Environmental information: between scarcity/abundance and emotions/rationality

The Eye on Earth Summit, which was held in Abu Dhabi last week, allowed me to immerse myself in the topics that I’ve been¬†researching for a long time: geographic information, public access to environmental information, participation, citizen science, and the role of all these in policy making. My notes (day 1 morning, day 1 afternoon, day 2 morning, day 2 afternoon, day 3 morning & day 3 afternoon) provide the background for this¬†post, as well as the blog posts from Elisabeth Tyson (day 1, day 2) and the IISD reports and bulletins¬†from the summit. The first Eye on Earth Summit provided me with plenty to think about, so I thought that it is worth reflecting on my ‘Take home’ messages.

What follows are my personal reflections from the summit and the themes that I feel are emerging in the area of environmental information today. 

wpid-wp-1444166132788.jpgWhen considering the recent ratification of the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs by the UN Assembly, it is not surprising that they loomed large over the summit Рas drivers for environmental information demand for the next 15 years, as focal points for the effort of coordination of information collection and dissemination, but also as an opportunity to make new links between environment and health, or promoting environmental democracy (access to information, participation in decision making, and access to justice). It seems that the SDGs are very much in the front of the mind of the international organisations who are part of the Eye on Earth alliance, although other organisations, companies and researchers who are coming with more technical focus (e.g. Big Data or Remote Sensing) are less aware of them Рat least in terms of referring to them in their presentations during the summit.

Beyond the SDGs, two overarching tensions emerged throughout the presentations and discussions – and both are challenging. They are the tensions between abundance and scarcity, and between emotions and rationality. Let’s look at them in turn.

Abundance and scarcity came up again and agin. On the data side, the themes of ‘data revolution’, more satellite information, crowdsourcing from many¬†thousands of weather observers and¬†the creation of more sources of information (e.g. Environmental Democracy Index) are all examples for abundance in the amount of available data and information. At the same time, this was contrasted with the scarcity in the real world (e.g species extinction, health of mangroves), scarcity of actionable knowledge, and¬†scarcity with ecologists with computing skills. Some speakers oscillated between these two ends within few slides or even in the same one. There wasn’t an easy resolution for this tension, and both ends were presented as challenges.


With emotions and scientific rationality, the story was different. Here the conference was packed with examples that we’re (finally!) moving away from a simplistic ‘information deficit model‘¬†that emphasise scientific rationality as the main way to lead a change in policy or public understanding of environmental change. Throughout the summit presenters emphasised¬†the role of mass¬†media communication, art (including live painting development through the summit by GRID-Arendal team), music, visualisation, and story telling as vital ingredients that make information and knowledge relevant and actionable. Instead of a¬†‘Two Cultures’ position, Eye on Earth offered a much more harmonious and collaborative linkage between these two ways of thinking and feeling.

Next, and linked to the issue of abundance and scarcity are costs and funding. Many talks demonstrated the value of¬†open data¬†and the need to provide open, free and accessible information if we want to see environmental information¬†used effectively. Moreover, providing the information with the ability of analyse or visualise it over the web¬†was offered as a way to make it more¬†powerful. However, the systems are costly, and although the assessment of the IUCN demonstrated that the investment in environmental datasets is modest compared to other sources (and the same is true for citizen science), there are¬†no sustainable, consistent and appropriate funding mechanisms, yet. Funding infrastructure or networking activities is also challenging, as funders accept the value, but are not willing to fund them in a sustainable way. More generally, there is an issue about the need to fund ecological and environmental studies – it seem that while ‘established science’ is busy with ‘Big Science’ – satellites, Big Data, complex computer modelling – the work of studying ecosystems in an holistic way is left to small group of dedicated researchers and to volunteers. The urgency ad speed of environmental change demand better funding for these areas and activities.

