our capabilities to develop environmental policies and regulations, ensure appropriate enforcement and enhance sustainable development,” said Mr. Steiner.

The Summit received an outstanding response to its request for new project proposals. These projects which relate to the collection, provision and usage of environmental-related data could radically change the way the world approaches sustainable development
Among the 120 projects prepared are proposals for:

• A Global Coastal Carbon Data Archive which would increase the accuracy of and confidence in global estimates of carbon storage, as well as emissions from coastal ecosystems
• A Fellowship of Conservation Leaders to help developing nations build capacity for this essential skillset among the next generation of leaders
• Strengthening information infrastructure for emergency management and disaster risk reduction
• Creation of an Open Data Programme specifically for the coastal resilience of island communities so they can monitor and share the status of key sustainability metrics in the protection of species and natural habitats

Elaborating on the projects, Mr. Steiner added, “To ensure a future of sustainability and equity for our planet, we must be able to make informed choices and decisions, be they in business, government or as individual citizens. But informed choices cannot be made without the support of robust, accurate and comprehensive data. The Eye on Earth project concepts, once funded and implemented, can provide much-needed capacity and infrastructure for data collection, storage, analysis and dissemination. There is no question that a prosperous future is a sustainable one. The projects can help us realize it.”

“We have been overwhelmed by the number and quality of project submissions received. This sends a strong message of conviction in the Eye on Earth process and the important role it plays in connecting networks and building capacity across diverse knowledge communities to improve decision-making for sustainable development,” said H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, and founding Eye on Earth Alliance Partner.

Summit 2015 will feature a dynamic blend of prominent speakers from the worlds of business, government, philanthropy, data engineering and technology, environmental protection, industry, civil society and youth, who will explore the supply and demand dynamics, enabling conditions, and crucial role of data and information in creating a healthier planet.

Speaker panel for Eye on Earth

Professor Jacqueline McGlade - UNEP Chief Scientist and Director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment

•       Felix Dodds - Senior Fellow at the Global Research Institute of the University of North Carolina and an Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute
•       Dr. Fernando R. Echavarria – Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science (OES)
•       Muki Haklay - Professor of Geographic Information Science at University College London (UCL) and director of its Extreme Citizen Science group
•       Louis Liebenberg - Executive Director of CyberTracker Conservation NPC and an Associate of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University
•       Ed Parsons - Geospatial Technologist of Google responsible for evangelising Google’s mission to organise the world’s information using geography
•       Enrico Giovannini - distinguished Italian economist and statistician
•       Thomas Brooks – Head of Science and Knowledge, IUCN
•     Dr. Mae Jemison - First African American Woman in Space. Currently Leading 100 Year Starship (An initiative to assure the capability for human interstellar space travel to another star is possible within the next 100 years).
•       Rodrigo Barriga-Vargas - Secretary General – Pan American Institute of Geography and History
•   Lian Pin Koh, PhD – Regional Technical Advisor for Conservation International, a TED speaker, and Founding Director of the non-profit
•      John Scanlon - Secretary-General of CITES
•       Maria Eugenia Arreola - Director of the Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program at the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature
•       Nadia Makram Ebeid - Executive Director of the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE)
•       Patricia Zurita - CEO, BirdLife International
•       Hon. Dr. Wilber Khasilwa Ottichilo - Member of Parliament of Emuhaya Constituency in Kenya
•       Robbie Schingler – Co-founder and President, Planet Labs
•       Catherine Coleman – Astronaut, NASA
•        Pierre-Yves Cousteau – Conservationist and President, Cousteau Divers

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