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Summit highlights role of g-tech in sustaining environment

Abu Dhabi, UAE: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it,” said explorer Rob Swan O.B.E as he concluded his presentation to round off day one of the Eye on Earth Summit & Exhibition.

Hosted by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD), in association with Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Eye on Earth Summit & Exhibition is being held in the capital city of Abu Dhabi from 12th to 15th December, 2011. The Summit brings together global leaders, innovators and decision-makers from around the globe in an endeavour to draft a blueprint for better utilisation of the planet’s vast quantity of environmental data for the betterment of the developing and the developed world.

Earlier in the day, Esri President Jack Dangermond highlighted the significance of geospatial data to make sure that the goal of preserving our environment is achieved and also briefed the gathering on how new technologies are revolutionising the way information is being understood and used the world over.

“Geospatial information can be likened to the nervous system of our planet,” he said while emphasising on the need for better use of geographic data to promote sustainable development. Underlining the growing significance of the cloud, Dangermond said, “The most revolutionary aspect of geospatial information today is its migration to the cloud, which allows users easy access to all the information through internet. The challenge is to migrate the vast amount of data on to this system so that it benefits everyone.”

The Summit was kick-started by H. E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the EAD and Co-chair, Eye on Earth. Welcoming the gathering during her opening remarks, she urged people from all around the planet to come together and help protect the environment and promote sustainable development. “We have all gathered here today to safeguard the environment for our future generations. There should be a concerted effort to collect and disseminate environmental data to facilitate the process of decision making and thus promote sustainable development,” she said.

Cathrine Armour, Programme Manager of the AGEDI said that the world is filled with signs of human impact and that sharing of environmental information is essential to contain that impact. Dr. Adel Abdel-Kader, Office of Charge of UNEP regional office for West Asia added to the talks of his preceding speakers, saying that the Summit was not just about data but also about the means to get that data in order to solve global problems.

Open Sessions

The Open Sessions held throughout the day underlined the significance of information sharing in various spheres, brought forth some of the issues plaguing the process of smooth exchange of information and also looked for possible solutions to address those issues.

The four working groups held concurrently were based on themes including ‘Policy, Governance & Institutional Networking’, ‘Content & User Needs’, ‘Technical Infrastructure’ and ‘Capacity Building, Education & Awareness Building’.

The working group on Policy, Governance & Institutional Networking sought to study the kind of information networks in existence around the world and also the kind of governance that is in existence in those networks. The discussions concluded on the note that there should be coordination between various kinds of networks for effective dissemination of information.

The second working group based on the theme of Content & User Needs focused on the need to setup a global environmental data information system that can tackle major environmental challenges such as climate change. The discussions brought forth the realisation that everyone can be an actor in the global environmental information system.

The working group on Technical Infrastructure addressed a range of issues related to technical infrastructure. The group concluded with panellists agreeing to the fact that we need to continue to advance technologically. A special point that emerged out of the discussions was that location, time and semantics remain as core concepts for organising information.

The final working group on Capacity Building, Education & Awareness Building highlighted various opportunities in environmental education and also the need to promote environmental education for the overall benefit of the society.

Source: Our Correspondent