Rio + 20 Audience Experience Educational Aquatic Tour of the Dominican Republic

June 17, 2012

On Sunday, June 17, 2012, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, in partnership with the Sylvia Earle Alliance, presented "Oceans in Google Earth as an Educational Tool: A Dominican Republic Perspective," at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This presentation, one of more than 500 targeted side panels and events that are concurrently taking place alongside the global
political negotiations at the Rio+20 Conference, provides a real-world example of how technology now allows the world to have access to one of Earth’s last frontiers — the Ocean.

GFDD Executive Director, Natasha Despotovic and Environmental Manager Emy Rodriguez took the audience on an interactive Google Oceans tour of the Dominican
Republic’s coasts rich and diverse in biodiversity highlighting endangered species from iguanas to humpback whales. Presented to an audience which included renowned oceanographers Silvia Earle, Fabien Cousteau, representatives from the UN, and other intergovernmental organizations and NGOS, the program explained in detail how Oceans in Google Earth is being effectively used to raise awareness and provide information on coastal and marine resources, using the Dominican Republic as
a model for the Caribbean and Latin American region.

Oceans in Google Earth is an interactive program that allows the viewer to post content in a number of formats, including still photos, audio, video or commentary in the form of plain text. This special panel held in Rio, illustrated how technology is able to expose people across the globe to the rich diversity of life in the ocean and how education, in turn, plays a crucial role in ensuring that the oceans future
health is protected.

In 2009 Google launched Oceans in Google Earth and the "Explore the Ocean" layer, which is curated by the Sylvia Earle Alliance. The layer allows organizations and individuals around the world to populate the Google Ocean with videos and pictures that provide both personal stories and unique regional perspectives of the ocean. Six key areas are covered: ecosystems, marine life, ocean and atmosphere, science and exploration, marine
protected areas and human connections.

"Having a variety of media content is what makes Oceans in Google Earth work," said Charlotte Vick, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Sylvia Earle Alliance. She stressed that, by engaging the public, in particular young people, Google is taking steps to ensure that the world’s collective vision for a sustainable future that promotes prosperity and quality of life without further erosion of the
planet’s natural resources, can become a reality.

Before the event wrapped up, Conference on NGOs President, Cyril Ritchie, briefly spoke about the importance of NGO’s and used the example of how the Oceans in Google Earth side presentation at the Rio+20 Conference offered a real-world example of how cutting-edge technology
can help advance public awareness about ocean issues and bring about a future that is in line with the Conferences long-term environmental goals.

GFDD has been an active partner in the development of the "Oceans in Google" project, which forms part of its wider mission to create a broader Dominican Republic educational outreach initiative promoting greater environmental literacy among its citizens and tourists.

GFDD and
the Environment

Environmental stewardship has been at the forefront of GFDD’s mission since its conception. Through the organization of conferences, workshops and film screenings, and the creation of online and print publications, GFDD has been working to promote environmental protection, conservation and sustainability.

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