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UNEP:

Dr. Norberto Fernandez, GRID Facility, spoke about modern techniques for assessing the global environment, including satellite imagery, remote sensing and geographic information systems. He mentioned that sound management of the environment requires good assessment of situations, which, in turn, requires timely and reliable data and information. He explained that the transfer of data and information from the sectorial sources to the decision-making level is an on-going process. The Global Resource Information Database (GRID) has helped to bridge the gap between scientific understanding of earth processes and sound management of the environment. He then explained the uses of geographic information systems (GIS) that can integrate data from different sources and add a spatial dimension, bringing flexibility into data analysis. Although GIS cannot give the real answer to the problem of desertification, it can help build hypotheses. He explained how the World Atlas of Desertification is an important contribution to the understanding of this issue and provides information in a clear, concise, geographically-referenced format. It shows interactions between socio-economic and environmental factors and helps governments and policy-makers to assess the scope of the problem, examine alternatives and decide on a course of action.