12th Special Session GC/GMEF Website

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GC Day 1 - 22 February 2012

Side Event

UNEP - Live: Keeping The Future State of the World Environment Under Review

UNEP-Live is a platform for information sharing. The prototype was developed internally by UNEP's Division of Early Warning and Assessment with support from ESRI.

In his opening remarks, John M. Matuszak, Division Chief, Sustainable Development & Multilateral Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans Environment and Science, welcomed the 52 persons who attended the event. He noted that UNEP-Live is modeled around the Eye on Earth platform which has been developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) with support from ESRI to make information easily accessible. Peter Gilruth, Director of UNEP's Division of Early Warning and Assessment, acknowledged the push from Governments for UNEP to move away from the business as usual approach of preparing the Global Environment Outlook to a process that is dynamic. He also provided a brief background of UNEP-Live including the GC decision calling for the prototype and reiterated that it is going to be built through partnerships. He asserted that UNEP-Live going to be his top priority in 2012 and called for advice and support for its further development. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency presented her vision for data sharing using the Eye on Earth platform which currently serves more than 60 countries - mostly the participants of the EIONET. She highlighted how new ways of visualizing information supported by Eye on Earth is compelling Governments to share information. She also mentioned the services of the systems such as SEIS and INSPIRE, amongst others.

A presentation on behalf of AGEDI looked at UNEP-Live as a platform that can be scaled to the regional and national levels. UNEP-Live must support regional networks, meet the requirements of regional stakeholders and facilitate reporting. The presentation emphasized that the data must be owned by stakeholders and that AGEDI would be part of the Phase II development of UNEP-Live. Guenther Pichler from ESRI Inc, Europe stated that UNEP-Live is an excellent example of pattern that makes use of Cloud GIS. ESRI provided the technology and human resources during the development of the UNEP-Live prototype.

A 6 minute video on UNEP-Live that was prepared with the assistance of ESRI was followed by a brief presentation focusing on UNEP-Live in the context of capacity-building at the regional level, using the example of the Nairobi Convention. Using the “Country Gateway” feature of the prototype, the presentation demonstrated how these countries are able to share data. Also presented were the ideas being explored for implementing the SOE-Live component of UNEP-Live. It outlined a model that combines the possibilities for dynamic updating of the SOE contents by contributors and the assurance of quality by UNEP.

In the discussions that followed, Joseph Alcamo, UNEP'S Chief Scientist noted that while welcoming UNEP-Live as an essential development, in terms of making the SOE dynamic, UNEP needs to embark on two tasks. First, how to assemble the vast data, indicators and other resources. Second, the challenge of interpretations and analysis.

Other comments noted that while data may be available they may not be readily accessible. Examples included the data collected by farmers in the US and the hydrological data collected for several years by Kenya. Making official data accessible by citizens could be a way of improving the data quality.

Observations were also made that a lot of data is collected by Governments, Scientists and NGOs. This data needs to be made available while the intellectual property stays with the owners. Assessments must be based on new data and the need to have a more regular assessment “discipline”. Bill Sonntag from US EPA, informed the participants that similar global initiatives are underway, for example GEOSS, which encourages open data access.


This is the first step of UNEP-Live development and there are some big tasks ahead. To support dynamic SOE reporting, UNEP-Live platform needs to be populated with good time series data. Working closely with the rest of UNEP would constitute a part of the strategy in achieving this. Assessments must be based on new data so as to instill the discipline of regular reporting. When reporting on progress, Governments should report on the impacts and not only the actions taken.

For More Information Please Contact:

Peter Gilruth, Director, DEWA. UNEP
on Tel: + 254 20 762 4044; E-mail: Peter.Gilruth@unep.org