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Eye on Earth highlights significance of data sharing

Abu Dhabi, UAE: The third day of the Eye on Earth Summit & Exhibition saw leading environment experts and social activists call for enhanced use of technology to bridge the global environmental data gaps and thus help conserve the environment.
The proceedings started with leading American oceanographer and former chief scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle informing the gathering about the terrible state that the world’s oceans have got into because of certain cruel and thoughtless human activities.
“The world’s oceans are in trouble, which means that we are in trouble. Changes in the oceans do not bid well for our future,” she said.
However, she said that there is still hope of mitigating the effects of our past actions and technology is an important tool that can help achieve that goal. “Technology, especially geospatial technology gives us an opportunity to better understand our world and thus take corrective measures to control the damage that we have inflicted upon the environment.”
“Without the reference points that geospatial technology gives us, we could not understand how things are changing or what it means in the context of the overarching nature of the world. This technology is one of the best hopes for our future. You can’t care if you do not know,” she added while emphasising upon the need for enhanced use of geospatial technology.
The informative talk was followed by a panel discussion that saw participants update the attendees about some of the ongoing projects that aim to conserve the environment and promote sustainable development. Moderated by Philippe Cousteau Jr. (explorer, social entrepreneur and environmental advocate) the panel consisted of renowned names like Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Rolph Payet (President, University of Seychelles and special advisor to the President of Seychelles) and Thabit Abdel Salaam (Head of Biodiversity, EAD). The discussions in the session revolved around the need for discovering better ways to promote the cause of environment protection.
Thereafter, Dr. Stephen Emmott (head of computational science at Microsoft Research) gave a presentation titled ‘Bridging the Data Gap’ that aptly summed up the urgent need to fill the gaps in world’s environment data for better planning and action. Describing the urgent need to address the problem of a data drought facing the world, he said that despite the vast amount of data that we have, the type of data that we need to answer some of the most critical questions to solve a lot of global environmental challenges remains unclear.“Nearly all of the actions that we need to take today are about the future and there is no data about the future,” he added.
The penultimate day of the Summit also saw the launch of the Environmental Atlas of Abu Dhabi. Designed by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD), the 200-page Atlas displays the Emirate’s natural habitat with interesting facts, case studies, photographs, thematic maps and figures. The Atlas also features the results of various studies carried out by the AGEDI (Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative).
Being held in Abu Dhabi during 12th to 15th December 2011, the Eye on Earth Summit is a platform that brings together the world’s foremost thinkers and environment activists to create awareness about the significance of information dissemination to promote sustainable development. The Eye on Earth 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