Geology for Global Development

GfGD News

Demonstrating the Importance of Geoscience in the Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies

Next week the UN Annual Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will discuss the science required for “transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. Discussions will focus on SDGs 6 (water and sanitation), 7 (energy), 11 (sustainable cities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 15 (life on land).  

This forum will bring together member states, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community, and United Nations entities. It aims to facilitate interactions, networks and partnerships to identify and examine needs and gaps in technologies, scientific cooperation, innovation and capacity-building to support the SDGs. We believe it is critical that the global geoscience community is represented, and will therefore attend and ensure a clear voice for geoscience at the heart of global development decision-making.

The natural environment is a key pillar of sustainable development. Research, innovation and improved communication and use of geological science (or ‘geoscience’) is therefore essential to delivering sustainable and resilient societies. For example,

  • Mapping and Understanding the Sub-Surface. In a sustainable and resilient society, interactions between the surface and sub-surface are understood and integrated into urban planning to ensure that development is safe, hazards are mitigated against, and environmental impact is minimised. Geological maps, geophysical surveys, and the integration of geoscience data to develop ground models can generate an understanding of the sub-surface and support effective urban planning.
  • Resource Management. In a sustainable and resilient society, everyone has sufficient and reliable access to energy, clean water, and the materials required for sustainable, resilient cities. This requires the identification and careful management of natural resources, including water, minerals, and building aggregates. The transition to renewable energies, such as solar panels and wind turbines, and electric transport will require a wide range of minerals, such as cadmium, lithium, molybdenum, selenium, and tellurium, as well as rare earth elements.
  • Waste Management. In a sustainable and resilient society, less pollutants are generated, and those that are generated are better managed to reduce the environmental impact of society. Pollutants can take many forms, and these can impact both the surface and sub-surface. For example, while mining may be necessary to supply the materials needed for green technologies, this can generate large amounts of waste which needs to be managed carefully to avoid chemicals leaching into groundwater.
  • Reducing Disaster Risk. In a sustainable and resilient society, the focus is on reducing risk (and preventing disasters), rather than accepting or increasing risk (and responding to disasters). Resilient communities, water supplies, energy infrastructure, and terrestrial ecosystems require effective disaster risk reduction. Research on the processes and potential impacts of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, landslides, subsidence, and other geological hazards can help stakeholders to understand and reduce risk.

Sustainable and resilient societies, therefore, depend on access to geoscience information and the expertise to interpret this, as well as meaningful engagement by the geoscience community. The networks and partnerships being developed at the UN next week, to identify how scientific cooperation and innovation can support the SDGs, need to include geoscientists working across a broad array of specialisms.

Since the SDGs were agreed in 2015, we have been at the forefront of mobilising and equipping the geological science community to engage and help deliver this vision. We are proud to continue our international leadership on this topic, and will be a champion of the geosciences next week at the UN Headquarters.

Follow updates on Twitter – #GfGDatUNHQ

Read more about this event: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/18157Forum_Concept_Note_April_26_draft.pdf

Read more about Geology and the Sustainable Development Goals: http://www.episodes.org/view/1835

Photo Highlights – 5th GfGD Annual Conference

Kindly hosted and supported by the Geological Society of London, our 5th Annual Conference had the theme “Cities – Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Development”. The event gathered more than 130 participants, with diverse speakers from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society! Find resources online . Thanks to Jesse Zondervan (Plymouth University) for taking and editing photographs.

 

GfGD Annual Conference 2017 – Cities and Sustainable Development

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

Since the Sustainable Development Goals were agreed in 2015, Geology for Global Development has been at the forefront of mobilising and equipping the geoscience community to engage and make a positive contribution.

In 2015, we organised the first major gathering of geologists/Earth scientists anywhere in the world to explore our role in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over 120 geologists came together to consider how our science and skills can help ensure the successful achievement of these 17 ambitious goals, aiming to end global poverty, fight injustice and inequality, and ensure environmental sustainability by 2030. Our 2016 conference had the themes of ‘best practice’ and ‘personal engagement’. We explored the skills and topical understanding required to deliver high quality, high-impact development projects, and practical projects and opportunities to get involved and help achieve the SDGs.

This Friday we hold our 5th Annual Conference, turning our attention to cities and considering the role of geoscience in realising the SDGs in urban environments. There are unique opportunities presented by cities, as well as significant challenges associated with urban development.

Over the past 12 months I have had the opportunity to visit culturally and economically significant cities across three continents, with notable visits to cities in eastern and southern Africa – Nairobi, Kampala, Lusaka and Dar es Salaam. These cities are growing, rapidly. Dar es Salaam is the third fastest growing city in Africa, with some projections suggesting that it will be one of the 20 largest cities (by population) by the middle of this century.

The United Nations note that:

“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.”

But what do cities ‘at their best’ look like? How does (or perhaps, how should) geoscience inform urban planning, development, and resilience? What are the primary successes and mistakes of past and current urban development that could support Dar es Salaam and other future megacities? These are some of the questions we’ll be exploring at our conference, with the aim of catalysing ideas for urban geoscience research, innovation and training tools.

Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) – September 2017

The geoscience community have a significant responsibility and exciting opportunity to work with other disciplines to promote sustainable cities and strong stewardship of the Earth. Our conference will bring together ambassadors from multiple diverse disciplines and sectors, together with 140+ geoscientists, to explore these themes and better understand our role in urban development that strengthens society and best serves future generations.

Limited tickets remain (available here), and you can follow the conference on Twitter using #GfGDConf.

New Paper: Geoscience Engagement in Global Development Frameworks

We have recently contributed to a new open access article included in a special volume coordinated by the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG)This article, synthesises the role of geoscientists in the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and discusses ways in which we can increase our engagement in the promotion, implementation and monitoring of these key global frameworks.

Abstract: During 2015, the international community agreed three socio-environmental global development frameworks, the: (i) Sustainable Development Goals; (ii) Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and (iii) Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Each corresponds to important interactions between environmental processes and society. Here we synthesise the role of geoscientists in the delivery of each framework, and explore the meaning of and justification for increased geoscience engagement (active participation). We first demonstrate that geoscience is fundamental to successfully achieving the objectives of each framework. We characterise four types of geoscience engagement (framework design, promotion, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation), with examples within the scope of the geoscience community. In the context of this characterisation, we discuss: (i) our ethical responsibility to engage with these frameworks, noting the emphasis on societal cooperation within the Cape Town Statement on Geoethics; and (ii) the need for increased and higher quality engagement, including an improved understanding of the science-policy-practice interface. Facilitating increased engagement is necessary if we are to maximise geoscience’s positive impact on global development.

PDF (open access) here: http://www.annalsofgeophysics.eu/index.php/annals/article/view/7460/