Eye on Earth Summit Summary

If I were presented with an opportunity to choose my top 3 events with geospatial significance, the Eye on Earth Summit and Exhibition Abu Dhabi would be on the list. In terms of prominent speakers, useful content, business networking, amazing choreography and inspiration, this event had it all.

Last month OGC staff (David Arctur and I) and OGC members and alliance partners were in Abu Dhabi  - 1Spatial, Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Center (ADSIC), Abu Dhabi Police (ADP), CSIRO, DigitalGlobe, Esri, Eurogi, European Environment Agency (EEA), GeoEye, Geospatial Media and Communications, Group on Earth Observations (GEO), Google, GPC, GSDI Association, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Microsoft, Trimble, United Nations, University College London (UCL), US Environment Protection Agency (US EPA), US Geological Survey (USGS), US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Woods Hole Institution and the World Bank, as well as others I have possibly not recognized.

The OGC was founded to tackle interoperability and the goals of the Eye on Earth Summit and Exhibition are closely aligned with this vision, with the specific goal of delivering input from special initiatives and a declaration to Rio+20. A key Summit goal was to reach consensus on the key data and information issues that Rio +20 needs to focus on. These will be presented to Rio + 20 by Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), on behalf of the Eye on Earth Community in the Eye on Earth Declaration.

Just as awareness regarding access to government data is growing, access to environmental knowledge is also becoming recognized as critical. From the Eye on Earth website: “Wise decision-making depends on an ever-growing pool of often-unavailable data. It may be absent, inaccessible or simply hidden. Emerging Economies are at risk of losing valuable environmental assets as a result of inaccurate decision-making caused by the lack of useable, quality data. The solution is an achievable one. Much of the world's growing wealth of data is held in incompatible standards, ‘protected’ by bureaucratic complexity, restrained by lack of open access or ignorance of its existence. The need for collaboration, information and understanding is greater than ever. Water scarcity, food security and climate change are policy issues that require solutions that extend beyond political boundaries.”

The practical and pragmatic next steps around the Eye on Earth Summit and Exhibition follow up activities are related to special initiatives focused on solving specific issues related to access to, and use of, environmental data and information. These initiatives are being developed through a multi-stakeholder working group process. If there was one area I was to criticise around the whole process it would be the cross-working group communication. It was not clear where the overlap lies between the various foundational initiatives and the working groups. However, instead of being a detractor who makes a negative comment and then offers no alternative, I have offered to lead a community outreach group to explain better the role of the Global Network of Networks special initiative. Rob Atkinson from CSIRO and David Arctur from the OGC will also both be working on the Eye on Water Security special initiative, and there should be an opportunity for OGC members and staff to contribute to the Eye on Disaster Management special initiative

The Eye on Earth Summit was organized under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. Her Excellency, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) did a fabulous job leading the Summit and explaining Abu Dhabi’s aspirations in this area.  Cathrine Armour, Programme Manager AGEDI made the event work with input from a large number of people, notably Larissa Beverley Owen and Marije Heurter also from AGEDI. Aditya Agrawal, Emma Corbett, John Bennett, and Mark Sorensen from GPC GIS in Abu Dhabi. Others from Esri, Microsoft and the EEA provided significant contributions to make it work from outside of the Emirates.  Although facilitated by AGEDI and hosted by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), this was done in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Special mention goes to Adel Abdel-Kader, Gerry Cunningham, Mick Wilson, Peter Gilruth and Monika MacDevette from UNEP for the considerable efforts they made prior and during the Summit.

Finally, this interview by OGC Board Director, Professor Jacqueline McGlade is probably one of the most useful articles to gain an understanding of the Eye on Earth importance.

[It would also be a missed opportunity to not mention a great number of the people tweeting from the event, hopefully this provides fellow tweeters with some inspiration and new people to follow: Aliance Middle East @AlianceME, Ali Alsaloom @AskAli, Amy @amyswrite, anamika Mehta @anamika13, Aparecido H. Leite @Geoteq, Arnoud van Gemeren @ArnoudvGemeren, Art Haddad @ajhaddad, Bert Jansen @Bert_Jansen_59, BOLDtalks @BOLDtalks, carmelle terborgh @geotellus, Craig Mills @craigmmills, Critigen @Critigen, Dave LaShell @davelashell, Dawn Wright @deepseadawn, EcoGirl_AD @EcoGirl_AD, Ed Parsons @edparsons, Esri @Esri, eyeonearth.org @EYEonEARTHorg, Eye on Earth Summit @eyeonearth2011, FCF @fishconserve, GreenUp! @UNEPGreenUp, Greg Fiske @g_fiske, JaneGoodallInstitute @JaneGoodallInst, Javier de la Torre @jatorre, Jeff Harrison @JeffHarrison, Jennifer Knoll @JenniferKnoll, John Steffenson @jsteffenson, JP de Vooght @jdevoo, Juliana Rotich @afromusing, Kate Chapman @wonderchook, KewGIS @KewGIS, Liam Cavanagh @liamca, L. Yousef Al Hassan @LailaYAlHassan, Masdar Institute @MasdarInst, Matthias Schmale @matzschmale,  medina works @medinaworks, michael david GOULD @michael_d_gould, Michael Sanderson @yutrees, Muki Haklay @mhaklay, Norman Morrison @morrisonnorman, One World One Ocean @1World1Ocean, Patrick Worms @pworms, PenBay @penbaysolutions, Roman Thaler @thalerr, scicheer @scicheer, Sebastien Petit Gazy @Gazymodo, SciDev.Net @SciDevNet, SpatialLaw&Policy @kpomfret, Spatineo @spatineo, SustainabilityExpert @paolafiore,  Sylvia A. Earle @SylviaEarle, TheAccessInitiative @TAIGlobal, UNEP/GRID-Arendal @UNEPGRID, UNFCCC_COP_NEWS @unfccc_cop, Ushahidi @ushahidi, Vizzuality @Vizzuality, WoodsHoleResearchCtr @WoodsHoleResCtr, World Resources Inst @worldresources, Yojana Sharma @yojanasharma]