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Eye on Earth Symposium
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Eye on Earth Symposium

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The Eye on Earth Symposium, supported by the UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA) and the Eye on Earth Alliance, is hosting leading data experts, innovators and decision-makers to convene, converge and collaborate around solving information-related obstacles to sustainable development. The Symposium aims to catalyse and strengthen bilateral and multi-lateral partnerships to bring those facing systemic environment-related data challenges into contact with those with impactful, transformative solutions.

The three-day event, which runs from 22-24 October 2018, was inaugurated in Dubai this morning by H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), sponsor of the Eye on Earth Symposium and co-founder of Eye on Earth, in the presence of: HE Reem Al Hashimi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, Chairwoman of the FCSA and Chairwoman of the National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals; HE Abdulla Nasser Lootah, Director-General of the FCSA; and HE Dr. Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency. The Secretary General’s opening address was followed by remarks from senior representatives of the Eye on Earth Alliance: United Nations Environment (UN Environment), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Resources Institute (WRI), Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

Stressing the importance of international collaboration across all levels and sectors of society to address the core issues facing data in sustainable development, HE Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, sponsor of the Eye on Earth Symposium and co-founder of Eye on Earth, commented: “Ultimately, the decisions made to achieve sustainable development will affect every one of us, as well as future generations. By sharing insights into the information challenges we face, and the enabling solutions we are working on, we can play our part in ensuring that decisions that shape our future are made with the best and most complete information possible.” 

Established in 2011 by EAD through the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) in partnership with UN Environment, the Eye on Earth movement has more than 5,000 members that contribute from across academia, NGOs, the private sector and government organisations. Eye on Earth is a collaborative effort between a global network of individual experts with the support of an Alliance of leading global institutions involved in environmental and natural resource information.

The Eye on Earth Symposium is co-themed, co-located and concurrent with the 2nd United Nations World Data Forum organised independently in Dubai this year. The Symposium programme features 35 interactive sessions and 86 speakers that will explore various data topics that tackle information-related issues surrounding the world’s most critical environmental and development challenges. Steered by this unique environmental focus, the Symposium will facilitate knowledge exchange, synergy‐based collaboration and project delivery partnerships.

“Getting data right is one of the ways to solve the most pressing environmental challenges of our time,” said Alexandre Caldas, Chief of Country Outreach, Technology and Innovation Branch in the Science Division at UN Environment. “True to the theme of convening, converging and collaborating, UN Environment continues to be a proud founding partner of the Eye on Earth Alliance as this is a sure way of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We are for sure committed with the initiatives on Big Data on the Environment for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action.” 

The Eye on Earth Symposium will also convene a session focused on data challenges and opportunities in the implementation of the SDGs in the Arab world. Priority issues and impediments at both country and regional levels will be identified in collaboration, so that actionable plans can be developed to help overcome issues such as data availability and accessibility that directly inform decision-making. Other geographies, sectors and disciplines will be similarly addressed across each outcome orientated discussion.

Steven Ramage, Head of External Relations of the Group on Earth Observations Secretariat, noted that readily-accessible satellite data and technology are necessary to address our most compelling challenges, from climate change, food security, disaster risk reduction and many other areas. Timely, actionable information is also fundamental to addressing these challenges, explained Francis Gassert, Data for Impact Lead at the WRI, according to whom Eye on Earth provides an essential venue for leaders and practitioners around the world to share knowledge and drive action. 

“A major advance in the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals was the incorporation of environmental sustainability at the same level as social and economic issues. However, many National Statistical Offices do not yet have the capacity to measure progress in conserving nature. In this light, IUCN is delighted to serve as an Eye on Earth Alliance member, supporting governments and society in mobilising environmental data to track progress towards sustainability,” said Thomas Brooks, IUCN’s Chief Scientist.

All sessions from the 2018 Eye on Earth Symposium will be streamed live online, which will allow remote audiences to see, hear and speak at the event by entering a nine digit webcast number available on the Eye on Earth website. The Symposium is taking place at the Mina A’Salam Hotel in Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai and will feature a mixture of presentations, panel discussions, and in-depth, interactive, multi-hour workshops over the next three days.











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