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Eye on Earth Summit Calls for Practical Actions to Support Informed Decision-Making and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

Tuesday, 27 October 2015
The 2nd Eye on Earth Summit* was held from 6 - 8 October 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The event brought together over 760 participants included representatives of governments, scientific and research centres, universities, non-governmental organizations, technology companies, international organizations, UN major groups and stakeholder and UN agencies, funds and programmes. The Summit focused on a wide range of issues underpinning its core theme: informed decision-making for sustainable development in recognition of the importance of the outcome of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development and the subsequent process of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The delegates of the Summit committed to developing and implementing a number of mechanisms, recommendations and practical actions on the issue of data supply, data demand and enabling activities considered essential to support informed decision-making and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Agenda. These include addressing the data needs of specific geographic regions, manners to harness big data for sustainable development, building capacity for the best available usage of data in times of reporting or monitoring on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensuring that countries have the technological infrastructures and skills in place to incorporate such data into their decision-making processes.

The Eye on Earth Alliance**, which aims to motivate and support participatory, inclusive and transparent decision making processes , decided, in the context of the Summit, to establish a global coalition of Citizen Science Groups. This group will ensure the continued public participation in informed decisions-making for sustainable development through the provision of reliable and integrated data.  The participants of the Summit also recognized the important role played by sharing knowledge and participatory governance in the effective implementation of the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Following a fruitful discussion on this issue, they arrived at the following concluding remarks: a. Country reporting against the SDGs requires diverse data that is timely, relevant and reliable; b. The disparate nature of the data provider landscape will require close collaboration and engagement of a wide array of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, including the private sector, to support the SDG reporting process; c. Capacity building and technology support must be intensified with strong donor support in order to assist developing countries in meeting their reporting obligations; d. The Eye on Earth Network has a key role to play in facilitating institutional networking and collaboration for tracking progress towards achieving the SDGs.

The Summit also identified a set of action-oriented priority areas to be addressed under the evolving Eye on Earth Network and programme of work. These priority areas included, data needs of policy-makers; capacity building for reporting against the SDGs; harnessing the Data Revolution; the role of technology support; mechanisms for inter-regional networking and knowledge sharing; the data needs of the Arab Region; data issues of Small Island Developing States (SIDS); data issues relevant to polar and cold regions; building knowledge for healthy lives; and an action plan to implement Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration taking due account of different global standards for the promotion of environmental democracy.

Participants also called for the establishment of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) on priority issues related to data delivery, data access and knowledge sharing.  Narrow in scope, these SIGs, which aim to support the implementation of the 2030 sustainable development agenda, will bring together expert communities with a view to identifying and proposing tangible solutions to specific data issues. More than 30 proposals were received during the Summit, covering multiple issues from both a thematic and geographic perspective, where capacities and networking need to be enhanced.

The Eye on Earth Alliance partners also agreed to formalize a governance framework and institutional arrangements by the end of 2015. The five existing members – AGEDI, GEO, IUCN, UNEP and WRI – announced plans to enlarge the Alliance strategically to support regional and thematic interests. By the close of the Summit, six expressions of interest were received from major organizations around the world to join the Alliance.

* Eye on Earth is the convergence of a series of initiatives by several organisations over the past few years that collectively address the global challenge of increasing access to information to support sustainable development. For further information, See:
**The Summit was convened by an Alliance of five organizations – the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Source: IISD Reporting Services
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