The second Eye on Earth Summit was held in Abu Dhabi this month and one of its main outcomes was a commitment to practical measures to close the data gap that hinders decision and policy making for sustainable development.
These solutions include addressing the data needs of specific geographic regions, harnessing big data for sustainable development, building capacity and infrastructure for reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and incorporating big data in decision-making processes.
The Eye on Earth Summit followed the historic adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which encompasses 17 global goals. Achieving progress on these goals and associated targets will require collaboration from all sectors as well as innovative ways of involving citizens and business in monitoring their progress.
The Summit recognized the important role that citizen science can play by supporting governments in filling data gaps, particularly across the environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development. The delegates announced that a global coalition of citizen science groups will be established and the Eye on Earth Alliance will continue to engage citizen science groups so that new data can be generated in areas where gaps are evident.
Several participating organizations called for the establishment of Special Interest Groups on priority issues where data delivery, information access and knowledge sharing need to be enhanced to support the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. These groups aim to bring together communities of experts to find solutions to very specific data issues. More than 30 proposals of such groups were submitted during the summit, 7 of them focusing on issues in the Arab region.
The Eye on Earth Alliance partners also agreed to formalize a governance framework and institutional arrangements by the end of 2015. The five existing members – the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) – announced plans to enlarge the Alliance strategically to support regional and thematic interests. By the close of the Summit, six major organizations expressed interest to join the Alliance.
In her closing address H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak called on Summit delegates and the wider global community to lend their support to the Eye on Earth movement.
“It is no longer possible for one entity, agency, government or region to work independently. No one member can carry the burden alone. We must share the responsibility and we must collectively strengthen our resolve. The task ahead is too large and too important. We need to commit to a shared future where environmental and societal data can improve decisions that lead to a more sustainable planet,” said Al Mubarak.
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