Ashbindu Singh described the current trends and changes in technology and the way these changes are affecting the ways in which information is communicated. The world is no longer driven by major corporations, but by individuals – desktop freelancers and innovative startups. Digital revolution has allowed the world to do business instantly through blogging, podcasts and open source softwares.
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The use of ICT in efforts to protect the environment is increasing with varying degrees of success. WWF’s branding of the panda, the Apollo image of the Earth, the image of the ozone depletion, the satellite image of Rondonia in Brazil that brought attention to the rate of tropical deforestation, the satellite image of the arctic that shows the extent of melting ice were among the examples of success described.
UNEP’s mandate is to bring environmental information to the attention of governments. But it’s no longer the main player today. It must compete in a crowded marketplace. Its challenge is getting its message out and connecting the local to the global.
One of UNEP’s successful cases is the Africa Atlas. The formula was simple. The story presented is compelling and inspiring. It was based on science, simple to understand and included several visuals. It was about a well-defined issue, addressed current needs and relates to sustainable development. It utilized time series data or trend over time data, which are very powerful tools in conveying information.
The strength of UNEP is on its science and should continue to be a provider of scientific data. Ashbindu’s vision is for UNEP to serve as a global environmental alert service that offers real time data.
Ashbindu offered the following ideas for GRID-Arendal to consider:
- GRID-Arendal should publicise the Vital Graphics, which are a wonderful product. It is good in visualization, in combining texts, statistics, charts, images and maps, and should continue to do so.
- The focus on changes in polar ecosystems as a barometer for the impact of climate change should be strengthened. Polar materials should be made available through its website.
- GRID-Arendal should be proactive in providing e-mail, web and multi-media alerts.
- Simplexity is the key. There are a lot 0f opportunities to inform, but what is crucial is getting the message out to people.