A new socio-technology platform developed under the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative aims to fast-track environment assessments and save governments around the world thousands of staff hours reporting environmental conditions and performance contributing to sustainable development.
Launched today at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, the Indicator Reporting Information System-3 (IRIS-3) is a web platform, available as a remotely-hosted or intranet app, that makes the assessment and reporting of environmental information at local, national, regional and global scales easier, faster and more unified.
Developed by the long-standing AGEDI implementation partnership between Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and United Nations Environment Programme, IRIS has the potential to transform state-of-environment reporting; helping decision-makers to take informed and timely action to improve our natural world.
Around the world, at local, national, regional and global levels, government agencies, NGO’s and the private sector produce numerous environmental status and performance reports every year. Reporting manually can be a slow and labour-intensive process. When stakeholders need status updates on quarterly or monthly basis, report production becomes a significant drain on institutional resources.
IRIS will use indicators to automatically convert data collected from an organisation’s routine environmental monitoring programmes into a standardised report, while still allowing each organisation to add its commentary on status, trends, causes and consequences.
The human and machine reports produced through IRIS can then be easily aggregated at a national, regional or global level to provide a wider picture of the state of the environment.
Today’s launch of IRIS-3 marks the first time the platform is available with automatic end-to-end reporting, and organisations are now invited to register their interest in using the free-of-charge application.
Launching IRIS 3 at the World Urban Forum, Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, which is proving IRIS at the sub-national reporting level, said:
“Monitoring and reporting on Abu Dhabi’s environment is a hugely important part of what we do at the agency. Whether it is the water quality at Saadiyat Beach or the air quality in our main residential areas, data helps us take evidence-based decisions to respond to environmental challenges, protect ecosystems and promote a healthy environment.
“IRIS will allow us to automate the process of reporting on the state and trends in the environment whilst ensuring the deep local knowledge of our scientists is embedded in the report narrative. I believe this system has the potential to transform the way countries report to stakeholders and will contribute to progress in national, regional and global efforts to protect and preserve our environment for future generations.
“The launch of IRIS-3 is an exciting moment and I am proud of Abu Dhabi’s central role in innovating this game-changing globally-deployable technology,” she added. “It is part of our nearly two-decade long commitment to equip policymakers with actionable, timely information to inform and guide critical decisions towards a sustainable future.”
Much of the long-term, in-situ environmental monitoring data upon which national, regional and global assessments depends originates from sub-national level entities. As well as reducing the reporting burden at the institutional level, IRIS provides a mechanism for information to be exchanged and converted into actionable insight at local, national, regional and international scales.
IRIS has attracted a great deal of interest; at the regional level, UNEP, in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), has customized IRIS in support of the implementation of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) in the 54 Pan-European countries. At the national level, earlier versions of IRIS have been installed on the Government Infrastructure in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Montenegro, Mauritius, and Samoa to support State of the Environment and the implementation of the Framework for the Development of Environmental Statistics (FDES).
IRIS has attracted interest from outside Government hierarchies; UNEP deployed a thematic derivative for the Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme that runs under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to provide information for elephant range states to support management and enforcement decisions toward long-term management of their elephant populations.
The launch of IRIS-3 represents the start on an exciting next phase of the UNEP-Abu Dhabi partnership as we deploy IRIS with new users in the UAE, West Asia and globally and develop a global community IRIS deployments and users.
IRIS is a free of cost web-based application and will also be available as an on-premise solution that runs on local servers for organisations that require their data to be kept in-house. The aim is for IRIS to eventually be released as an open source.
IRIS envisions a Shared Knowledge Base (SKB) that will allow reporting organisations to share algorithms, templates and experiences with other IRIS users around the world.