Frequently asked questions
Eye On Earth
What is Eye on Earth
Eye on Earth is a global summit meeting that focuses on the issue of greater access to environmental and societal data by all of those who need it. The inaugural Summit was held in Abu Dhabi, 12th - 15th December. The Summit was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.
Why Convene Eye on Earth
The vision of Eye on Earth was formed almost ten years ago. On 2 September 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, Abu Dhabi Global Environment Data Initiative (AGEDI) was announced by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a Type II Initiative. The need to ensure readily accessible, accurate and relevant data from which to inform sound environmental management, monitoring and performance was emphasised. Today’s challenges have grown beyond those faced in 2002. Water scarcity, food security and climate change are issues of policy that require action and solutions that extend beyond political boundaries. The need for collaboration, information and understanding is greater than ever. Access to environmental knowledge is critical. Wise decision-making depends on an ever-growing pool of often hard-to-access data. It may be absent, inaccessible or simply hidden. As a result of inaccurate decision-making caused by the lack of useable quality data, Emerging Economies in particular are losing valuable environmental assets. These are issues that can only be resolved by a concerted effort of all those involved, from information specialists to policymakers. Eye on Earth will address this challenge by convening world leaders, the environmental and societal information networking movement and others to celebrate ‘best-impact’ data initiatives from around the globe, converge on key issues to reach consensus on solutions to greater data accessibility and collaborate to strengthen existing initiatives and, where necessary, to launch new ones.
Who is behind Eye on Earth
Transformational change on a broad, large-scale and global issue like sustainable development comes from increased cross-sector coordination rather than isolated interventions from individual organizations. In this spirit, the Eye on Earth Alliance will consist of stakeholder organizations of all types that are actively participating in the Eye on Earth process by addressing its common agenda to deliver collective impact.
What are the key issues being addressed under Eye on Earth?
With a focus on the data and information needs and gaps required for more effective decision making towards sustainable development, this catalytic and niche role of the Eye on Earth Alliance will be based on a number of guiding principles:
- Improve equitable access to information
- Develop adequate institutional and legislative enabling conditions for further implementation of Principle 10
- Further advance upon existing interoperability standards and mechanisms for information exchange and management
- Make credible, relevant and timely information more available
- Keep information management close to the source
- Provide effective mechanisms for collection of environmental, economic and social information and avoid unnecessary duplication in data collection
- Information supports reporting obligations and decision making
- Address information gaps from both the demand and supply perspectives
- Integrates economic, environmental and social information to advance sustainable development issues
- Foster collaboration among communities, networks, systems, institutions and technology providers
- Further strengthen existing initiatives and supports development of networks and regional cooperation
- Strengthen capacity building and technology support for developing and transitioning countries
- Enhance efforts on incorporating environmental information and programs into education curriculum
- Further develop Public Private Partnerships for use of ICT
How are the key issues and topics being identified and developed?
Transformational change on a broad, large-scale and global issue like sustainable development comes from increased cross-sector coordination rather than isolated interventions from individual organizations. In this spirit, the Eye on Earth Summit preparation committees will consist of stakeholder organizations of all types that are actively participating in the Eye on Earth process by addressing its common agenda to deliver collective impact. Working Groups comprising of thought leaders in their fields who represent a variety of sector interests. Key areas of interest will be determined with Working Groups for each, they will convene to identify and frame the most challenging environmental data and information issues.
What are the SIs
The SIs are one of the outcomes of the first Eye on Earth Summit that was held in Abu Dhabi in 2011. They are eight (8) in total; three (3) Foundational SIs, and five (5) Thematic SIs. The 3 Foundational SIs are Access for All; Environmental Education; and Global Network of Networks. These SIs have the ambition to be cross-cutting the 5 Thematic SIs, which are Biodiversity; Community Sustainability and Resiliency; Disaster Management; Oceans and Blue Carbon; and Water Security. More specifically, the SIs have the potential to be an agent of change of historical proportions and impact; they are identified as a compelling and common need across the Eye on Earth Community. Moreover, the SIs benefit from high level support and commitment in order to be implemented within a reasonable period of time
How did the SIs come about
A critical objective of the Eye on Earth Summit was to ensure compelling, specific, achievable outcomes that translate the principles of the Summit to tangible commitments and actions. The chosen eight Special Initiatives are those considered by the Eye on Earth Community to fundamentally improve the landscape of environmental and societal information networking for the benefit of mankind, and from which compelling and tangible results can be achieved over the next 2-5 years. The SIs were formulated by five (5) Working Groups that were established as part the Eye on Earth Summit 2011 preparatory process. These multi-stakeholder groups developed white papers for each Working Group that introduced key issues areas for the Summit. From these, many suggestions were made for Special Initiatives, which were clustered and voted upon by the stakeholder community. 8 SIs were determined based on this poll, sub-groups developed and white papers produced for announcement at the Summit.
Who makes up the Eye on Earth SI community
The Eye on Earth SI community is composed by around 225 stakeholders, across more than 120 organisations. These organisations represent different sectors, some being government agencies, others intergovernmental organisations, representatives from the private sector as well as nonprofit organisations and academia. They also operate in a variety of fields, including but not limited to Geographic Information Science (GIS), Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), Conservation, Sustainable Development, … These stakeholders are a voluntary group of experts that meet regularly to advance the outcomes set for each SI through collaboration, networking and implementation of projects
How do I participate
Anyone interested in enhancing the access to and availability of reliable environmental and societal data and information can join the community. Choose the Special Initiative of interest for your organisation and start joining the monthly calls to see how you can participate in projects or maybe start one of your own.
