Abu Dhabi to host Eye on Earth summit

Abu Dhabi is set to host the first ever Eye on Earth Summit from December 12-15 2011, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), according to a release jointly issued by the UNEP, summit secretariat, the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency and the Environmental Data Initiative, Abu Dhabi.

The summit, according to the release, will focus on the issue of greater access to environmental and societal data, for which Abu Dhabi has over the past ten years undertaken to develop thought and practice leadership.

Giving a backgrounder to the upcoming summit, the four organizers said despite progress made after Abu Dhabi launched, under the guidance and patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg In 2002, much still remains to be done.

The release said although the AGEDI was designed nine years ago, to help the world’s emerging economies acquire and best use of environmental information, there is still missing, inaccessible or hidden data that cannot contribute to decision-making, but may instead result in flawed judgments with serious consequences.

According to the organizers, Abu Dhabi’s Eye on Earth summit thus aims to find the solutions that will fill those gaps, and by so doing, help the world move towards a more sustainable future, based on informed policy-making.

“Eye on Earth will address this challenge by convening world leaders, the environmental and societal information networking movement and others to identify and celebrate ‘best-impact’; those data initiatives from around the globe delivering greatest benefit,; reach a consensus on the key issues regarding greater data accessibility and encourage stakeholders to collaborate to strengthen existing initiatives and, where necessary, to launch new ones.”

The Summit will be hosted by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), facilitated by the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and held in partnership with UNEP, while an exhibition will showcase the latest developments in environmental information and technology.

“Across the world, sharing information has always been crucial to good decision-making. Ensuring that environmental and societal data is accessible to all those who need it whether scientists, communities, governments or thought-leaders, is essential to moving the world towards a future founded on informed policy-making. This is especially the case in emerging economies and to ensure sustainable development patterns. I am very proud that EAD will be hosting this summit,” said H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD.

Welcoming the announcement of the Summit, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP said: “In the run-up to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Eye on Earth presents a timely opportunity to identify practical measures to bridge the environmental knowledge gap and deliver the information and data needed to support a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient global Green Economy.”

EAD is Abu Dhabi’s environmental regulator and advises the government on environmental policy, while UNEP is the designated authority of the United Nations system in environmental issues at the global and regional level. UNEP’s mission is ‘to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations’.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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