This lead us to the issue of Citizen Science, for which the good news are that it was mentioned throughout the summit, gaining more prominence than 4 years ago in the first summit (were it also received attention). In all plenary sessions, citizen science or corwdsourced geographic information were¬†mentioned at least once, and frequently by several speakers. Example include¬†Hermes project¬†for recording ocean temperatures,¬†Airscapes Singapore for urban air quality monitoring, the¬†Weather Underground¬†of sharing weather information, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team work in Malawi, Kathmandu Living Lab response to the earthquake in Nepal, Arab Youth Climate Movement in Bahrain¬†use of iNaturalist to record ecological observations, Jacky Judas work with volunteers to monitor dragonflies in Wadi Wurayah National Park ¬†– and many more. Also the summit outcomes¬†document is clear: ¬†“The Summit highlighted the role of citizen science groups in supporting governments to fill data gaps, particularly across the environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development. Citizen Science was a major focus area within the Summit agenda and there was general consensus that reporting against SDGs must include citizen science data. To this end, a global coalition of citizen science groups will be established by the relevant actors and the Eye on Earth Alliance will continue to engage citizen science groups so that new data can be generated in areas where gaps are evident. The importance of citizen engagement in decision-making processes was also highlighted. ”

However, there was ambivalence about it Рshould it be seen as an instrument, a tool to produce environmental information or as a mean to get wider awareness and engagement by informed citizens? How best to achieve the multiple goals of citizen science: raising awareness, educating, providing skills well beyond the specific topic of the project, and democratising decision making and participation? It seem to still be the case that the integration of citizen science into day to day operations is challenging for many of the international organisations that are involved in the Eye on Earth alliance.

Another area of challenging interactions emerged from the need for wide partnerships between governments, international organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), companies, start-ups, and even ad-hoc crowds that respond to a specific event or an issue which are afforded by digital and social network. There are very different speeds in implementation and delivery between these bodies, and in some cases there are chasms that need to be explored – for example, an undercurrent from some technology startups is that governments are irrelevant and in some forms of thinking that ‘to move fast and break things’ – including existing social contracts and practices – is OK. It was somewhat surprising to hear speakers praising Uber or AirBnB, especially when they came from people who familiar with the need for careful negotiations that take into account wider goals and objectives. I can see the wish to move things faster – but to what risks to we bring by breaking things?

With the discussions about Rio Principle 10¬†and the new developments in Latin America, the Environmental Democracy Index, and the rest, I became more convinced, as I’ve noted in 2011, that we need to start thinking about adding another right to the three that are included in it (access to environmental information, participation in decision-making, and access to justice), and develop a right to produce environmental information that will be taken seriously by the authorities – in other words, a right for citizen science. I was somewhat surprised by the responses when I raised this¬†point during the discussion on Principle 10.

Final panel (source: IISD)

Finally, Eye on Earth was inclusive and collaborative, and it was a pleasure to see how open people were to discuss issues and explore new connections, points of view or new ways of thinking about issues. A special point that raised several positive responses was the gender representation in such high level international conference with a fairly technical focus (see the image of the closing panel). The composition of the speakers in the summit, and the fact that it was possible to have such level of women representation was fantastic to experience (making one of the male-only panels on the last day odd!). It is also an important lesson for many academic conferences – if Eye on Earth can, I cannot see a reason why it is not possible elsewhere.

Eye on Earth (Day 1 – afternoon) – policy making demand for data and knowledge for healthy living

The afternoon of the first day of Eye on Earth (see previous post for an opening ceremony and the morning sessions) had multiple tracks. I selected to attend Addressing policy making demand for data; dialogue between decision makers and providers

wpid-wp-1444139631192.jpgThe speakers were asked to address four points that address issues of data quality control and assurance, identify the major challenges facing data quality for decision-making in the context of crowd-sourcing and citizen science.¬†Felix Dodds ¬†who chaired the session noted that – the process of deciding on indicators for SDGs is managed through the UN Inter-agency group, and these indicators and standards of measurements need to last for 15 years. ¬†There is now also ‘World Forum on Sustainable Development Data’ and review of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) is also coming. The speakers are asked to think about ¬†coordination mechanisms and QA to ensure good quality data? How accessible is the data? Finally, what is the role of citizen science within this government information? We need to address the requirements of the data – at international, regional, and national levels.

