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GfGD Annual Conference 2013

In October 2013 we hosted our first National Conference, hosted by the Geological Society and 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.

The conference was opened by Jeremy Lefroy MP - who spoke of a recent conversation he'd had with a Minister in Sierra Leone. When the Minister was asked by Jeremy what they most needed to support their development, his reply was 'geologists.' Jeremy encouraged us in our goal to contribute to development - reminding us that we have a valuable role to play.

Throughout the rest of the morning we heard from professionals working in industry, academia and NGOs about the different ways in which geologists can contribute to development - including disaster risk reduction, water and sanitation, engineering geology and natural resource management. In the afternoon the focus shifted to explore effective communication for effective development - with a strong call to invest now in building good communication skills so that we can better operate in the multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder environment of international development.

As keynote speaker we were delighted to welcome Dr Martin Smith (Director of Global Geoscience at the British Geological Survey). Martin spoke of the tools being used to support urban development and subsurface management in the developed world - and the potential for low-cost versions of these to be used in places such as Nairobi (Kenya). The power of the mobile phone as a tool to collect data was also discussed, given their widespread distribution across the developing world.

We were also very pleased to present David Litchfield, Robin Wylie and Philip Irwin with their 2013 Blog Competition prizes - and hear a short presentation by Robin based on his winning blog. A number of posters were brought to the event - and our panel of judges awarded the Best Poster prize to Dawn Brooks for her poster on water management in Bangladesh. Congratulations also to Ekbal Hussain for his highly commended poster.