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Summit focuses on sharing eco data.

Summary: ABU DHABI - Water scarcity, food security and climate change are issues of policy that require urgent action and solutions, which are only possible if correct information exists and is being shared.

ABU DHABI - Water scarcity, food security and climate change are issues of policy that require urgent action and solutions, which are only possible if correct information exists and is being shared.

This is what Eye on Earth (EoE) Summit, which began here on Monday, aims to achieve: getting decision makers from all over the globe to recognise the vital need for collecting and sharing environmental data and information, as well as deciding the means and methodology of doing that.

Being organised till December 15 by the Environment Agency -- Abu Dhabi (EAD), together with the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the summit's final goal is an EoE declaration, which will be submitted for consideration to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20) to be held in 2012.

If approved, the declaration will bind political leaders to endorse environmental data collection and sharing, which will make environmental policy smoother.

"For the UAE, the journey to this critical point began the moment the AGEDI was launched in 2002," said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary-general of EAD.

The initiative was basically established to address the impact of missing or weak environmental data on emerging economies' efforts to achieve sustainable development. "Over the last decade, the AGEDI has worked together with its partners like the UNEP and the EAD to help the UAE and the wider region to harness its environmental and societal data and information for sound decision making, management and planning," added Mubarak.

The Oryx population, for example, which was extinct in the wild, has been "saved" through environmental programmes in the country, and was recently re-introduced in the Arabian desert. This was possible partially because Abu Dhabi had the necessary data about the Oryx.

"Data collection, sharing and updating are necessary to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries," said Dr Mohammed Al Madfaei, deputy manager of Environmental Strategy and Policy Coordination at the EAD.

"It all benefits emerging markets for greening the economy," he told Khaleej Times.

The need for robust data infrastructure is often ignored in the design of development programmes. Developers and financiers worldwide are not used to planning their projects to ensure that the data they collect, through environmental impact assessment, for example, is easily made available to others.

silvia@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Dec 12, 2011
Words:433
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