Nawal Alhosany (MASDAR institute): Data is very important ingredient in making policy when you try to make policy on facts and hard evidence. Masdar is active throughout the sustainability chain, with a focus on energy. The question how to ensure that data is of good quality, and Masdar recognised gap in availability of data 10 years ago. For example, some prediction tools for solar power were not taking into account local conditions, as well as quality assurance that is suitable to local needed. Therefore, they developed local measurement and modelling tools (ReCREMA). In terms of capacity building, they see issues in human capacity across the region, and try to address it (e.g. lack of open source culture). In Masdar, they see a role for citizen science Рand they make steps towards it through STEM initiatives such as Young Future Energy Leaders and other activities.

David Rhind (Nuffiled Foundation): many of the data sets that we want cover national boundaries – e.g. radioactive plum from Chernobyl. When we want to mix population and environment, we need to deal with mixing boundaries and complex problems with data integrity. There are also serious problem with validity – there are 21 sub-Saharan countries that haven’t done household survey sine 2006, so how can we know about levels of poverty today? There is a fundamental question of what is quality, and how can we define it in any meaningful sense. Mixing data from different sources is creating a problem of what quality mean. Some cases can rely on international agreements – e.g. N principles, or¬†the UK regulatory authority to check statistics. Maybe we should think of international standards like in accountancy. In terms of gaps in capacity, there is a quick change due to need for analysis and data scientists are becoming available in the UK, but there is issue with policy makers who do not have the skills to understand the information. Accessible data is becoming common with the open data approach, but many countries make official data less open for security. However, data need some characteristics – need to be re-use , easy to distribute, public and with open licensing. The issue about the citizen science – there are reasons to see it as an opportunity – e.g. OpenStreetMap, but there are many factors that make its integration challenging. There is a need for proper communication – e.g. the miscommunication in L’Aquila

Kathrine Brekke (ICLEI) Рperspective from local government. Local government need data for decision-making. Data also make it the city suitable for investment, insurance, and improve transparency and accountability. There are issues of capacity in terms of collecting the data, sharing it, and it is even down to language skills (if it is not available in English, international comparison is difficult). There are initiatives such as open.dataforcities.org to allow sharing of city data. There are 100 sustainability indicators that are common across cities and can be shared. In terms of data quality we can also include crowdsourcing Рbut then need to ensure that it the data will be systematic and comparable. The standards and consistency are key Рe.g. greenhouse registry is important and therefore there is global protocol for collecting the data.

Ingrid Dillo (DANS, Netherlands) there is data deluge with a lot of potential, but there are challenges about the quality of the data and trust. Quality is about fitness for use. DANS aim is to ensure archiving of data from research projects in the Netherlands. Data quality in science – made of scientific data quality but also technical. Scientific integrity is about the values of science – standards of conduct within science. There are issues with fraud in science that require better conduct. Data management in small projects lack checks and balances, with peer pressure as major driver to ensure quality – so open science is one way to deal with that. There are also technical issues such as metadata and data management so it can be used and stored in certified trustworthy digital repository.

Robert Gurney (University of Reading) -in environmental science there is the Belmont Forum e-Infrastructures & data management. The Belmont forum is association of environmental science funders from across the world. The initiative is to deal with the huge increase in data. Scientists are early adopters of technology and some of the lessons can be used from what scientists are doing by other people in the environmental sector. The aim is to deliver knowledge that is needed for action. The infrastructure is needed to meet global environmental challenges. This require working with many supercomputers Рthe problems are volume, variety, veracity, velocity (Big Data) Рwe getting many petabytes Рcan reach 100 Petabytes by 2020. The problem is that data is in deep silos Рeven between Earth Observation archives. The need to make data open and sharable. There will be 10% of funding going towards e-infrastructure. They created data principles and want to have the principle of open by default.

Marcos Silva (CITES) ¬†Cites is about the trade in engendered species . CITES (since mid 1970s) ¬†regulate trade in multi-billion dollar business with 850,000 permits a year. Each permits say that it’s OK to export a specimen without harming the population. It is data driven. CITES data can help understanding outliers and noticing trends. There are issues of ontologies, schema, quality etc. between the signatories – similar to environmental information. They would like to track what happen to the species across the world. They are thinking about a standard about all the transactions with specimen which will create huge amount of data. Even dealing with illegal poaching and protection of animals, there is a need for interoperable data.

