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Experts call for enhanced environment information exchange

Abu Dhabi, UAE: The second day of the Eye on Earth Conference and Exhibition saw an esteemed group of speakers including former US President Bill Clinton, Sha Zukang, Achim Steiner, Monique Barbut, Hernando de Soto, Mark Plotkins, Gilberto Camara, Jack Dangermond, Jane Goodall, Jacqueline McGlade and Susan Hockfield bring forth the importance of information sharing to sustain the environment and deal with global environmental challenges like global warming and climate change.

The day began with a brilliant slideshow that struck the audience with certain hard facts about how the thoughtless actions of humans are destroying the environment, but concluded with the reassuring message that we still have the time to save it.

The spellbinding presentation was followed by a speech from President Bill Clinton on the tremendous importance of information sharing for preserving our environment. Speaking in his customary fashion, Clinton said that it was extremely heartening to see an environment conference take place in Abu Dhabi. “Having a conference in the Gulf that talked about data and emissions would have been impossible until a few years ago. We are doing it here because we realise that the path we have taken is not sustainable.”

In his speech and the question answer session that followed, Clinton enlightened the audience with his experiences gained around the world while working for the Clinton Foundation.

He also said that in an interdependent world, environmental problems are global issues and not just belong to a particular region. “We are all going to be affected with things that began elsewhere. If the Greenland icecaps keep melting at this rate, all the water could block the Gulf stream and thus push some of the regions around the globe into conditions similar to that of the ice age.” Clinton concluded his speech by underlining the significance of trying to prevent disasters rather than concentrating on effective management of post-disaster scenarios.

Subsequently, Sha Zukang, Undersecretary General of the United Nations stressed on the need for geospatial data to better equip ourselves to deal with unforeseen circumstances. “Of particular interest is the advancement in geospatial information collection and analysis. GIS is capable of measuring progress of all the three pillars of sustainable development. GIS helps in disaster preparedness as well as mitigating its effects. Flood hazard mapping has proven to be vital for planning in flood prone areas. GIS can be humanity’s eye on earth.”

Monique Barbut, CEO of the Global Environment Facility also underlined the significance of technology to address some of the global challenges, saying that GIS and remote sensing can be applied in the developing world to support sustainable environment management practices. She also informed the gathering about some of the agency’s ongoing projects that are aimed at encouraging sustainable environment practices around the world.

Esri President Jack Dangermond talked about GeoDesign and its ability to integrate geospatial technology into design process with the ultimate aim of living harmoniously with nature. He also informed how geospatial tools can help in ensuring sustainable development, environment protection and forest conservation.

The Eye on Earth Summit, taking place at Abu Dhabi during 12th to 15th December 2011, brings together the world’s foremost thinkers and environment activists on a common platform to create awareness about the significance of proper dissemination of information and promote sustainable development. The Summit is being organised by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Source: Our Correspondent