x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Eye on Earth Declaration destined for UN summit

Environmental advocates signed a declaration urging people to share information that will protect the earth.

ABU DHABI // A declaration formed in the capital stressing the importance of sharing environmental data and using it for decision-making is bound for a global summit in Brazil.

The Eye on Earth Summit Declaration was drafted and endorsed by environmental experts who convened for four days, ending yesterday, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).

The declaration, signed by the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (Ead) and the UN Environment Programme (Unep), will provide input to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next June.

Leading global, national and non-government organisations agreed to collaborate and share environmental information in a way that engages the public and political leaders.

The organisations also agreed to create initiatives in several areas, including water security, sustainable communities and biodiversity.

"The Eye on Earth community will now submit this Declaration for consideration by Rio+20, marking the moment that will drive forward the movement of ensuring access to the global pool of environmental and societal data by all those who need it around the world," said Razan Al Mubarak, the secretary general of Ead.

Several speakers during the conference highlighted the importance of sharing environmental data, including the former US president Bill Clinton; the oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle; and Dr Russell Mittermeier, the president of Conservation International.

Julia Marton-Lefevre, the director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said this approach was necessary if humanity was to overcome the great environmental challenges it faces.

"A lot of people who work on separate sets of data about Earth are now coming together saying they have something important to say," Ms Marton-Lefevre said.

She outlined climate change and the destruction of natural systems as the two most urgent environmental challenges facing humanity.

Due to large emissions of greenhouse gases, humanity is set to experience some climate change, Ms Marton-Lefevre said.

While negative effects would most probably not be avoided, it was important to limit the damage.

"It is going to happen for sure, we need to think about adapting to it," she said.

Destroying natural systems is another problem that will also affect humanity, Ms Marton-Lefevre said.

"We are losing the ability to feed ourselves, to produce clean water," she said.

"We need to make sure we do not destroy nature to a point when there is no turning back."