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YE-S to Planet Earth!

Young Earth scientists - and Executive Secretary Edmund Nickless (left) - gather in Beijing

The Young Earth Scientists’ (YES) Congress was held in Beijing in October 2009, bringing together the geologists, policy makers and politicians of the future. Joanne Venus describes the event and collects reactions from delegates.

Geoscientist 20.02 February 2010

The first ever International Congress for Young Earth-Scientists was held in Beijing from 25 to 28 October 2009 and was organised by the YES international network. This Congress was the culmination of over two years’ work and planning; but it was not the end of YES. The Congress was merely the launch-pad for the YES Network.

But why should you care, and is YES really relevant to all sectors and all stages of careers for Earth scientists? The YES project was conceived over two years ago by two members of the Italian Geological Society Young Section (David Govoni and Luca Miccuci). Its main aim has been to bring together early career geoscientists from around the world to discuss common themes, and to promote communication between geoscientists and policy makers. Similar types of organisations were already emerging in various countries, including the Young Geoscientists Group in the UK. Currently we have an International Committee of over 30 people and a mailing list of well over 500 from all over the world. There were 380 attendees at the Beijing Congress, of which over 180 were non-Chinese.

But why a special conference for young Earth scientists? I will try to answer this with another question. Have you ever sat - in a conference hall, meeting or in your office - and wondered where all the young geoscientists are? The YES network not only tries to further research and communication within the scientific community, but is reaching out into the wider community - to prove that we can communicate in jargon-free language with those of our age group from different disciplines, but who will need to work together in future to mitigate urgent world problems like climate change.

YES is the first ever network of early-career scientists that is truly international – and is made even more special by the fact that it was started by younger geoscientists, for younger geoscientists! We have formed at a time of rapid advances in technology and we aim to make the use of all of these. We have a full online presence and also stream our events live via Webinar (hosted by AGI).

What happened?

The Congress was held from the 25-28 October at the China University of Geosciences (Beijing). Policy makers were also in attendance, which enabled YES to begin to work towards better external communication from geosciences to policy makers and general audiences. The event was broadly split into two halves, the first comprising oral and poster sessions, and the second “roundtable” sessions, centred on eight of the themes of the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE).

The oral and poster sessions followed a traditional format. The roundtable sessions ran on the following main topics: Polar Region Climate Change; Energy and Natural Resources; Natural Hazards; Industry-Academic Linkages; Issues in Geoscience Education; International Licensure; Women in Geosciences; Synthesis and Strategy.

These sessions were unique in that combinations of senior and early career speakers were invited to present for the first part of each session, followed by discussion. Speakers, moderators and audience then participated in working groups to discuss the main questions raised. Working groups were tasked with generating not only an interesting debate, but also a strategy proposal for the future. These sessions were streamed live (audio) via Webinar, which allowed “virtual” participants not only to listen, but to ask questions - making the session truly accessible to those unable to travel to China.

Representatives from the YES team later attended the IYPE Planet Earth closing event in Lisbon (18 -22 November) which provided a fantastic opportunity to present the YES project to students from all IYPE countries. The next YES Congress will be held in Brisbane, Australia, in 2012 in conjunction with the 34th IGC. But we will not be resting on our laurels in the meantime! We have an active online presence, so please join us for an online discussion! We also plan to run roundtable sessions at most major geoscience conferences, topics for which will be related to the conference but with a specific “YES” spin. These will be widely advertised in advance via our mailing lists, website and also through the conference websites. All roundtables will be virtualised so that anyone anywhere may attend and participate live.

Want to get involved?

You can participate at any level you like, from following us online to becoming an active member of the YES team. I have been involved, actively, for nearly two years now and, while it has been extremely hard work, I have learnt about things that I never thought existed and every second has been worth it. I am not only extremely proud and happy with the Network that we, as a team, are generating, but I have met some truly fantastic and inspirational people along the way.

If you have any questions about the YES network you can email the whole YES organisational team on [email protected]. We can be found on the web at:;

Of course we have a Facebook page: search for “First World Young Earth Scientists (YES) Congress 2009” or for “Young Geoscientists Group” (UK Based).

To apply to join the evolving YES network as YES Network Leaders, go HERE