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Public Lecture: The role of geosciences in International Development

21 November 2018
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Event type:
Evening meeting, Lecture
Organised by:
2018 Year of Resources, Geological Society Events
The Geological Society, Burlington House
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When you think of a geologist overseas is it one of an intrepid explorer traversing the mountains, jungles and deserts of the world in pursuit of mineral riches, water and hydrocarbons? In the past maybe, but todays geoscientist is often remotely connected, IT literate and increasingly focussed on issues of sustainability and resilience.

Following on from the Millennium Goals many countries around the world, including the UK, are signed up to a series of major global initiatives; the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; the UNISDR Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN-Habitat agenda and the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The UK is one of 6 countries that has met and sustained a commitment to direct 0.7% (c. £13.4bn in 2016) of our Gross National Income (GNI) to International Development and traditionally, this has been delivered via the Department for International Development (DFID). But to meet these new global agreements DFID funding streams are also now re-directed through an Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme that will use expertise to help grow and effectively target the UK research base to developmental need.

These initiatives, with deadlines extending up to 2030 thus present an opportunity to link our geoscience to the impacts on communities and their environment and to integrate with human, social and economic sciences to address complex multi-faceted problems.

Using a number of examples from past and present BGS projects covering water, soils, minerals and cities this talk considers how geoscience can contribute to these development opportunities. How do we integrate and tackle complex problems and support the UKs high standards of aid transparency, detail and accountability? It no longer sufficient to explore, record and detail the resource or hazard – we need to demonstrate our research has impact and sustainable long term capacity building that truly makes a difference. 


Martin Smith, BGS

Dr Martin Smith MBE is the Science Director for Global Geoscience at the British Geological Survey (BGS). As a career survey geologist he has extensive experience in UK and African geology, in the implementation of digital and 3D modelling systems and in providing expert technical advice on subsurface geology for major infrastructure projects. 

Since 2013 he has been currently engaged in developing BGS expertise internationally and currently leads the BGS Official Development Assistance and DFID programmes which currently operate across more than 13 countries worldwide. 

All past lectures can be viewed online on our Past Meeting Resources Page.

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