Discussion: Data Shift for citizen generated data for SDG goals. Is there data that is already used? How we are going to integrate data against other types of data? We risk filtering citizen science data out because it follow different framework. Rhind Рstatisticians are concerned about citizen science data, and will take traditional view, and not use the data. There is a need to have quality assurance not just at the end. The management of indicators and their standards will require inclusion of suitable data. Marcos ask what is considered citizen science data? e.g. reporting of data by citizens is used in CITES and there are things to learn Рhow the quality of the data can be integrated with traditional process that enforcement agencies use. Science is not just data collection and analysis, such as climateprediction.net  and multiple people can analyse information. Katherine talked about crowdsourcing Рe.g. reporting of trees in certain cities  so there is also dialogue of deciding which trees to plant. Ingrid Рdisagree that data collection on its own is not science. Nawal Рdoing projects with schools about energy, which open participation in science. Rhind Рraised the issue of the need for huge data repository and the question if governments are ready to invest. Gurney Рneed to coordinate multiple groups and organisations that are dealing with data organisations. There is a huge shortage of people in environmental science with advanced computing skills.

wpid-wp-1444166132788.jpgThe second session that I attended explored¬†Building knowledge for healthy lives¬†opened by¬†Jacqueline McGlade – the context of data need to focus on the SDGs, and health is underpinning more goals then environmental issues. UNEP Live is aimed to allow access UN data – from country data, to citizen science data – so it can be found. The panel will explore many relations to health: climate change, and its impact on people’s life and health. heatwaves and issues of vulnerability to extreme events. Over 40 countries want to use the new air quality monitoring that UNEP developed, including the community in Kibera.

wpid-wp-1444166114783.jpgHayat Sindi is the CEO of i2Institute, exploring social innovations. Our ignorance about the world is profound. We are teaching children about foundation theories without questioning science heroes and theories, as if things are static. We are elevating ideas from the past and don’t question them. We ignore the evidence. The fuel for science is observation. We need to continue and create technology to improve life. Social innovation is important – and she learn it from diagnostic for all (DFA) from MIT. The DFA is low cost, portable, easy to use and safely disposable. The full potential of social innovation is not fulfilled. True scientists need to talk with people, understand their need, and work with them

Maria Neira¬†(WHO) – all the SDGs are linked to health. A core question is what are the environmental determinants of health. Climate change, air quality – all these are part of addressing health and wellbeing. Need to provide¬†evidence based guidelines, and the WHO also promote health impact assessment for major development projects. There are different sectors – housing, access to water, electricity – some healthcare facility lack access to reliable source of energy. Air pollution is a major issue that the WHO recognise as a challenge – killing 7m people a year. With air quality we don’t have a choice with a warning like we do with tobacco. The WHO offering indicators who offer that the access to energy require to measure exposure to air pollution. There is a call for strong collaboration with other organisation. There is a global platform on air quality and health that is being developed. Aim to enhance estimation of the impacts from air quality.

Joni Seager (GGEO coordinating lead author) talking about gender and global environmental outlook. She looks at how gender is not included in health and environmental data. First example – collect gender data and then hide it. Gender analysis can provide better information can help in decision making and policy formation. ¬†Second method – dealing with households – they don’t have agency in education, access to car or food security, but in reality there is no evidence that food security is household level attribute – men and women have different experience of coping strategies – significant different between men or women. Household data is the view of the men and not the real information. Household data make women especially invisible. There are also cases where data is not collected. In some areas – e.g. sanitation, information is not collected. If we building knowledge for healthy life, we should ask who’s knowledge and who’s life?

