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GfGD Annual Conference 2017

The 5th GfGD Annual Conference will take place on Friday 3 November 2017, kindly hosted and supported by the Geological Society of London (Burlington House, London). 

THEME: "Cities: Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Development"

Urbanisation is a development mega-trend, associated with both major challenges but also significant opportunities for delivering the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (e.g., SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities; SDG 6 – Universal Access to Water and Sanitation).

“More than half of the world’s population now live in urban areas. By 2050, that figure will have risen to 6.5 billion people – two-thirds of all humanity. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces.” [UNDP]

“Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically.” [UN]

This conference, aimed at geoscientists at all stages of their careers (from students to experienced professionals), will again seek to draw on the expertise of both geoscience and development professionals working across diverse sectors. We’ll be exploring themes such as the sustainable resourcing of cities and resilient cities, with a particular focus on the Global South.


Session 1: Cities and Sustainable Development
These scene-setting talks will set the context for the rest of the conference, with current thinking on future urbanisation, why this is significant for sustainable development (opportunities and challenges), and the relevance of geoscience.
  • Cities and Sustainable Development (Habitat III - A New Urban Agenda)
  • Cities – Why Geoscience Matters? Stephanie Bricker (Team Leader for Urban Geoscience, British Geological Survey)
Session 2: Resourcing Future Cities (Presentations and Discussion)
Sustainable cities will need to adopt innovative approaches to identifying and managing diverse resources. Cities require energy, water, minerals, infrastructure (e.g., waste management) and food. This session will start with a set of short talks exploring sustainability issues for critical resources, followed by discussion on the integrated approach required for effective urban planning.
  • CHAIR: Carla-Leanne Washbourne (Lecturer in Environmental Science and Policy, University College London)
  • "Underground Space as a Resource" - Elizabeth Reynolds (Director, Urben)
Session 3: Resilience to Environmental Shocks in Cities (Panel Discussion)
Sustainable cities need to integrate disaster risk reduction (DRR) into their development strategies, ensuring resilience to environmental shocks (e.g., earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions). This session will draw on diverse expertise to explore the specific challenges of DRR in urban contexts, and the approaches, research gaps and careers that geoscientists can pursue to help address these challenges.
  • CHAIR: Faith Taylor (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Urban ARK, King's College London)
  • Matthew Free (Director, Infrastructure, Arup)
  • Lucy Stanbrough (Executive, Emerging Risks and Research, Innovation Team, Lloyds)
Session 4: Lessons from Global Cities (Micro-Presentations)
This session provides an opportunity to reflect on technologies and approaches from around the world, as well as learning from diverse research. We will welcome contributions from international conference participants, as well as those who have conducted research on cities beyond the UK/Western Europe. Micro-presentations will draw on case studies, literature, personal experience or field visits. Those based on research (rather than personal experience) can share the conclusions of complete projects or present a taster of ongoing work.

Register your interest in giving a ‘micro-presentation’:

  • CHAIR: Lucy Tyack (Postgraduate Student, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London)
  • Bárbara Zambelli Azevedo (City of Interest: Ouro Preto, Brazil)
  • Joshua Jones (City of Interest: Tianshui City, Gansu Province, China)
  • Wild Bottomley (City of Interest: Los Angeles, USA)
Session 5: What will future cities look like and what is the role of geologists in their development? (Visioning Discussion)
This session will use a ‘visioning’ technique to explore the characteristics of successful and sustainable cities. We will then work backwards to explore what this means for our subject, and how we could adapt to help realise this vision. This approach will result in a positive vision for our cities (reflecting our learning from the day) and a set of objectives for the geoscience community relating to our training, research priorities and practice.
  • Stephanie Bricker (Team Leader for Urban Geoscience, British Geological Survey)
  • Carla-Leanne Washbourne (Lecturer in Environmental Science and Policy, University College London)
  • Matthew Free (Director, Infrastructure, Arup)
Session 6: GfGD Annual Report – Expanding and Enhancing our Work to Deliver Sustainable Development
  • Joel Gill (Executive Director, Geology for Global Development)
Further speaker information will be published soon.


Registration is now open - get your tickets online here >>


  • Registration opens at 9.45am, with the conference expecting to start promptly at 10.20am. Please try not to arrive before 9.45am as the team will be busy setting up. 
  • Formal talks/discussion will end at 5.30pm, followed by informal drinks/networking (finishing by 7pm).