Is there a fee to join the Eye on Earth SI community
Joining the Eye on Earth SI community is free of charge and does not entail financial contribution of any sort. It is done on a voluntary basis and gives you the opportunity to engage with highly motivated and knowledgeable individuals in their respective fields.
When was the first Eye on Earth Summit
The inaugural Eye on Earth Summit hosted approximately 1500 invited delegates. These included current and former heads of state, Government Ministers, Environment Ministers, international environmental agency heads, leaders and officials from a wide range of international bodies ranging from the EU and World Bank to NGOs and academic organisations, international finance and development assistance institutions, private foundations, non-governmental organisations, scientific, technological and educational bodies, the private sector, media, civil society and youth. The delegates were united by a common interest in advancing environmental policy and decision-making through the development, networking and application of environmental data and information.
Who spoke at the Summit
The Summit included a unique and dynamic blend of prominent speakers from the worlds of, business, government, philanthropy, data engineering and technology, environmental protection, industry, civil society and youth. Speakers at the Eye on Earth 2011included former heads of state, royalty, global business leaders, the world’s top environmentalists, scientists and economists and high level executives from the data and information industries. The Summit programme included a diverse mix of components, designed to provoke, inform and inspire positive action. To ensure a programme that was as relevant and impactful as possible, the Eye on Earth Summit agenda and schedule were developed with the aid of a system of Summit Governance representing all aspects of the global environmental and social data movements. For individual presenters visit Speakers 2011.
What were the issues addressed at the Summit
The Summit included parallel sessions in which the individual Working Groups focused on key Foundation areas that are central to the theme of environmental and societal information for decision making. These were the focus areas of each of the Working Groups and include: Policy, Governance and Institutional Networking; Content and User Needs; Technical Infrastructure and; Capacity Building, Education and Awareness. These Sessions included individual presentations and panel sessions from key practitioners. The aim of these Sessions was to socialise the findings of the Working Groups, as outlined in the Working Group White Papers, with a wider audience and shape commitments for further development and implementation.
What were the outcomes
The Summit produced a ministerial-level Eye on Earth Declaration on environmental data and information that will be carried forward to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. In addition from the Summit, was the announcement of a number of Special Initiatives each focused on solving specific issues related to access to, and use of, environmental data and information. These initiatives are being developed through a multi-stakeholder Working Group process. The Special Initiatives will be carried forward through Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) with relevant identified stakeholders. For more information about the agreed Special Initiatives visit Summit Outcomes.
Was there an Exhibition
Yes, the Exhibition included a dynamic, multi-media mix of informational and educational products. These included:
- Technology Showcase; demonstrated how GIS and other environmental information technologies have been used successfully in the field;
- AGEDI Showcase; provided insight into the history, current positioning and future of AGEDI, the AGEDI products, partners, stakeholders and members who have contributed to AGEDI’s success. The key partners presented the projects and were available for discussion throughout the 3.5 days.
- UN Pavilion, brought together UNEP and other UN agencies, funds and programmes;
- Eye on Earth Theatre, included award winning films, videos, photos from key environmental organisations from around the world including National Geographic, Conservation International, EWS-WWF. The theatre also hosted a number of presentations including: Dr. Jane Goodall to the students of the UAE on Generation eYe day, local UAE TV personality Ali Al Saloom, Philippe Cousteau, co Founder of EarthEcho International and Azure Worldwide and Daniel Edelson, Senior Vice President, Education, National Geographic Society
- Innovation Forum, provided examples of new, leading edge technologies and project applications. In addition, the Exhibition’s centre stage and adjoining areas included programmed presentations as well as informal, “pop-up” meetings to learn more about the innovations and technologies available in the field of environmental and geospatial data access.
When is the next Eye on Earth Summit?
The next Eye on Earth Summit will be held in Abu Dhabi from the 6th to the 8th of October 2015. The event will be held at the Ritz Carlton, Grand Canal, Abu Dhabi.
Who will be attending the Eye on Earth Summit 2015?
The Eye on Earth Summit will be an invitation only event, with approximately 650 high level thinkers and leaders in their respective fields. They will come from diverse backgrounds such as governmental, intergovernmental, civil society, technical and scientific organisations, academia, private sector, donor and development agencies. However, the invitees will come in their personal capacity, and will be representing themselves; the goal is to have a lower key Davos type of Summit where these leaders and thinkers can share ideas and objectives towards attaining a more sustainable world through better access to data and information.
What will be the issues addressed at the Summit?
One of the goals of the Summit will be to showcase the progress made since the first Summit in 2011, notably in the field of the 8 Special Initiatives and of the related projects that have blossomed from them. Another goal will be to strengthen the Eye on Earth Alliance to facilitate the sharing of environmental, societal and economic data and information, provided by the diversity of knowledge communities, to support sustainable development. It will be the chance to reflect on progress made in terms of framing the Eye on Earth Alliance as well as leveraging further funding opportunities outside of AGEDI.