The Eye on Earth Summit (Eye on Earth 2011) convened under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 12-15 December 2011 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Summit brought together over 1,000 participants, representing governments, international organizations, academia, the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Held under the theme “Convene, Converge, Collaborate,” discussions during Eye on Earth 2011 centered on strengthening existing efforts and inspiring a search for unified, global solutions to the issues that preclude access to data.
Eye on Earth 2011 featured plenary sessions featuring keynote speeches and panel sessions on varying issues, including water security, financing, disaster management, and oceans and blue carbon. The Summit also featured open sessions, during which four working groups on “Policy, Governance and Institutional Networking,” “Content and User Needs,” “Technical Infrastructure,” and “Capacity Building, Education and Awareness,” took place to finalize the Special Initiatives that were launched at the end of the event. Former US President Bill Clinton, Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of Rio+20, Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, presenting on the EOE mission, Jane Goodall, Jack Dangermond, Henry Puna – Prime Minister Cook Island, were amongst the many speakers listed.
THE DECLARATION WAS SIGNED AT THE EYE ON EARTH SUMMIT
Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)presented the EOE Summit Declaration, which was signed by herself, H E Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad and Peter Gilruth, UNEP.
As a youth delegate from the UAE, Simran presented on stage her notes that the discussions held over the course of Summit had been “eye-opening.” She said that participants should ask themselves “WHAT IS THE ONE THING I CAN DO TODAY THAT WILL BENEFIT THE ENVIRONMENT ?” Stating that whatever the answer is, the time to act is now, and that there is an urgent need to deliver on the promises made. We need to deliver the vision. An inspiring Video presentation also moved the huge audience that was present.
BY SIMRAN VEDVYAS
Simran Vedvyas is a Student member with the EMIRATES ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP- UAE for the last 5 years, who has also willingly participated in the Earth Hour Events –Clean Up drives, Toners, plastic, Can Collection and tree planting initiatives for a safer Environment. She not only participates but also advocates for the same through various platforms like painting and photography, through internet, debates and blogs, but also by conducting workshops for students to raise environmental awareness. Simran participated in the Earth Charter and Youth Action for Change Online short course entitled, “Youth Leadership Sustainability and Ethics” and was recently appointed as the Earth Charter Youth Group (ECYG) Country Activator for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a voluntary basis and therefore promoted the importance of utilizing the Earth Charter as a valuable framework towards building a more sustainable and peaceful world. Simran proudly represented the youth from around the world whose population is 1.1 billion which constitutes 18% of the total world population.
Simran participated in the Hypothetical debate conducted by Geoffrey Robertson QC. Geoffrey Robertson QC moderated a “hypothetical” debate involving 14 leading EOE participants, among them H E Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), Sylvia Earle, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Jacqueline McGlade, Henry Puna, and John Scanlon. Robertson guided the participants through a creative role-play, where each represented a different kind of societal actor in a fictitious small island nation struggling to balance the complex and often unpredictable tradeoffs inherent in conservation and development. The role-play interwove dilemmas over threatened species and cures for cancer, scientific uncertainty and demands for action, spiritual values and mining profits, national sovereignty and a global pandemic. The cast of characters juggled the various government, civic, business, media and scientific perspectives in play, finding opportunities to forge unexpected alliances always amid insufficient information. Robertson summarized the role-play with reference to the tragedy of the commons, whereby the various dilemmas faced by this fictitious island stood for other pressing problems like climate change, illustrating the need for better information and the possibility of acting together for the common good. Simran represented the commons in this hypothetical and was extremely confident and formed the backbone of this 90 minutes unscripted, unrehearsed but interesting debate session.