An Eye on Earth: Global Summit October 2015

A common agenda for the collective good

Image courtesy of AGEDI/UNEP

Back in 2011 when I was an Executive Director of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), I wrote this blog post relating to my involvement in the initial Eye on Earth Summit:

Today, I am a Director at a British SME called what3words, which has created a new way to address the world; I'm also still on the OGC Global Advisory Council and a supporter of open location standards.

So fast-forward 4 years and the Eye on Earth Summit is happening again in Abu Dhabi this October under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

I thought it would be useful to reflect on some of the changes that have happened in the interim period around Eye on Earth and share them with a broader international community.

There were a number of outcomes from the 2011 Summit, which were principally around the Eye on Earth (EoE) Declaration which has been endorsed by 48 countries (32 European Union member countries and 16 countries outside the EU). The guiding principles represent a detailed framework for the deliverables coming out of the EoE 2011 Summit with the notable inclusion of 8 Special Initiatives as the backbone of the strategy to deliver on the EoE mission.

The EoE Alliance is an effort of the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD — through the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative or AGEDI) and others working together. The EoE Alliance essentially comprises organisations that aim to build and mobilise global support to advance the overall EoE mission (see the declaration above). It started with EAD and the United Nations Environment Programme or UNEP collaborating. Today it also includes the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

The Special Initiatives are really what bring together the communities and represent a variety of disciplines, including Geographic Information Science, Spatial Data Infrastructure, Conservation and Sustainable Development. These cross-cutting and collaborative initiatives focus on equal access, environmental education, linking knowledge networks, biodiversity, community sustainability and resilience, disaster management, oceans and blue carbon, and water security. Just some of the key global issues that governments, industry and NGOs are tackling on a daily basis, but with a long-term view to resolving somehow.

Although EoE was started in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Special Initiatives operate all over the world and the community includes approximately 500 members from more than 120 organisations. There are currently more than 80 new projects in development that require funding to mobilise.

As many have said before me, it’s all about the data. Over the next five years, the work of the Special Initiatives will focus on expanding the availability and quality of environmental, social and economic data and ensuring the inclusion of this vital information in global discourse, policy and action on sustainable development. Each of the Special Initiatives has a defined a set of goals and objectives. Progress against these is continually being monitored and will be presented at the 2015 EoE Summit,

I would like to say kudos to all the people who have kept this activity going since 2011 and I look forward with catching up with a number of people in Abu Dhabi in October!

If you are interested to learn more, I would encourage you to participate in any of the scheduled Special Initiative meetings or find out how you can support the initiative please visit or email to express your interest.