Parrys Raines (Climate Girl) grown in Australia and want to protect the environment – heard about climate change as 6 years old and then seek to research and learn about the data – information is not accessible to young girls. She built close relationships with UNEP. There are different impacts on young people. She is also sharing information about air quality and pollution to allow people to include youth in the discussion and solutions. Youth need to be seen as a resource across different levels – sharing generation, global thinking. There is need for intergenerational communication – critical. knowledge of data is critical for the 21st century. Need organisations to go out and support youth – from mentoring to monetary support.

wpid-wp-1444166106561.jpgIman Nuwayhid talking about the health and ecological sustainability in the Arab world. There are many Millennium Development Goals¬†MDGs that have been achieved, but most of the countries fell short of achieving them. In ecological sustainability, the picture is gloomy in the Arab world – many countries don’t have access to water. Demand for food is beyond the capacity of the region to produce. Population is expected to double in next 30 years. Poorer countries have high fertility – lots of displacement: war, economic and environmental. Development – there are striking inequities in the region – some of the wealthiest countries and the poorest countries in the world. Distribution of water need to consider which sector should use it. In comparison of health vs military expenditure, the Arab world spend much more on military than on health. There is interaction between environment, population and development. The region ecological footprint is highest and increasing. There are also issues of political instability that can be caused by environmental stresses. Displacement of people between countries create new stresses and question the value of state based analysis. Uncertainty is a major context for the region and science in general.

Discussion: the air quality issue – monitoring is not enough without understanding the toxicity, dispersion. Air pollution are impacted also by activities such as stone quarries. Need to balance monitoring efforts with accuracy and the costs of acting. Need to develop models and methods to think about it’s use. Some urban area of light and noise have also impacts not just on death but on quality of life and mental problems.

Two side events of interest run in parallel:

wpid-wp-1444166098477.jpgThe European Environmental Bureau presented a side event on collaborative research and activist knowledge on environmental justice. Pressure on resources mean extractive industries operate in the south with the outcomes used in the North. There is an increased level of conflicts in the south. The EJOLT project is a network of 23 partners in 23 countries. It’s collaborative research of scientists, grass roots organisations, NGOs and legal organisations. They had a whole set results. A visible result is the Atlas of environmental justice. There is plenty to say about citizen science and how important is that information come from people who are closed to the ground. They work with team in ecological economics, that created a moderated process for collecting and sharing information. The atlas allow to look at information according to different categories, and this is link to stories about the conflict and it’s history – as well as further details about it. The atlas is a tool to map conflicts but also to try and resolve them. The EEB see the atlas as an ongoing work and they want to continue and develop sources of information and reporting. Updating and maintaining the tool is a challenge that the organisation face.

At the same time, the best practice guidelines Putting Principle 10 into action was launched, building on the experience from Aarhus guide, there are plenty of case studies and information and it will be available at on the UNEP website

wpid-wp-1444166160281.jpgThe gala dinner included an award to the sensable city lab project in Singapore, demonstrating the development of personalise travel plans that can help avoiding pollution and based on 30-40 participants who collected data using cheap sensors.

