Eye on Earth First User Conference: A real eye opener
Jacqueline McGlade and Phil Hogan Image © Conor McCabe Photography
By supporting partnerships across the diverse communities of knowledge, we can develop a global understanding of the Earth.
Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director
Over three days (4-6 March), the conference brought together more than 230 participants representing communities in 77 countries. They exchanged views and ideas on how to expand the Eye on Earth community to support sharing of environmental, societal and economic data and information from a wide diversity of knowledge communities.
The Global Network of Networks was also launched at the conference and aims to align existing and planned local, national and global networks including Eionet (European Environment Information and Observation Network), Sustained Arctic Observing Network 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.
Plenary speakers included Phil Hogan, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government for Ireland, Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, H.E. Razan Khalifa al Mubarak, Secretary General of the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency, Monika MacDevette, Chief of Capacity Development Branch at the United Nations Environment Programme, Barbara Ryan, Secretariat Director of the Group on Earth Observations, Alan Edwards from the European Commission, Volker Liebig, Director of Earth Observation at the European Space Agency, Harvey Simon from the US Environment Protection Agency, Costis Toregas from the George Washington University, Eric van Praag from GeoSUR, Frank McCosker, Managing Director of Global Strategic Accounts at Microsoft and Dean Agelides, Corporate Director of Esri.
The aim of the conference was to bring together the Eye on Earth partners and communities to create a widespread understanding among data providers and users about the concept of data and information sharing through the Eye on Earth Network. You can read more about the conference on the Eye on Earth website and in the blog.
Phil Hogan said: “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.”
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, said: “The Eye on Earth Alliance is addressing the issue of improving data access in the global arena through the Eye on Earth Summit hosted in Abu Dhabi in December 2011 and more recently, at the UNCSD Rio+20 Summit in Brazil in June 2012, where UNEP and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi presented in unison to the global challenge of tackling the sustainable development issues at hand. The Dublin Statement is an important step in expanding and strengthening the Alliance so that a wider array of partners share a common vision and goals in facilitating access to information for sustainable development.”
Jacqueline McGlade 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.