Geology for Global Development

GfGD General

35th International Geological Congress (Cape Town, South Africa)

35th International Geological Congress (Cape Town, South Africa)

The past few months have been busy with other work, and unfortunately I’ve not been able to post much on here. I’m hoping to get back to regular posts over the coming weeks, starting with a note on GfGD involvement in the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC) in Cape Town later this month. The IGC takes place every four years, and is a flagship event of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).

The 35th IGC, taking place in Cape Town (South Africa) from 27th August 2016 to 4th September 2016, is an exciting opportunity for geoscientists from around the world to meet, share research and exchange ideas. The event will include sessions on geoscience for society, geoscience in the economy and fundamental geoscience – recognising that there are many interactions between these three themes. This is only the third time in the history of the IGC that it has been held in Africa. In 1929, the event was held in Pretoria (South Africa) and in 1952 the event was held in Algeria. It’s an exciting opportunity for South Africa to profile it’s spectacular geology (including Table Mountain in Cape Town), as well as consider the role of geology in supporting development across sub-Saharan Africa.

Geology for Global Development will be playing an active role in the IGC, our first engagement in this international event. Through a successful application to the IGC geohost funding programme, I will be attending to represent GfGD, deliver a workshop, and contribute to sessions on geoethics, geoeducation and natural hazards.

  1. Workshop: Social Responsibility and Sustainability: Education and PracticeThis one-day workshop, run in collaboration with established mineral development expert Mike Katz, will explore ways to introduce socially responsible programs into university education (and other training programmes). It will also discuss skills for sustainability, and consider practical ways by which they can be nurtured.
  2. Talk and Paper Dissemination: Geology and the Sustainable Development Goals. This talk, part of a symposia on geoethics, will outline the importance of geoscientists contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Read the paper (in press in the IUGS journal Episodes) online here.
  3. Talk and Paper Dissemination: Building Good Foundations. This talk, part of a symposia on geoeducation, will share a paper recently published in the Geological Society of America Special Publication 520 on ‘Building Good Foundations: Equipping geoscientists with the skills to engage in international development’.
  4. Talk and Paper Dissemination: Multi-Hazard Interactions. This talk, part of a symposia on geohazards, will present PhD research on the interactions of natural hazards (read more in this open-access Reviews of Geophysics paper) while also highlighting the Young Scientists Platform on DRR to a geoscience audience.

We’ll aim to get as many resources from these events on our website as soon as possible after the IGC.

As a member of the Geological Society of London External Relations Committee I will also be a part of the UK delegation to the IUGS-IGC Council Meetings, examining the work of IUGS initiatives such as Resourcing Future Generations, and groups working on Geoscience Education, Training and Technology Transfer, and Global Geoscience Professionalism.

Where possible I’ll be tweeting from the event (@Geo_Dev and/or @JoelCGill), and sharing more about relevant sessions and events on the blog after I return. If any of our readers will also be attending, and would like to talk more about geology and international development, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, or other relevant geo-topics then please do get in touch.

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.

GfGD Annual Conference 2015 – Speaker Introductions (Session 1)

Our 3rd Annual Conference, with the theme Fighting Global Poverty – Geology and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) takes place on Friday 30th October, hosted by the Geological Society of London. Here we will be introducing some of the speakers, starting with Session 1 (DFID, Science and the SDGs)…

apd_staff_timwheelerProfessor Tim Wheeler (Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for International Development)

Tim Wheeler is Professor of Crop Science, in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University or Reading, currently on secondment to DFID. He has published extensively on how climate change could impact the sustainability of agriculture and food. In his role at DFID, Tim provides science advice to Ministers, and oversees the research portfolio of their Research and Evidence Division.

Tim will be speaking on ‘DFID, Science and the Sustainable Development Goals‘, highlighting how DFID uses science to support international development. This session will include a Q&A session, a great opportunity to learn more about Tim’s work in DFID and research – please come prepared to engage and ask questions.

Read more about Tim’s work: www.reading.ac.uk/apd/staff/t-r-wheeler.aspx


Register Now: www.gfgdconference2015.eventbrite.co.uk

(Please note that many of our speakers are involved in work that requires them to travel overseas at short notice. The programme/speakers may change at short notice).