Geoscience and Society Summit

Geoscience and Society Summit: Bridges to Global Health, Resilience and Sustainability

Along with nine other organizations, GPI co-sponsored the Geoscience and Society Summit (GSS), held in Stockholm in March of 2019. The GSS brought together about 70 people from 20 nations to discuss ways to build bridges between geoscientists and others to enhance the contributions of geoscientists in advancing resilience and sustainability worldwide.

The meeting was hosted by the American Geophysical Union, the Bolin Centre for Climate Research, and Geology in the Public Interest, who partnered with the Geological Society of America, the American Geosciences Institute, the Geological Society of London, Geoscientists Without Borders, the International Association for Promoting Geoethics, Geology for Global Development, and the Geology and Environmental Science Department at Wheaton College. The venue was provided by the Bolin Centre at Stockholm University.

The goals of the meeting included:

  • Assessing the role geoscience can play to inform solutions,
  • Facilitating interactions between the science and user communities to advance foundational capability, and
  • Developing processes to improve interdisciplinary engagement and science diplomacy.

Five workshops were held over three days, with the first four advancing discussions toward a final session designed to summarize conclusions and suggest models for the future. Discussions were wide-ranging but there was general agreement on the importance of certain aspects of our work, such as the effectiveness of communication between stakeholders, the need for education about the geosciences and sustainability at all levels (particularly grade school and middle school), the criticality of uniform standards to measure sustainability, and the value of making successful actions scalable.

The final session highlighted the need for new programs to enhance the impact of the geosciences at the grassroots level by 1) combining creative science with effective outreach, 2) increasing local geoscience education within affected communities, 3) reducing barriers to collaboration, and 4) providing pathways to a better understanding and appreciation of the common good. Suggestions included creating a new internet-based platform for collaboration that allows easy participation, reconfiguring the GSS meeting structure to allow it to be hosted at sites in the developing world, and partnering with others in smaller, progressive programs. All these suggestions and more are being acted upon, with the last already resulting in a short course that is planned for the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna in May of 2020.

For further information on the results of the GSS, contact Greg Wessel at gwessel(at)publicgeology.org. If you are interested in helping with future efforts, we would welcome your participation.

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Geoscience for the Public Good and Global Development: Toward a Sustainable Future

Abundant evidence of the importance of geology to sustainable global development can be found in the literature, and one good example is a 2016 Special Paper from the Geological Society of America. In this volume, papers from all over the world describe the importance of geology and geological engineering to human development, and also illustrate the difficulties people face when poverty and associated deficits hamper efforts to deal with dwindling water supplies, exhausted mineral and energy resources, and widespread pollution and contamination.
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