21 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Access to environmental knowledge is critical. Wise decision-making depends on an ever-growing pool of often unavailable data and information. At the Rio+20 side-event on the Eye on Earth Special Initiative ‘Access for All’ (A4A) panelists and participants discussed challenges and opportunities for improving public access to timely and accurate data and information. The event was organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with A4A partners, including UNITAR.
In her welcome remarks, Ms. Cathrine Armour, Eye on Earth Programme Manager, Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) explained that A4A was one of eight Special Initiatives that were launched at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi December last year. The moderator, Mr. Achim Halpaap, Associate Director and Head of Environment Unit, UNITAR, introduced the session by pointing out that access to information was not only a technical issue. He highlighted: “The challenge is to make information meaningful for decision-making.” The event brought together a set of experts in the area of participatory environmental governance, including:
- Mr. Lalanath De Silva, Director of The Access Initiative (TAI), World Resources Institute (WRI)
- Mr. Alexander Juras, Chief, Major Group and Stakeholder Branch, UNEP
- Mr. Jeremy Wates, Secretary General - European Environment Bureau (EEB)
- Mr. Ritwick Dutta, Environmental Lawyer and Coordinator of the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), New Delhi and TAI India
- Ms. Sara Swenson, UN Major Groups Youth Representative
- Ms. Andrea Sanhueza, Executive Director, Participa and TAI
About the Eye on Earth Special Initiative Access for All
In December 2011, Abu Dhabi hosted, in partnership with UNEP, the inaugural Eye on Earth Summit. It convened global leaders, innovators and decision-makers, with the purpose to strengthen existing efforts and inspire new solutions to the critical issue of access to environmental data and information by all those who need it. At the Summit the Eye on Earth Community committed to “support the development of adequate institutional and legislative enabling conditions for furthering the implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration”. The Summit resulted in the Eye on Earth Summit Declaration and eight Special Initiatives, including Eye on Access for All. UNITAR is an active partner in the A4A Initiative which aims at enhancing access to environmental and societal data and information for decision-making.