September 1, 2015 – Some of the world’s most respected leaders in sustainable development are confirmed to speak at the second Eye on Earth Summit, taking place from 6 to 8 October in Abu Dhabi.
Held under the patronage of The President HH 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.
With the 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 governments, technology, the scientific community and citizen participation play in enhancing access to quality data about the state of the world’s resources. Close to 30 sessions will be delivered by more than 100 speakers across the three-day Summit. Speakers will explore the supply and demand dynamics, enabling conditions, and crucial role of data and information in creating a healthier planet.
2015 will mark a turning point for sustainable development, poverty eradication and the protection of the planet with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a new global climate change agreement likely to be enacted by the end of the year.
“The events of 2015 make the work of Eye on Earth more important than ever as we come together – governments, the private sector, academia and civil society – to improve information availability and quality to safeguard the future of the planet and humanity. At Summit 2015 we hope to agree the roadmap that will get us there,” said HE Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, a founding Eye on Earth Alliance Partner.
The Eye on Earth Summit will open with a focus on policy maker demand for environmental-related data and the associated challenges in using it to make evidence-based decisions. Led by Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Undersecretary General of the UN, issues such as inconsistent data sharing mechanisms across countries and regions, institutional attitudes to open-source data policies and responding to commercial imperatives from the private sector, are some of the topics that will be discussed. The need for data to address the Syrian refugee crisis will be another critical agenda item.
Felix Dodds, Senior Fellow at the Global Research Institute of the University of North Carolina and an Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute; Jonathan Kent Deal, CEO of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, considered the green equivalent of the Nobel prize; and Dr. Fernando R. Echavarria from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science (OES), will be among the esteemed guest speakers discussing these issues.
Barbara Ryan, Secretariat Director of the Group on Earth Observations will open day two of the Summit, looking at the problems impeding the availability of and access to environmental-related data. She will be joined by 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; and Ed Parsons, the Geospatial Technologist of Google responsible for evangelising Google’s mission to organise the world’s information using geography.
Looking in detail at the logarithmic data explosion, both in terms of volume and sources, day two of the Summit will explore the undiscovered potential of new resources, such as crowd sourcing, citizen science and cutting-edge technologies to engage many more actors in the world’s transition to a sustainable future.
The Summit will conclude on day three 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 that will be discussed. Inger Anderson, Director General of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) will deliver day three’s opening address. She will be joined by as well as Enrico Giovannini, the distinguished Italian economist and statistician.
“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 endeavour,” 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 programmes 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. Live social media feeds will allow the wider global community to tune in to the Summit and initiate dialogue with attendees. –