Eye on Earth6 October 2015: The second Eye on Earth Summit has opened in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with leaders hailing the agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that was unanimously adopted by UN Member States in September. The Summit aims to spark new partnerships, agreement on guidelines for data governance and support for countries developing their own environmental data policies.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), said the global agreement on sustainable development has highlighted the need for transparent, timely and accurate data and information on the state of the world’s resources.

In his keynote address, Achim Steiner, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, emphasized the environmental challenges of marine debris, biodiversity loss and deforestation. He stressed the potential for citizen science and engagement to generate and use data in tracking progress toward overcoming these challenges, calling on everyone to “convene, converge and collaborate.” He cited examples of the use of data in addressing environmental problems, such as the Bloomberg Water Risk Valuation Tool that links mining companies’ water management actions to their potential share prices, and the mapping of over 10,000 logging roads in the Congo Basin to identify forestry violations and highlight potential conflicts over land rights.

Steiner noted that developing open and dynamic connectivity is a complex task that will require providing internet access and related technologies to countries around the world, citing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s speech to the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September: “If we want to unite the world, we must first connect the world.”

The three-day Eye on Earth Summit features speeches, discussion panels and networking sessions organized around the themes of data demand, data supply and enabling conditions. The various thematic sessions include presentations on: the use of environmental data to assess business performance and monitor human health; joint fact finding on oceans and blue carbon; data integration for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and open data policies, among other topics. Several publications and initiatives will be launched at the summit, including an African Mountain Atlas and the ‘Implementation Guide for the UNEP Bali Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.’

The first Eye on Earth Summit took place in 2011, organized by EAD, the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and UNEP. For this second Summit, convening on 6-8 October 2015, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Resources Institute (WRI) joined as partners. [IISD RS Coverage of Eye on Earth Summit] [Eye on Earth Website] [Agenda] [UNEP Executive Director’s Statement] [UNEP Press Release] [IISD RS Coverage of UN Sustainable Development Summit]