Special Initiatives

The following summarises the ‘Foundation’ Special Initiatives. This general category covers those facets that are seen as essential parts of an underlying information infrastructure framework that is needed to support effective environmental and societal information networking. The Special Initiatives outlined in this section address those parts of the Foundation conceptual framework that were chosen for special attention in, and for which there is sufficient direct and compelling support to move forward. Stakeholder commitment is currently being solicited from both the local and international audience to ensure delivery and implementation of these initiatives.

Eye on Global Network of Networks

Special Initiative: Eye on Global Network of Networks

There is significant interest in the Eye on Earth community to explore further alignment of various existing and planned local, national, regional and global networks. Information and communication technologies, as well as the social networking and crowd-sourcing capabilities that these facilitate, are recognised as key to support other environmental and socio-economic information and knowledge. The current challenge is that many of these networks which directly or indirectly address environmental issues are not connected. The aim of this Special Initiative is to link these networks to promote the availability of environmental information at a global to local level and support this by establishing strong institutional arrangements and synergies that currently exist or are planned. This includes programmes such as UNEP-Live, and the Eye on Earth application, which is under development as a collaborative effort between the European Environment Agency (EEA), Microsoft and ESRI.  There is also interest in strengthening collaboration and alignment with GEO/GEOSS, INSPIRE, EIONET, UNEP-Live, AGEDI, UNSDI, GGIM, GSDI, GBIF, GeoSur, Global Pulse and other such global intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder initiatives.


Eye on Environmental Education

Special Initiative: Eye on Environmental Education

Awareness and education precede responsible decisions, policy making and actions, by individuals, organisations, and nations.  There are numerous environmental education and awareness programs around the world addressing parts of this need at multiple levels, but there is no common knowledge management infrastructure of available materials, curricula, best practices, data networks, educators, and other resources. This Special Initiative aims to establish a networked commons of collaborating entities and resources, based on the alignment and strengthening of existing programs and networks. 


Eye on Access for All

Special Initiative: Access for All

There is considerable support in the Eye on Earth community for “the development of adequate institutional and legislative enabling conditions for furthering the implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration”, in particular the recognition that environmental issues are best handled with access to information, citizen engagement and access to remedies and relief.  Eye on Access for All complements the other Special Initiatives, in particular the Eye on Global Network of Networks, as it focuses on the creation of an enabling environment to facilitate the maximum usage of the available data and information.  It is this furthering of Principle 10 implementation is therefore fundamental to the success of Eye on Earth, and as such is specifically referenced in the Eye on Earth Summit Declaration.


Thematic Special Initiatives

The following sections outline Special Initiative topical areas that have been identified as priorities for the Eye on Earth Summit. Each is described in terms of its general area of emphasis, key stakeholders, and expected outcomes to be achieved in the next 3-5 years.

Eye on Community Sustainability & Resiliency

Special Initiative: Eye on Community Sustainability and Resiliency

With more that 50% of the world’s 7 billion population residing in urban areas, the Eye on Community Sustainability and Resiliency Special Initiative is both an important and timely topic. It is recognised that there are numerous challenges in making these cities attractive to both residents and investors, including the need for public transportation, accessibility to potable water and the availability of green space. The challenge of this Special Initiative is to utilise information and technology available to improve the planning, management and quality of life in these urban areas. The overarching goal of this initiative is therefore the establishment of an international forum to link current global urban sustainability and resilience initiatives to facilitate the sharing of information, concepts, challenges and solutions, including urban information infrastructure along both the North-South axis and also between cities of the South. A pilot project entitled Geospatial Sciences for Sustainable Development in Africa aims to test the effectiveness of this model.


Eye on Oceans & Blue Carbon

Special Initiative: Eye on Oceans and Blue Carbon

‘Blue Carbon’ is a strategic approach to capatilise on the globally significant carbon storage and sequestration potential of coastal ecosystems (namely, mangroves, saltmarshes and sea grasses) and encourage a more effective and sustainable management of these ecosystems and their services. The aim of the Oceans and Blue Carbon Special Initiative is to transform the quality and accessibility of coastal ecosystem data and build local capacity to develop and subsequently utilise and interpret this to facilitate climate-smart planning for enhances climate change mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity conservation in the marine environment. Ultimately this Special Initiative aims to support enhanced fulfillment of national and informational commitments to reduce climate impacts and safeguard biodiversity and human well-being.  In the short and medium term this Special Initiative will:


Eye on Disaster Management

Special Initiative: Eye on Disaster Management

The frequency and intensity of natural disasters in recent years have increased significantly, as has the loss of life and property from these events.  As such there is a heightened awareness of the need to better anticipate threats and risks, plan more disaster resistant communities and infrastructure, respond more quickly to events, and help communities and ecosystems to recover more effectively.


Eye on Water Security

Special Initiative: Eye on Water Security

Water resources and security, including the protection of vulnerable water systems and protection against hazards such as floods and droughts, are a key foundation for sustainability. The trans-boundary nature of water resources and its inter-linkages with domains such as ecosystem management, agricultural and industrial policy and public well-being represent key challenges to the management of water security. As such the monitoring of the quantity and quality of water resources, their distribution, trends and conditions is of worldwide concern to a broad range of stakeholders across environmental, civil, agricultural and other sectors. The aim of the Eye on Water Quality Special Initiative is to realise the potential of collaboration of data sharing and ultimately implement this to assist decision makers align supply with demand.


Eye on Biodiversity

Special Initiative: Eye on Biodiversity

This Special Initiative focuses on the incentives required to motivate people to share biodiversity data and information. It is recognised that there is a substantial amount of information and data which could help address current biodiversity and ecosystem challenges, however there is much collected which is not shared, and much shared which is not connected and visible. The cost of sharing is also acknowledged and the challenge remains to provide an infrastructure where the benefits from sharing are simple, immediate and self-evident.