Eye on Earth (day 1 – morning) – opening and the need for data

wpid-wp-1444123666530.jpgFour years after the first Eye on Earth Summit (see my reflections about the 2011 event here, and the Dublin meeting in 2013 here), the second summit is being held in Abu Dhabi. Eye on Earth is a meeting that is dedicated to the coordination of environmental information sharing at all scales so it can be used for decision making.
The 2015 summit is structured around 3 core themes, with each day focusing on one aspect: data demand, data supply and enabling condition. By its nature, environmental information is geographical, so the meeting include people from different aspects of geographical information production and management Рfrom satellites and remote sensed data to citizen science.
The first day stated with an opening ceremony with a statement that on Earth, people and nature are linked together, for example the link between the Sahara and the Amazon through dust that transfer nutrients. We came to know that through information that is not only coming from big organisations like NASA, but there are many citizen scientists that also report what happen to the dust that does not travel all the way. Integrating all these bits of information bring with it questions about ownership, how it is used and who use it – all these are questions that we are explored in Eye on Earth.
The opening video was conveying messages about the importance of looking after the planet, and noticing the connection between elements of nature. The stresses that it is currently experiencing, and the potential of information and information sharing to make better decisions. Sharing information about society, about one another – “and the earth itself”. Eye on Earth is a network of networks.
H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak opened on behalf of AGEDI, the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative. She provided the context of the development of Eye on Earth from the early stages, and the special initiatives that are done as part of it. AGEDI have been running for 13 years, with a range of initiatives to support  environmental information locally and globally. (I only partially summarised H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak and nothing from H.E. Anwar Gargas because of lack of access to translation).
wpid-wp-1444128314186.jpgAchim Steiner, who head the UNEP explained that Eye on Earth is not just a group of environmental managers and scientists are focusing on – it takes back to the blue marble, which demonstrate the uniqueness and fragility of the planet. The state of the planet in 2015 is worse than 40 years ago, when Apollo 17 took the image – from the atmosphere to biodiversity – the balance-sheet of the planet is pointing in the wrong directions. We have billions of people added to the planet, and there was extraordinary progress – but a deeper sense of discomfort about the responsibility to nature is lacking. We now have millions of way to looking at the planet and understand what is happening. The agenda for sustainable development goals (SDGs) have been adopted few days ago in the UN – and it is now understood that environmental issues cannot be seen as separate from development, and we now have universal goals to create environmental knowledge and expertise with the data that become available. UNEP Live is an attempt to create an open data network and is linked with AGEDI initiatives. The world is frustrated – we can’t describe problems in abstract. Data management is crucial to develop systemic solutions – we live in ecosystems, but also social and economic systems. We can’t talk about a world of 10 billion people without transition to low carbon solutions. We need to deal with equality and justice. There are new markets in pay as you go for off grid solar energy, and range of solutions that will guide us to the future. UNEP shared a video about the pressures that we are experiencing (lose of species, climate change) and the need to act now for people and planet, calling for people to join the discussion at myunea.org
H.E. Rashid Ahmed Mohammed Bin Fahad. Рwho is the minister responsible for environment and water at UAE. Highlighting the long leadership in Abu Dhabi to environmental issues since its foundations.  Data are very important to evaluate the progress that was achieved since the previous summit, and to understand the progress. Data and environmental information are critical to the UAE, especially due to all the development in the area. The national agenda for 2021 is also aiming to have different ways of accessing and using data. They have the ecoprint in 2007 Рpartnerships of sharing information and system to achieve for lighting, energy and water. Ecoprint help in reducing the environmental impact in the UAE. The UAE aim to turn the economy green in the coming years, and this is also important for competitiveness. We need to acknowledge the importance of data and information, and we need to bridge the gap between developing and developed country, and we need to have accurate data.
Following the opening, the first plenary session focused on Data Demand¬†which “provide an overview of the key political and societal agreements and ambitions for a transition to a sustainable future. Highlighting the opportunities and challenges we face regarding data, information and knowledge. An increased evidence and knowledge base is required to support policy and decision makers in delivering on these commitments and in tracking progress. Never before has the world had the need for ‚Äď and access to ‚Äď so much data and information enhanced through rapidly evolving technologies and multi-stakeholder engagement. Achieving sustainable development is not possible without all of society playing its role. This requires leadership, partnership and accountability from the UN, governments, the private sector and civil society.”
The first presenter was H.E. Mohammed Al Ahbabi who covered UAE space activities. Space is important Рfor national security and economy, and new race for space with over 60 countries participating. Space capabilities are important for environmental monitoring Рearth observations, and this week is the space week. UAE identified space as important activities long time ago Р$5.5B investment, from telecommunication to earth observation. UAE set a space agency a year ago, coordinating activities Рbuilding capacity and regulating the sector. It also lead on a space mission to Mars Рscience mission to explore the atmosphere to understand things on Earth. Aiming to launch it in 2020 so it arrive to Mars in 2021 to celebrate 50 years to UAE. UAE aim to have 12 satellite, with valuable information to help protect the environment.
Thani Al Zayoudi – UAE representative to the international renewable energy agency, in the ministry of foreign affairs. Eye on Earth is about the role of UAE in being part of providing data and using it. UAE welcome the SDGs, and they require sharing data at many levels. This is also required for COP21. The UAE is engaged in a process of creating world class national data. They also aim to coordinate environmental data, a full accounting of carbon emissions and more – they aim is to have data to know where they want to go. They have KPI for the UAE which include many environmental goals for 2021.
Naoko Ishii, CEO of Global Environment Facility – who was involved in setting SDG. SDGs recognise that ambitions to developments are limited by planetary boundaries and the need to protect the environment. We need multi stakeholders engagement to address issues. Finally, there is plenty need to access data. We are going to have a special period, that we can get information about the earth from satellite, social media, sensors and many sources. Yet, for those who work in developing countries, there is a gap in capabilities in many governments and communities. The data enhanced GEF projects – knowing more lead for better policy. High resolution data is helpful to planning from disaster preparedness to climate adaptation. There is also more marine data. Reliable timely information can lead to better enforcement of agreed goals and target, as demonstrated in Global Forest Watch. We need to make sure that capacity is build from local to national levels to allow them to use the data. GEF are paying extra attention to augment capabilities – but the challenge is massive and need to address it. GEF aim to improve knowledge management as a goal. Second point: need to promote integrated approaches to help making change. Need analysis to understand how such integrated approaches can become part of policy making. Need multi-stakeholders partnerships – they are enhanced by multiple sources of information. For example, linking commodities flow to forest monitoring. Better informed government, business and citizens can make better decisions that benefit them and the environment. The commitment to SDG can help make it happen.

