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Following the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and in advance of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at Glasgow, (COP26) in November, 79 international geographical societies or organisations, including the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), have issued the following joint statement:

Geographers have unique opportunities and responsibilities in the face of the global biodiversity and climate crises. Geography is a discipline that is uniquely located at the intersection of the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. This equips geographers to be adept systems-thinkers and interdisciplinarians. It is furthermore an applied knowledge, focused above all on the state of our planet and our relationships with it. All of this makes the learning, teaching, and practice of geography centrally relevant to the closely linked challenges of the global climate and biodiversity crises.

Geographers can do much more than present an analysis of these challenges. They also have a vantage point from which they can point to the kinds of thought and action that can deliver a better tomorrow for every person on Earth.

This coming October and November will see some of the most consequential weeks in terms of humanity’s collective relationship with planet Earth. In October the world’s governments will come together to confront the continuing dramatic loss of species and their habitats—the biodiversity crisis—compounded as it is by the accumulating impacts of climate change. It is hoped that the meeting will set the stage for ambitious new targets for the global conservation of nature out to 2030.

Around the same time, in Milan, Italy and then, for two weeks in November, in Glasgow, Scotland, governments will reconvene to confront the existential challenge of climate change. It is widely hoped and expected that the meeting will set enhanced and more urgent reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions out to 2030, as well as mandating a critical role for nature in climate change mitigation and adaption.

Geographers, whether as students, researchers, educators, writers, explorers, practitioners in business or policy, or as engaged and curious travellers, encourage our leaders to make ambitious commitments to place the protection of nature and a liveable climate at the centre of the world’s economics and politics at this critical juncture.

Accordingly, we pledge that our institutions will redouble our efforts to apply the unique attributes that are the hallmark of the learning, teaching, and practice of geography to the global environmental challenges that have drawn together the world’s governments to these vital meetings this year. We commit to doing all that we can to apply geography’s potent capabilities to the task of making the coming decade one of hope and of positive action.

President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Nigel Clifford, said: “In a year which sees two critical international political milestones in the form of the UN convened meetings on biodiversity and climate, the Society has committed not only to address our own organisational environmental impact and actions, but also to reinvigorate how we communicate the role of geography and geographers in helping the world to meet the grand challenges of our time.

Through Geographical magazine, our lectures and wider events programme, our journals, research working groups and international academic conference, and educational resources, the Society is well placed to make a broad and deep impact – vital for the years to come – on policy and public engagement by providing impartial information on climate change, biodiversity and sustainability issues.”




Notes to editor

  • For further media enquiries, please contact the Society’s Press Officer, Lucy Preston, on +44 (0)77 1478 3126 or  

  • The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830, our Royal Charter of 1859 is for 'the advancement of geographical science'. Today, we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’.

  • Signatories to the Declaration: National Geographic Society, American Geographical Society, American Association of Geographers, Institute of Australian Geographers, Queensland Royal Geographical Society, National Committee for Geographical Sciences of the Australian Academy of Science, Bangladesh National Geographical Association, Royal Geographical Society of Belgium, Benin Association of Geographers, National Association of Postgraduates and Researchers in Geography (ANPEGE), Association of Brazilian Geographers, Canadian Association of Geographers, Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Geographical Society of China, Hong Kong Geographical Association, Geography and Education Research Association of Macau, The Geographic Society of China located in Taipei, National Committee for Geography (Columbia), Croatian Geographical Society, Cyprus Geographical Association, Czech Geographical Society, European Association of Geographers, Geographical Society of Finland, National Geographical Society of France, Geographical Society of Georgia, German Society of Geography, Association for Geography at German Universities and Research Institutions, Hungarian Geographical Society, Association of Bengal Geographers, The Association for Geographical Studies (Delhi), Indian National Committee for IGU, National Association of Geographers (India), Indonesian Geographical Association, Geographical Society of Ireland, Israeli Geographical Association, Italian Geographical Society, International Geographical Union, Association of Japanese Geographers, Human Geography Society of Japan, Japan Organization of Geographical Sciences, Geographic Society of Kenya, Korean Geographical Society, Luxembourg Geographical Society, Geographical Society of Madagascar, Mexican Society of Geography and Statistics, Geographical Association of Myanmar, Namibian National Committee for IGU, Royal Dutch Geographical Society, New Zealand Geographical Society, Association of Nigerian Geographers, Norwegian Geographical Society, Pakistan Geographical Association, Philippines Geographical Society, Polish Geographical Society, Portuguese Association of Geographers, Romanian Geographical Society, Russian Geographical Society, Russian National Committee for International Program "Future Earth," Russian National Committee for IGU, Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Samoa Association of Geographers, Saudi Geographical Society, Slovenian Geographical Association, Slovak National Committee for the IGU, Society of South African Geographers, Southern African Geography Teachers' Association, Geographical Association of Spain, Centre of Geographical Studies (Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning) University of Lisbon, Sri Lankan Association of Geographers, Swedish National Committee of Geography, Swiss Association of Geography, Swiss National Committee for the IGU, Turkish Geographical Society, Uganda Geographical Association, Ukrainian Association of Geographers, The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Geographical Association, University of Cambridge, Department of Geography, and the Vietnamese Association of Geographers.

  • Social media hashtag: #Geo4Earth