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Monday, 25 June 2012

EAD kicked off Two of its Ten Eye on Earth Side Events at Rio+20

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) under the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), kicked off two of its ten Eye on Earth side events at the Rio+20 Athlete's Park exhibition focusing on the outcomes of Eye on Earth Summit held in Abu Dhabi in December 2011. 

The eight Eye on Earth Special Initiatives address critical environmental issue areas while the Eye on Earth Summit Declaration reflects the principles needing to be adopted in order to achieve ‘access to environmental and societal data and information by all those who need it' essential to addressing sustainable development.

On the first day of the Rio+20 Athlete's Park exhibition, Cathrine Armour, Programme Manager, AGEDI urged guests to join together, as an Eye on Earth Community and share their knowledge; to support global leaders, policy and decision-makers in making better, wiser decisions with practical measures for implementation. "As we achieve wisdom we learn that there is still much more to be learnt. The same is true of the challenges we face today. We are continuing to learn. With though, the data we have, through the development of shared knowledge and understanding we can gain the wisdom we need to make the right decisions for ‘The Future We Want" Cathrine encouraged during her welcoming speech.

Peter Gilruth, Director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment, UNEP; Partner to the Eye on Earth Summit and long term partner of AGEDI and EAD in promoting environmentally friendly sustainable development in the West Asia region spoke sincerely of the their continued role alongside AGEDI. He emphasised that collaboration is an imperative for keeping the environment under review. The momentum that last December's Eye on Earth Summit, held in Abu Dhabi has created through the Eye on Earth Special Initiatives is a leading example. Peter explained how the Summit had brought together unique partnerships across disciplines that would otherwise rarely connect. This Eye on Earth Community has generated new energy which in turn creates the synergy required for the challenges we face. Peter concluded by reaffirming UNEP's commitment to implementing the Special Initiatives in partnership with EAD and AGEDI.

Other key speakers included Chief Almir Surui, environmentalist, political activist and tribal chief who has been fighting to save both his Surui tribe and the Amazon rainforest for more than 15 years. Speaking of the progress made, towards this very real challenge, in such a short period of time, and presenting data that both reflects it and points to the need for action he ended hopeful for the future that that the Surui tribe now have to look forward to.

It is through the determined and strategic sustainable approaches that have been implemented that enable the Surui tribe to have a positive outlook for their community.It was community and commitment that Dr Fabio Scarano, Senior Vice President, Conservation International, reminded all of us about. Reaffirming his commitment to Eye on Earth and congratulating Eye on Earth on a creating a community that tackles the critical issues that can be addressed through access to environmental and societal data and information. Lastly, Lalanath Da Silva, Director of the Access Initiative (TAI), World Resources Institute highlighted the successes of TAI and their focus on environment, democracy and human rights to promote access to information globally. He reiterated the success that Eye on Earth Summit 2011 achieved by convening governments and the scientific and technology community at the one forum - strengthening the access to information in cooperation with the scientific and technology community.

On the second day of the Rio+20 Athlete's Park exhibition, Eye on Earth showcased the Eye on Environmental Education Special Initiative at the UNEP Pavilion. The speakers for this event come from far and wide to reinforce the importance of education on the future of our environment. Vicky Colbert, founder and director of Fundación Escuela Nueva and co-author of the Escuela Nueva educational model, spoke about children and youth being key to our future. Professor Joseph Alcamo, Chief Scientist, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), spoke passionately about the urgency of Africa to have better educational foundations for the future of sustainability in the region. The UNEP project aims to build sustainable science dedicated institutes, both new and existing to encourage home-grown experts.

Locally, Dr Ashraf, Senior Specialist Research Division from Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) spoke about how technology will allow the environmental issues to be integrated into Abu Dhabi's education curriculum.

Demonstrating action Dr Ashraf showcased to the Rio +20 audience the recently launched Environmental Atlas of Abu Dhabi Emirate - Interactive Atlas, an online environmental resource - a key resource supporting environmental education in the curriculum. Simran Vedvyas, the Eye on Earth Youth Ambassador spoke of the need for change, but to do this "youth needs to be the change." Polar explorer and environmental leader Rob Swan closed the morning's event with a rousing presentation on his missions of engaging and inspiring young people to use renewable energy on our " good ol' " planet earth". The Special Initiatives side events continue on the Eye on Earth Stage at UNEP Pavilion each day until the 22nd June. 

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