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Efforts to Improve Access to Environmental Data in Focus at Dublin Conference

The need to support and improve access to data and on the environment and sustainable development has been underlined at the conclusion of a major conference in Dublin, Ireland. Over 70 countries were represented at the event, which was organized by the European Environment Agency (EEA) in association with the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Over three days, participants exchanged views and ideas on how to improve the availability of environmental, societal and economic data and information from a wide diversity of knowledge communities. Eye on Earth is a global public information network, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners, for creating and sharing environmentally relevant information online including interactive maps, applications, and other data based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The Global Network of Networks - an initiative endorsed at the 2011 Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi - was also launched at the Dublin conference. The initiative aims to align existing and planned local, national and global networks including the European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet), the Sustained Arctic Observing Network, the Arab Region Environmental Information Network, the GeoSur initiative in Latin America and AfricaEIN.

The conference outcome was captured in the Dublin Statement. It covers a series of special initiatives on oceans, water, biodiversity, cities and disasters as well as technical development of the platform, citizen science as an important source of knowledge, building capacities across the network and empowerment of Eye on Earth communities.

Following in the wake of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, the Dublin conference marked an important milestone to address a wide range of issues related data and information for sustainable development articulated in the Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want. Institutions working at the national, regional and global level converged in Dublin and agreed to collaborate through the Eye on Earth Network to promote, support and improve access to data and information for sustainable development. The formation of the Eye on Earth Alliance will drive the Eye on Earth Network forward globally.

Welcoming the Eye on Earth Alliance, H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) said: "The challenges in meeting the objectives of sustainable development and the move towards the "Future We Want" are enormous and need to be tackled quickly. The need for quality societal, environmental and economic data has been there for a very long time and is therefore not new but the gap in the data availability between developed and developing countries is widening rather than shrinking".

"Only a community of users, providers, governments, non-governments and private actors can rise to this challenge, and we feel that the Eye on Earth community is a way forward," she added.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, said: "The Eye on Earth Alliance is addressing the issue of improving data access in the global arena across a range of sustainable development challenges and opportunities. The Dublin Statement marks an important step in expanding and strengthening the Alliance so that an ever widening array of partners share a common vision and goals. It builds on the Eye on Earth Summit hosted in Abu Dhabi in December 2011 and the outcomes of the Rio+20 Summit of June 2012 which recognized the importance and value of this work as a building block to the Future We Want".

EAD and UNEP are united with common interests for clearer decision making for sustainable development through better access to timely and credible environmental data and information by all those who need it.

Ireland's Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, stressed that "good environmental data is an essential starting point in meeting environmental challenges and in developing an enhanced understanding of how our environment affects us and how our actions impact on our surroundings. Harnessing the collective energy of the Eye on Earth community has the potential to promote sustainable development in many areas."

Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of EEA, expanded on the sharing theme with a vision of citizens communicating with government through their daily lives. "The conference was a real eye opener for all of us and showed just how Eye on Earth can play a major role in delivering this ambitious vision. By supporting partnerships across the diverse communities of knowledge, we can develop a global understanding of the Earth," she said.

About Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD)

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) was established in 1996 to preserve Abu Dhabi's natural heritage, protect our future, and raise awareness about environmental issues. EAD is Abu Dhabi's environmental regulator and advises the government on environmental policy. It works to create sustainable communities, and protect and conserve wildlife and natural resources. EAD also works to ensure integrated and sustainable water resources management, to ensure clean air and minimise climate change and its impacts. For more information, visit www.ead.ae

About the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP is the designated authority of the United Nations system in environmental issues at the global and regional level. UNEP's mission is 'to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations'. UNEP is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, visit www.unep.org

Source: Envirocentre.ie - Efforts to Improve Access to Environmental Data in Focus at Dublin Conference