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UNEP Head Launches New Resource Centre for UNEP Live Data Platform

By integrating big data gathered from sensors embedded in smartphones with satellite data, UNEP Live can support governments to tackle climate change and at the same time help cities reduce premature deaths caused by air pollution.

The head of the United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, has launched a new resource center in the organization’s Nairobi headquarters, aimed at training staff, Member States and interested parties on how UNEP Live, a new ‘big data’ analysis tool, can support decision-making and integrated assessments of the state, trends and outlooks of the environment.

UNEP Live weaves together the environmental and socio-economic data of the complex world we live in to create a big picture, showing not only how challenges are interlinked, but how addressing one problem can bring multiple benefits in other areas.

For example, by integrating big data gathered from sensors embedded in smartphones with satellite data, UNEP Live can support governments to tackle climate change and at the same time help cities reduce premature deaths caused by air pollution.

Since its launch in 2014, UNEP Live has evolved from a source of data and knowledge into a distributed knowledge platform enabling access to live data and information about the environment all over the world. It now provides access to the latest UN data for all UN Member States, publications, maps, charting and mapping functionalities and other resources on the environment, society and the economy.

The platform - available in 90 languages - allows countries, researchers, communities of practice and other UNEP stakeholders to access and share data and knowledge from global, regional and national sources. Near real-time data of air quality indexes, volcanic activity, sea-level rise and spatial visualization of red-list species and freshwater treaties are already available. National data-sets from over 100 countries are also online. UNEP Live hosts seven Communities of Practice, with over 1,000 members.

In a first step towards delivering “SDG Live”, UNEP will soon be introducing a new generation of integrated indicators, which link different contexts and areas of knowledge to underpin the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and feed into UN-wide efforts on targets and indicators for the SDGs. The design is aimed at supporting multiple policy targets with a small set of indicators that can track improvements and changes in outcomes and underlying causes. UNEP Live will have visualization tools to show the relationships between indicators of the natural environment, human wellbeing, society and the economy.

UNEP has commissioned MODUL University Vienna to develop a smart web intelligence solution for the environment. The tool will analyze both individual and relevant public opinion trends on air quality, biodiversity and climate change from news channels, social media, online publications, global companies, environmental organizations, partners and stakeholders. Web intelligence technologies will align and compare environmental indicators from structured sources with relevant documents and postings from these online sources.

Citizens and organizations will gain access to an interactive visual dashboard to explore the latest environmental information on UNEP Live. Overall, the Web intelligence platform will provide effective ways to retrieve the most relevant content from a comprehensive environmental knowledge archive. Opinions of key organizations and individuals alike will be automatically captured and put into perspective. This will allow users to spot geographic patterns, identify shifts in opinions on environmental matters, and track the influence of stakeholders on a given public discussion. This kind of information is highly valuable to decision makers and supports efforts to increase environmental literacy.

It provides analysis of progress toward globally agreed environmental goals and can also make available to countries a National Reporting System, which would be owned and run by countries, to enable Member States to streamline their data collection, share information among ministries, develop indicators, and report to national and regional authorities as well as multilateral agreements. UNEP will arrange visits to 46 countries over the next 3 months to understand their needs and demonstrate how UNEP Live and National Reporting System functionality can support their work flows.

The new resource center, located in the New Office Facility, is permanently open to all staff members and government representatives during office hours. Interested parties will be taken on a tour of UNEP Live. The team would be pleased to discuss how to integrate the system with staff ’s daily work operations, ensuring a more coherent approach to delivering the organization’s Programme of Work and facilitating decision-making processes.




Current Issue: Africa Water & Sanitation & Hygiene December 2018 Vol.13 No.6