Eye on Earth Summit Comes During a Turning Point for Sustainable Development

EarthzineGEO/GEOSS News, Quick Looks, Sections

Supporting sustainable development requires access to environmental, societal and economic data.


A Landsat image mosaic. Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey/Eye on Earth Summit 2015

An Eye on Earth (EoE) initiative aims to foster an atmosphere for information sharing. The collaborative effort will kick into high gear at a second Eye on Earth Summit 2015, being held Oct. 6-8 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The event aims to ‰ÛÏpromote dialogue and drive international action that revolutionises the way we collect, access, share and use data and information for real-world change,‰Û according to organizers.

The last summit, held in Abu Dhabi in 2011, led to the development of an EoE Declaration and 14 guiding principles. The declaration was endorsed by 16 countries and 32 European Environment Agency member countries.

The EoE community is made up of members from government agencies, UN organizations, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, academia and the public. At the Summit, almost 30 sessions are to be delivered by more than 100 speakers who will explore the role that supply and demand dynamics, enabling conditions, and data and information play in creating a healthier planet.

Keynote speakers are:

  • H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary-general of the Environment Agency ‰ÛÒ Abu Dhabi (EAD), the city’s environmental regulatory authority
  • Barbara J. Ryan, secretariat director for the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)
  • Inger Andersen, director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme and UN under-secretary-general
  • Janet Ranganathan, vice president of science and research for the World Resources Institute.


One of the goals of the 2015 Summit, organizers say, is to showcase progress made since the 2011 Summit, particularly with eight Special Initiatives (SIs) adopted that year.

The 2015 Summit will examine three Foundational SIs: Access for All, Environmental Education, and the Global Network of Networks, along with five Thematic SIs: Biodiversity, Community Sustainability and Resiliency, Disaster Management, Water Security, and Oceans and Blue Carbon.

For example, the Oceans and Blue Carbon Special Initiative focuses on collecting data on oceans and coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes and sea grasses. The initiative seeks to make that data useful for managing climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. Those involved include organizations represented by the keynote speakers.

The year 2015 will mark a turning point for sustainable development, with Sustainable Development Goals from the UN and a global climate change agreement likely to be enacted, according to keynote speaker H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak.

‰ÛÏThe events of 2015 make the work of Eye on Earth more important than ever as we come together ‰ÛÒ governments, the private sector, academia and civil society ‰ÛÒ to improve information availability and quality to safeguard the future of the planet and humanity,‰Û Al Mubarak said in a statement.

‰ÛÏAt Summit 2015 we hope to agree the roadmap that will get us there.‰Û

Eye on Earth 2015 is an invitation-only event, and about 650 people are expected to attend.

They will hear about the role that governments, technology, the scientific community and citizen participation play in enhancing access to quality data about the state of the world’s resources.

‰ÛÏThe Eye on Earth network is just getting started, but it could substantially alter the course of sustainable development for generations to come,‰Û added keynote speaker Achim Steiner.

‰ÛÏIts potential impact has been likened to the equivalent of the Human Genome Revolution. That’s how important and valuable environmental-related data could become. The cooperation between stakeholders in government, academic, civil society and the private sector remains the most important element in Eye on Earth’s success.‰Û

For more information, see the EOESummit.org.

Below, see a video by Jason Silva, media artist and Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s ‰ÛÏBrain Games‰Û TV series, and filmmaker and director Leonardo Dalessandri on how new technologies and the wealth of data and information they provide can create positive change in the world.