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6th GfGD Annual Conference -  Water and Sustainable Development

Friday 2nd November 2018, hosted by the Geological Society of London (Burlington House, London, UK)

Understanding, managing and protecting freshwater and marine water resources is critical to the delivery of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (e.g., water and sanitation, healthy oceans, zero hunger, good health, gender equality, energy, industry, and biodiversity). Increasing urbanisation, industrialisation, and climate change are increasing pressure on water supplies and reducing water quality. This conference explored the role of geoscientists in managing conflicting demands for diverse water resources, ensuring that the needs of the poorest are met while maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Sessions and speakers included...

1. Opening Address - Lord Duncan of Springbank FGS (UK Government Minister for Scotland and Northern Ireland) - BIO

2. Setting the Scene - Water and Sustainable Development
  • Benedicto Hosea (Tanzania Development Trust) - Viewpoints from Tanzania
  • Professor Robert Kalin (Professor of Environmental Engineering for Sustainability, University of Strathclyde) - Water: Geoscience and Societal Relevance from Source to Oceans - BIO
3. Panel Discussion: Conflicting Demands - Integrated Water Management and PolicyUrbanisation, industrialisation, and climate change are all increasing the pressure on water supplies and water quality. This session explored how integrated water management, and coherent policies, can protect water supplies and ensure equitable access to advance economic and social development, meeting the needs of the poorest in society and fostering healthy, diverse ecosystems.
  • Chair: Nic Bilham (University of Exeter/Geology for Global Development)
  • Dr Eva Ludi (Head of the Water Policy Programme, Overseas Development Institute) - BIO
  • Philip Burris (Associate Director of Hydrogeology, Wardell Armstrong International Ltd)
  • Hayley Zipp (Manager – Environmental Stewardship & Social Progress, International Council on Mining and Metals) - BIO
4. Presentations and Discussion: Water Integrity and Pollution - Pathways, Impacts, SolutionsSources of natural and anthropogenic pollution threaten the integrity of water supplies, impacting health and ecosystems. This session profiled the sources, pathways and impacts of different types of pollution, and discusses possible solutions and management techniques.
  • Chair: Dr Alison Parker (Lecturer in International Water and Sanitation, Cranfield Water Science Institute) - BIO
  • Dr Mohammad 'Shams' Shamsudduha (Research Fellow, Water Risks, UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction) - BIO
  • Mike Webster (CEO, Waste Aid) - BIO
  • Dr Pauline Scheelbeek (Assistant Prof. in Nutritional & Environmental Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) - BIO
  • Dr Paul Nathanail (Managing Director - Land Quality Management) - BIO
5. Interview and Discussion: Water in Tanzania – At the Frontline of Water and Sustainable Development. This session explored water and sustainable development in the Biharamulo and Chato districts of NW Tanzania, through the work of the Eleanor Foundation. Topics will include building good partnerships with government, links between water and health/education/ gender equality, challenges in practical development work, and what the future holds for this innovative charity.

Previous Events

  • 5th GfGD Annual Conference - Cities: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Development (London, November 2017): 
    Hosted by the Geological Society of London, this conference explored the role of cities in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals, resourcing cities, integrated planning, and resilient cities, with a particular focus on the Global South. 
  • 4th GfGD Annual Conference - Geology and the Sustainable Development Goals (London, November 2016): The 4th GfGD Annual Conference, hosted by the Geological Society of London, gathered 130+ students and recent graduates from around the UK and beyond to consider our role in the Sustainable Development Goals. The day included talks, discussion groups, panels, and a marketplace of relevant opportunities. 
  • UNISDR Science and Technology Conference on the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015-2030 (
    Geneva, Janaury 2016): 
    This event brought together a diverse selection of the science community (including geologists) to discuss how best to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework, which seeks to substantially reduce disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries. Geology for Global Development was an organising partner, presented a poster on the work we do to engage geologists in disaster risk reduction, and spoke at a side event on the role of early-career scientists in supporting the Sendai Framework. Read more, and access resources from this event.
  • Earthquake Education in Central Asia - Documentary and Discussion in conjunction with Intrepid Explorers (London, October 2015): A viewing of Solmaz Mohadjer's documentary about earthquake education in Tajikistan titled 'Between Bulls and Mosquitoes', with subsequent discussion on travelling and working in this region, communicating earthquake science, and disaster risk reduction. 
    Find out more, and see the documentary.
  • EGU 2015 Splinter Meeting (Vienna, April 2015): An informal discussion on 'Geology and International Development - What is best practice?', with participants sharing their ideas on how to make such work effective, sustainable and safe. Read more about this event here.
  • BGS-GfGD Discussion Event (Keyworth, January 2015):
    We took a group of students to the British Geological Survey (Keyworth, UK) to discuss best practice when operating overseas and building international partnerships. This event involved short presentations from multiple aspects of geology undertaken by the BGS and presentations from students about their experiences.
  • The Lost World of Ladakh (London, October 2014): We were very pleased to co-organise this event with the Geological Society and Nicky and Roger Harman (authors). The evening of talks focused on the history, present and future of Ladakh - with a range of topics discussed including geoeducation, water and disaster risk reduction. The evening also brought together a number of students who had contributed to our Himalayas Hazards Education project. 
  • 2nd GfGD Annual Conference (London, September 2014): The 2nd GfGD Annual Conference, hosted by the Geological Society of London, gathered students and recent graduates from around the UK to (i) learn more about the crucial role that geologists play in international development, (ii) consider the practical skills required to make an effective long-term contribution, and (iii) hear more about our work, as well as the latest ways you can get involved in the fight against global poverty. Speakers were drawn from NGOs (CAFOD and WaterAid), academia, the British Geological Survey and The Geological Society. Read more about this event and download relevant resources here.
  • Cultural Understanding Workshop (Dar es Salaam, August 2014): In August 2014 we attended the YES Congress and Colloquium of African Geology in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Our work was profiled through two presentations and a workshop on ‘Cultural Understanding and Cross-Cultural Communication’. This workshop was attended by young geoscientists from at least seven African countries, including Cameroon, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and Morocco. It explored the importance of understanding culture within development projects. Read more about this event and download relevant resources here.
  • 1st GfGD Annual Conference (London, October 2013): Our first National Conference, hosted by the Geological Society of London, was attended by over 130 people - from across the UK, with some coming from Ireland and continental Europe also. This one-day event brought geology students and recent graduates, with an interest in international development, together with a series of professionals from across the sector. The conference explored the theme of how geologists can contribute to the fight against global poverty, giving a ‘big picture’ overview of the opportunities available and the ways in which geological knowledge can support and enhance sustainable international development. Read more about this event and download relevant resources here.