Geology for Global Development

GfGD Conference

GfGD Annual Conference 2017

Since 2013, Geology for Global Development (GfGD) has organised an annual conference exploring the role of geologists in fighting poverty and sustainable development. Each event has gathered 100-150 participants (with >80% being students and early-career geoscientists) to engage with experts from academia, the private sector, the public sector and civil society. Our annual conference is a highlight of the GfGD calendar, and we’re very excited to announce the theme of our next, and 5th, annual conference.

Urbanisation is a development mega-trend, associated with both major challenges but also significant opportunities for delivering the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (e.g., SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities; SDG 6 – Universal Access to Water and Sanitation).

“More than half of the world’s population now live in urban areas. By 2050, that figure will have risen to 6.5 billion people – two-thirds of all humanity. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces.” [UNDP]

“Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically.” [UN]

This conference, aimed at geoscientists at all stages of their careers (from students to experienced professionals), will again seek to draw on the expertise of both geoscience and development professionals working across diverse sectors. We’ll be exploring themes such as the sustainable resourcing of cities and resilient cities, with a particular focus on the Global South.

The 5th GfGD Annual Conference will take place on Friday 3 November, kindly hosted and supported by the Geological Society of London (Burlington House, London). A full programme will be released later this summer, and tickets made available then also. Follow our Facebook and Twitter for further details, and keep an eye on this blog for some additional ‘cities and development’ themed articles.

4th GfGD Annual Conference – Geology and the SDGs (Registration Open)

4th GfGD Annual Conference – Geology and the SDGs (Registration Open)

Registration for the next GfGD Annual Conference is now open!

4th GfGD Annual Conference – Geology and the Sustainable Development Goals

Friday 4th November 2016 (registration open from 9.45 am, for a 10.20 am start), hosted and supported by the Geological Society of London (Burlington House, Piccadilly, London).

Register here: (£5 students/unwaged, £13.09 employed)

In October 2015, GfGD organised the first major conference anywhere in the world on the role of geologists in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over 120 people came together to learn from and engage with geology and development experts from government, industry, academia and NGOs.

At our next annual conference, on Friday 4th November, we seek to build on these discussions, exploring ‘best practice’ and profiling ways by which delegates can make a personal contribution (in both short and long-term contexts) to the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs. Sessions will explore what we mean by ‘best practice’ in the context of development, ethics, sustainability, and there will be a dedicated session on the role of the mining sector in supporting the SDGs. We’ll be using a mixture of lectures, panel discussions, and more interactive group activities.

We’re delighted that Dr Tania Mathias MP, acting chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee, has agreed to open the conference. Professor Iain Stewart (Director, Sustainable Earth Institute, Plymouth University) will give the keynote lecture on “Ethical Dimensions of Transdisciplinary Approaches in Seismic Risk Communication”.

We’re still confirming some speakers, and will update the conference webpage over the coming weeks:

Reviewing Key Development Agreements of 2015

2015 has been a significant year for global development efforts, with major agreements on disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and climate change. The hard work has only just started, with significant work needed over the coming years and decades to deliver real, positive change.

Fuego (Guatemala) is a currently active volcano, with risks to local populations and their livelihoods.

Fuego (Guatemala) is a currently active volcano, with risks to local populations and their livelihoods.

Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015-2030

Agreed in March 2015, this framework aims to substantially ‘reduce disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries’. A key priority of this framework is to better understand disaster risk, meaning that science has a crucial role to play in ensuring its success.

Seismologists, volcanologists, engineering geologists and others can all support this framework through their research and practice. One practical opportunity is the UNISDR Science and Technology conference, taking place in Geneva next January. Gathering scientists of all types, and from all locations, this event will launch the science and technology roadmap for supporting the Sendai Framework. The deadline to register for this free event is 31st December 2015.

Global Goals for Sustainable Development 2015-2030

These 17 Global Goals, agreed in September 2015, aim to end global poverty, fight injustice and inequality, and ensure environmental sustainability over the next 15 years (2015-2030). Earlier this year we hosted our third annual conference, exploring these goals. We believe this was the first major geology conference around the world to ask the question ‘how can we as a community best use our skills and resources to support the UN Global Goals?’.

GfGD 3rd Annual Conference (Geology and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development'

GfGD 3rd Annual Conference (Geology and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development’

As noted in a previous post, achieving the SDGs by 2030 will require many sectors to engage, including the geological sciences. Many of the themes within the SDGs are pertinent to geological research and practice. This gives all of us an exciting opportunity to take a leading role in promoting and facilitating responsible Earth stewardship, ensuring sustainable and equitable foundations for future global development. Geology students, educators, researchers, industry professionals, public servants and policymakers can all contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

You can share your ideas and experiences on how geology can best support the UN Global Goals at the next EGU General Assembly, through this relevant session (no abstract processing charges!).

COP21 – Paris Climate Agreement

Also agreed this year, earlier in December, was an agreement on tackling climate change at the Paris ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP21). You can read an excellent summary of the key information on the EGU Blog (Geolog). Through their research on palaeoclimates, geologists have been at the forefront of understanding the underlying science. Through research in energy, carbon capture and storage and natural resources, geologists are supporting the transition to low-carbon technologies and renewable energy supplies. And through their research on natural hazards, water, engineering geology and more, geologists are understanding the impacts of climate change on the land, resources and infrastructure that we are reliant on.

Looking ahead…

From the perspective of global development, it’s been a year in which we have a lot to celebrate. Three significant (albeit imperfect) agreements have been reached that can help humanity to ensure a safer, more sustainable habitation of our planet, Earth. Reaching the agreements took huge amounts of energy and diplomacy, not to mention the years of research and consultation that have helped to shape them. Their true worth can only be measured in the years to come, as we monitor and evaluate their success. Geology doesn’t have all the answers, and can’t shoulder all the responsibility for ensuring that they are achieved in full. We do, however, have a significant role to play. Our research and practice underpins many of the Global Goals, and is crucial for improved disaster risk reduction and tackling climate change. Geologists in industry, research, governments and civil society can all make a difference.

As we leave 2015 and head into 2016, we encourage and invite you all to ask what can you do this coming year to help society move a step closer to seeing the successful implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Global Goals and/or the Paris Climate Change Agreement?‘. A simple first step could be to commit to reading each of them in the first three months of 2016!

We also take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Geology and the Sustainable Development Goals – Conference Resources

10422258_987125631348288_2757422022185646568_nLast week Geology for Global Development gathered 125+ students, recent graduates and professionals to consider the role of the geosciences in the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Hearing from speakers in industry, academia, government, the public sector and civil society – we considered how we can contribute over the next 15 years to their aims of ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality/injustice, and ensuring environmental sustainability.

We’ll be writing a report of the event and sharing some key messages over the coming weeks. In the meantime you can find a wide range of resources from the event, including photographs, associated reading and PowerPoint slides on our conference web page.

We’re looking forward to continuing discussions on Geoscience and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development at the EGU General Assembly (2016), where we hope to co-convene a session on this topic (abstract submission now open).


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