24 October 2018: At the opening of the Eye on Earth (EoE) Symposium 2018, Razan Al Mubarak, Secretary-General, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and host of the EoE Network Coordination Unit, highlighted information-related obstacles to sustainable development, and the Symposium’s aim of addressing them based on the principle of free, open and accessible data that contributes to the 2030 Agenda. Participants at the Symposium discussed a number of data-based initiatives that contribute to SDG monitoring.

The Symposium convened from 22-24 October 2018, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and was organized by EAD in partnership with the UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority and the Eye on Earth Alliance. The event took place in parallel with the second UN World Data Forum.

As reported by IISD’s Reporting Services, discussions addressed improving and harmonizing air quality data to map health impacts of air pollution, as well as the scarcity of data on the impacts of indoor pollution. Discussions also stressed the need for investing in long-term solutions. On the issue of environment-related statistics on SDGs in the Arab region, speakers suggested: bringing stakeholders together to review the SDG indicators; translating them into Arabic; and further contextualizing them within the SDGs. The application of Earth observation data to support investment decision making was also discussed.

Many sessions focused on specific data initiatives, including:

  • Global Forest Watch and Resource Watch, which are data platforms that seek to enable informed decision making and accountability;
  • The Global Forest Link project, which engages school-age youth in project-based learning;
  • The Environmental Conventions Index, which tracks implementation rates of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) dealing with chemicals (Basel and Stockholm), wetlands (Ramsar), and wildlife protection (CITES);
  • The Initiative on Big Data on Environment for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action, which analyzes data, maps trends, creates scenarios and identifies emerging issues that would help with prevention and data modeling;
  • The Citizen Science Global Partnership and Earth Challenge 2020, which will help fulfill the goal of engaging millions of global citizens in collecting one billion data points on issues including air and water quality, pollution and human health;
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Ecosystems (IUCN-REL), which provides a baseline to support conservation in resource use and management decisions by identifying ecosystems most at risk of biodiversity loss;
  • The UN Biodiversity Lab, a joint project of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP); and
  • The System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA), which is an international statistical standard that integrates environmental and economic data to provide a more comprehensive and multipurpose view of the relationship between the environment and the economy.

[IISD RS meeting coverage]