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GfGD Annual Conference 2017

Cities - Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Development

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


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), brought together diverse expertise to explore themes such as the sustainable resourcing of cities and resilient cities, with a particular focus on the Global South.

Conference Resources

Session 1: Cities and Sustainable Development

Session 2: Resources and Planning for Future Cities (Presentations and Discussion)

  • Underground Space as a Resource - Elizabeth Reynolds (Director, Urben)
  • Economics and Cities - Caroline Haynes (Partner, Estates and Infrastructure Exchange)

Session 3: Resilience to Environmental Shocks in Cities (Panel Discussion)

  • Matthew Free (Director, Infrastructure, Arup)

Session 4: Lessons from Global Cities (Micro-Presentations)

  • 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)

  • 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)
  • Emily White (Assistant Director, University Groups, Geology for Global Development)