Image: Markus Spiske/Unsplash
Following the UN conference on biodiversity and ahead of COP26 this November, the Society, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the International Geographical Union convened a meeting of almost all the world’s geographical bodies in June this year, resulting in an ambitious joint statement filled with self-challenge for the signatories.
The declaration, signed by 79 global geographical societies and organisations from 58 countries, highlights the importance of geography and geographers in the unique opportunities and responsibilities they hold in the face of the global climate and biodiversity crises. It also calls on world leaders to place the protection of nature and a liveable climate at the centre of the world’s economics and politics and highlights the global geography community’s pledge to redouble its efforts to help deliver a better tomorrow.
Director of the Society, Professor Joe Smith, said, “A good portion of achieving a more sustainable world will be a case of learning by doing; of challenging and encouraging each other. Geographical societies are no exception, and we need to be bold in our ambitions, and to challenge ourselves and each other, and to share and support our learning. This year’s gathering of the world’s geographical bodies, convened by the RSGS, in partnership with the Society and the International Geographical Union, and the joint statement that came out of it, is just one step in that process.”
You can read the full declaration below.
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.
Endorsed by the following 79 organisations representing 58 countries:
1. National Geographic Society
2. American Geographical Society
3. American Association of Geographers
4. Institute of Australian Geographers
5. Queensland Royal Geographical Society
6. National Committee for Geographical Sciences of the Australian Academy of Science
7. Bangladesh National Geographical Association
8. Royal Geographical Society of Belgium
9. Benin Association of Geographers
10. National Association of Postgraduates and Researchers in Geography (ANPEGE)
11. Association of Brazilian Geographers
12. Canadian Association of Geographers
13. Royal Canadian Geographical Society
14. Geographical Society of China
15. Hong Kong Geographical Association
16. Geography and Education Research Association of Macau
17. The Geographic Society of China located in Taipei
18. National Committee for Geography (Columbia),
19. Croatian Geographical Society
20. Cyprus Geographical Association
21. Czech Geographical Society
22. European Association of Geographers
23. Geographical Society of Finland
24. National Geographical Society of France
25. Geographical Society of Georgia
26. German Society of Geography
27. Association for Geography at German Universities and Research Institutions
28. Hungarian Geographical Society
29. Association of Bengal Geographers
30. The Association for Geographical Studies (Delhi)
31. Indian National Committee for IGU
32. National Association of Geographers (India)
33. Indonesian Geographical Association
34. Geographical Society of Ireland
35. Israeli Geographical Association
36. Italian Geographical Society
37. International Geographical Union
38. Association of Japanese Geographers
39. Human Geography Society of Japan
40. Japan Organization of Geographical Sciences
41. Geographic Society of Kenya
42. Korean Geographical Society
43. Luxembourg Geographical Society
44. Geographical Society of Madagascar
45. Mexican Society of Geography and Statistics
46. Geographical Association of Myanmar
47. Namibian National Committee for IGU
48. Royal Dutch Geographical Society
49. New Zealand Geographical Society
50. Association of Nigerian Geographers
51. Norwegian Geographical Society
52. Pakistan Geographical Association
53. Philippines Geographical Society
54. Polish Geographical Society
55. Portuguese Association of Geographers
56. Romanian Geographical Society
57. Russian Geographical Society
58. Russian National Committee for International Program "Future Earth"
59. Russian National Committee for IGU
60. Royal Scottish Geographical Society
61. Samoa Association of Geographers
62. Saudi Geographical Society
63. Slovenian Geographical Association
64. Slovak National Committee for the IGU
65. Society of South African Geographers
66. Southern African Geography Teachers' Association
67. Geographical Association of Spain
68. Centre of Geographical Studies (Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning) University of Lisbon
69. Sri Lankan Association of Geographers
70. Swedish National Committee of Geography
71. Swiss Association of Geography
72. Swiss National Committee for the IGU
73. Turkish Geographical Society
74. Uganda Geographical Association
75. Ukrainian Association of Geographers
76. The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
77. Geographical Association
78. University of Cambridge, Department of Geography
79. Vietnamese Association of Geographers
Congratulations to our Fellows who were recently awarded Chartered Geographer status by our Council.
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