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Abu Dhabi initiative launched at Earth Summit

posted on 03/09/2002: 1933 views

JOHANNESBURG - The UAE yesterday launched the world's most ambitious project on environmental data collection with high hopes to fill the information gap between developed and developing countries and pledged $5 million as an initial fund for the initiative.

Announced by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah, who is heading the UAE delegation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) is a collective and collaborative global response to the critical need to bridge the ever widening environmental data/information gap between developed and developing countries that continues to plague developing countries in their quest for a healthy environment and overall sustainability.

"By promoting the development and use of more reliable and valid environmental data, AGEDI is an innovative catalyst for worldwide action to provide high quality, updated, relevant and comprehensive environmental data at an appropriate scale for decision making at micro (local community), mezzo (national) and macro (regional/ global) levels of impact," said Sheikh Hamad in a speech read out on his behalf by Hamad Abdul Rahman Al Midfa, Health Minister and Chairman of the Federal Environmental Agency (FEA).

The vision of the AGEDI, he said, was to have a world with no data gap between or within developing and developed countries, and where all people had easy and cost-effective access to quality environmental data and information for decisions that would enhance their personal well-being and that of 'our planet', i.e. a sustainable world. He said the primary objectives of the AGEDI were to:

(a) Achieve cost-effective and relevant environmental data collection and assessment,

(b) Increase data capacities for local, national, regional and global environmental decisions,

(c) Ensure sustainable development planning is based on quality, timely useable and updated data,

(d) Provide accessibility of data to all stakeholders,

(e) Enhance national and international mechanisms of information processing and exchange,

(f) Ensure full participation of developing countries through UN system collaboration,

The initiative calls for creating an Environmental Information System (EIS) that builds upon past environmental success, addresses past shortcomings and integrates new approaches for data collection, verification and analysis.

In order to build the initiative in an effective and cost-efficient manner, a two-track three-stage methodology will lead the rollout activities effort. In this regard, a strategic implementation will be launched in late 2002 to focus on data collection, management and dissemination at national, regional and global levels.

The second phase will be the implementation of a Regional Implementation Pilot Programme (RIPP). The first RIPP will take place in West Asia, where AGEDI will support the development of a UNEP assessment programme and establishment of the Zayed Centre for Environmental Information and Assessment.

The third pilot programme will be the National Implementation Pilot Project (NIPP), which will take place in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at AGEDI Headquarters. It will be a model for future replication with its primary objectives being to facilitate the definition, standardisation, verification, collection, collation, updating and use of quality environmental data. Funding for the significant initiative will be initiated by US$5 million committed by the Abu Dhabi Environmental Research and |Wildlife Development Agency.

The UAE will also develop a case model for regional funding, to encourage and help other regions to become actively involved in initiating and establishing pilot schemes, possibly in parallel with UAE. A resource Mobilisation Programme will be developed and third party donors and co-sponsors will be invited to provide additional funding totalling US$25 million.

In statement after the launching of the initiative, Midfa said the launching of the Abu Dhabi global environmental data initiative reaffirmed the commitment of the UAE under the leadership of the President, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to the protection and development of environment.

The initiative would make environmental data accessible to developing countries through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) noting that the initiative would enhance the UAE's status in the world arena. Meanwhile, Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary-General of ERWDA, said that the initiative would have to be implemented in three stages on the national and regional levels.

Sheikh Hamad arrived in Johannesburg on Sunday night. He was received on arrival at the Johannesburg international airport by South African Government representative in charge of receiving heads of states and heads of delegations taking part in the summit.

Also at the airport to receive Sheikh Hamad were Mr Midfa, Saif Saeed bin Saad, Foreign Ministry's Under-Secretary, Ali Thani Al Suwaidi, UAE Ambassador to South Africa, and other UAE officials in Johannesburg to take part in the summit. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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