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October 5, 2015
Abu Dhabi to Welcome Global Environmental Leaders at Eye on Earth Summit 2015

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Oct 2015 — Sustainability thought leaders, members of the United Nations and global experts in environmental and information networking will convene in Abu Dhabi tomorrow for Eye on Earth Summit 2015.  Held under the patronage of United Arab Emirates President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the three-day Summit aims to promote dialogue and drive international action that revolutionises the way we collect, access, share and use data and information for sustainable development.

Eye on Earth Summit 2015, taking place from 6-8 October in Abu Dhabi, is the first international gathering of sustainability stakeholders to follow the adoption of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development by the UN Heads of State. With the theme of “Informed Decision-Making for Sustainable Development”, the Summit will highlight 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 Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), the environmental regulator for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, is a founding Eye on Earth Alliance Partner. HE Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General at EAD said: “As the first international summit following the release of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Eye on Earth Summit 2015 will be the world’s foremost event dedicated to identifying solutions for greater access to and sharing of environmental, social and economic data. Equipping decision makers with the necessary data and information to make informed decisions is crucial as we all work towards delivering on the post-2015 development agenda to safeguard the future of the planet and humanity, and we hope that the Summit will allow us to agree on the right roadmap to achieve goals outlined in the agenda.”

More than 150 prominent international speakers will explore the supply, demand and enabling conditions of environmental-related data and information, and the crucial role this plays in creating a healthier planet. The launch of several major Eye on Earth projects also form part of the Summit programme. These cover the Special Initiatives focus areas of equal access, linked networks, education, biodiversity, community sustainability and resiliency, disaster management, water security, oceans and blue carbon.

The Summit will open with a focus on policy maker demand for environmental-related data, taking a look at the challenges faced in finding data and information required to make evidence-based decisions. Topics include: difficulties in sharing data and information across countries and regions; resistance from governments and other institutions to making data freely open and accessible; responding to commercial imperatives from the private sector; and the need for data to sustain communities in upheaval. Featured speakers include:

  • Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Minister for State for Federal National Council Affairs
  • Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, Minister of  Environment and Water
  • Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations  Environment Programme (UNEP) and Undersecretary General of the UN as keynote
  • Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Director of Energy & Climate Change at UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Robbie Schingler, Co-Founder and President of Planet      Labs
  • 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 at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science  (OES)

Day two of the Summit will address the problems impeding the availability of and access to environmental-related data, including the logarithmic data explosion, both in terms of volume and sources. It will also explore the undiscovered potential of new resources and technologies to support the world’s transition to a sustainable future. Speakers include:

  • Barbara Ryan, Secretariat Director of the Group on  Earth Observations as keynote
  • H.E. Dr. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of  the UAE Space Agency
  • Philemon Mjwara, Director General of the South African  Ministry of Science and Technology
  • 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, the Geospatial Technologist at Google

The Summit will conclude with a focus on the necessary conditions to support effective synergies between data users and data providers. Policy arenas, funding commitments and capacity building are some of the topics to be covered by speakers such as:

  • Inger Anderson, Director General of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as keynote
  • Professor Enrico Giovannini, Italian economist and statistician who was also the co-chair of the “Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development”, established by the Secretary General of the United Nations
  • Hon. Dr. Wilber Khasilwa Ottichilo, Member of  Parliament of Emuhaya Constituency in Kenya

By the end of the three-day Summit, experts aim to reach consensus on several outcomes, including the launch of new Special Initiatives, the formation of new partnerships, the implementation of data governance frameworks and the promotion of new environmental data policies in countries where this is most needed.

Live social media feeds will allow the wider global community to tune in to the Summit and initiate dialogue with attendees. The full Summit agenda and list of speakers can be found at

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