One of the island of Tenerife’s geomatics experts has spoken at a sustainability conference that took place at the RAC Club at Pall Mall on Friday 2nd May 2014. The event, which was hosted by scientific field trip organisers GeoTenerife, contained talks by a number of scientists and government officials from the island.

Dr Javier Pérez Marrero, of the Sustainability Observatory for the Biosphere of El Hierro, delivered a talk on the work done by Interra to promote sustainability in biospheres. In his talk, he explained that Biosphere Smart was an ICT tool to help achieve a sustainable future through territorial intelligence. It is used by UNESCO to share ideas and knowledge amongst biosphere reserves, including the island of El Hierro. Adopted by UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere International Coordination Council, it is devoted to helping biospheres accomplish their mandate.

“ICT can provide a lot of relevant data but this must be translated into useful information,” he said. “If people are taking important decisions about their environment and energy policies, they need qualified information.” Biosphere Smart was also developed as a key tool to support governments ensure future investments fall within required parameters. “When a territory is awarded a Biosphere Reserve title, it is committed to accomplishing several mandates,” said Marrero.

According to Sharon Backhouse, director of GeoTenerife, this tool will be helpful on a number of levels. “Firstly, it allows us all to look at complex information in a user-friendly way. Want to know where the best spot is to put a wind farm in Tenerife? This geomatic tool digests lots of data into an accessible format to do just that. But it is a lot more than that. We all know how unsustainable unchecked development was in the past. You only have to look at some of the bloated tourist developments by the coast in some towns in the Canary Islands to see evidence of that. Thankfully, we are entering a new era, one where there is more respect shown for the delicate ecosystems on these beautiful islands. There is no reason why development, investment and the environment cannot be respectful of each other. Biosphere Smart is a tool that will allow governments, planners, investors – any one of us, in fact, to make smarter, greener choices.”

Dr Pérez Marrero delivered his talk to a room filled with representatives from dozens of UK-based renewable energy companies, along with delegates from African embassies and educationalists.

Also present at the conference was the Cabildo de Tenerife, which was represented on the day by Miguel Diaz Llanos (councillor responsible for Energy) and Eduardo Pintado Mascareno (councillor responsible for Commerce).