Mathis Wackernagel (Global Footprint Network) – with resource consumption in China, India and US, what should small countries do? If we assume that resource demand will continue to go on forever? You need to prepare you country to the future. Imagine a boat with a hole, it does not make sense to wait with all the other boat owners to fix their boats. He explained how to calculate ecological footprint, using a global hactre. Over the last 20 years, most of humanity is living in countries that passed their ecological footprint. Every country has it’s own characteristics and aspects. There are differences in footprint and biocapacity. Countries are working with GFN to take efficiency down. They also work with financial institutions. Countries should move to action regardless of the global level of actions. Understand the country resource situation, including trends. Also need to assess trading partners and how they perform. Which product lines will be need more and which less.

Robbie Schingler (planet Labs) – we’re in a sensor revolution, there are new entrants every day, and we need to join forces. going through sensors revolutions – mobile phones, or drones and also projects such as OpenROV for marine environment. Getting to the point ‘transparent planet’ and we can use all this information to understand the world in real time. Space also change: consumer electronics, advances in manufacturing, but access to space is still limited. Planet labs mission is to build large set of satellite and image the whole day every day and provide universal access to the data. They¬†were in a garage when Eye on Earth 2011 happen and that will continue to happen – new people will join in all the time. They create a satellites that is tiny compared to Landsat – and possible to put more in place. They aim to have 100 satellites are in line so they can scan the earth – they have already several dozes in space. Already starting to show changes in places and this can fit into many of the SDGs – about 15 of them. They see their work as part of Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data – data4sdgs.org and there are many organisations that are having a mission at their core. Collaboration and sharing is critical to make it happen.

Pierre-Yves Cousteau (Cousteau) Р talked about the family legacy and the inventiveness of his effort over the years. He highlight the importance of ecosystems services, but there is also aesthetic value in swimming among different creatures. There are many ecosystems services Рcatching carbon, producing food. The oceans produce huge economic value Рthere are problems with plastic distribution across the ocean Рwhen we eat fish, we are consuming this plastic. There are also problems from climate change Рrisks to reefs and corals Рand they have ecosystems that are based on them. There are many risks РCOP21 does not discuss the ocean enough and that is an issue. The Cousteau divers is a citizen science initiative that use recreational divers to provide information about it. There are marine protected area that help the ocean recover. This also open opportunity to invest in nature. Project Hermes is a project to take the temperature of the ocean properly Рnot enough information is recorded from satellite. We can get the data from dive computers that give both historical and future information. They secured over 100,000 logs that will be shared in open way.

Interestingly, in this first set of talks, Citizen science was recognised already in three. ¬†“citizen participation and citizen science is the key” was the message that closed the session.