Summary of the Eye on Earth Summit

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 1000 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.

Simran Vedvyas represents the youth from around the world whose population is 1.1 billion which constitutes 18% of the total world population proudly. Simran, a Student member with the Emirates Environmental Group – UAE for the last 5 years, has also participated in the Earth Hour Events for the last 5 years–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.

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 her notes about the discussions that had been held over the course of Summit. She was mentioned that the 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?” Then she finished by saying, “whatever the answer is, the time to act is now, and there is an urgent need to deliver on the promises made. We need to deliver the vision.”  An inspiring Video presentation was shown which also moved the huge audiences that were present.