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Geological Society publishes joint briefing note on Geology and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

10 December 2018

The Geological Society of London (GSL) has published a joint briefing note with the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Geology for Global Development (GfGD), outlining the ways in which geologists are key to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Adopted by world leaders at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015, the SDGs are an ambitious set of 17 goals that aim to eradicate poverty, ensure universal access to basic services, tackle inequality, end unsustainable consumption patterns and facilitate inclusive economic growth, social development and environmental protection.

Martin Smith, Science Director, BGS Global, said:

“The 2015 UN Global Initiatives including the Sustainable Development Goals are a call to all geoscientists to act and develop our research for the benefit of lives and livelihoods everywhere. Growing our geoscience to tackle development issues is an exciting challenge requiring new partnerships and integrated research. This briefing note is a valuable first step in the discussion on how and where geology can make a difference.”

The briefing note includes a matrix showing the 17 SDGs alongside 11 different areas of geological science, demonstrating that there is a role for geological science and/or a need for action by geological sectors in all of the SDGs. It also outlines selected case studies of geoscience engagement in the SDGs which have taken place so far.

Dr Joel C. Gill, International Development Geoscientist, British Geological Survey and Executive Director, Geology for Global Development, said:

“Ensuring universal access to clean water, increasing agricultural productivity, transitioning to clean energy, developing sustainable urban environments, protecting land and marine environments, tackling climate change, and reducing risk from disasters all require an understanding of natural resources (e.g., water, minerals, and soils) and/or Earth system science. By demonstrating the diverse range of ways that geoscientists can help deliver the SDGs, we hope to catalyse engagement of the geoscience community in sustainable development discussions and decision making.”


1. The statement can be read on the Geological Society’s website at 

2. The Geological Society of London, founded 1807, is a learned and professional body of over 12,000 Earth scientists with a remit to investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence. The Society offers advice to Parliament and Government, at individual and corporate levels. Registered Charity No. 210161. 

3. The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a world leading applied geoscience research centre that is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and affiliated to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). BGS core science provides objective and authoritative geoscientific data, information and knowledge to inform UK Government on the opportunities and challenges of the subsurface. It undertakes national and public good research to understand earth and environmental processes in the UK and globally. The BGS annual budget of approximately £60 million pa is funded directly by UKRI, as well as research grants, government commissions and private sector contracts. Its 650 staff work across the UK with two main sites, the head office in Nottingham and Lyell Centre, a joint collaboration with Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. BGS works with more than 150 private sector organisations, has close links to 40 universities and sponsors about 100 PhD students each year. Please see 

4. Geology for Global Development exists to champion the role of geology in sustainable development, mobilising and reshaping the geology community to help deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Registered Charity Number: 1165663. 

5. Contacts: 
The Geological Society: 
Sarah Day 
T: 0207 432 0954 

To arrange interviews, please contact: 
Clive Mitchell, British Geological Survey Press Office, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG 
Office +44 (0)115 936 3257 Mobile: + 44 (0)7815 537 439 
Email: Twitter @CliveBGS 

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