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The Role of Geosciences in International Development

November 21, 2018

The Geological November Public Lecture: The Role of Geosciences in International Development

Speaker: Martin Smith, British Geological Survey

Lecture Information

When you think of a geologist overseas is it one of an intrepid explorer traversing the mountains, jungles and deserts of the world in pursuit of mineral riches, water and hydrocarbons? In the past maybe, but todays geoscientist is often remotely connected, IT literate and increasingly focussed on issues of sustainability and resilience.

Following on from the Millennium Goals many countries around the world, including the UK, are signed up to a series of major global initiatives; the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; the UNISDR Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN-Habitat agenda and the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The UK is one of 6 countries that has met and sustained a commitment to direct 0.7% (c. £13.4bn in 2016) of our Gross National Income (GNI) to International Development and traditionally, this has been delivered via the Department for International Development (DFID). But to meet these new global agreements DFID funding streams are also now re-directed through an Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme that will use expertise to help grow and effectively target the UK research base to developmental need.

These initiatives, with deadlines extending up to 2030 thus present an opportunity to link our geoscience to the impacts on communities and their environment and to integrate with human, social and economic sciences to address complex multi-faceted problems.

Using a number of examples from past and present BGS projects covering water, soils, minerals and cities this talk considers how geoscience can contribute to these development opportunities. How do we integrate and tackle complex problems and support the UKs high standards of aid transparency, detail and accountability? It no longer sufficient to explore, record and detail the resource or hazard – we need to demonstrate our research has impact and sustainable long term capacity building that truly makes a difference.

Dr Martin Smith MBE is the Science Director for Global Geoscience at the British Geological Survey (BGS). As a career survey geologist he has extensive experience in UK and African geology, in the implementation of digital and 3D modelling systems and in providing expert technical advice on subsurface geology for major infrastructure projects. Since 2013 he has been currently engaged in developing BGS expertise internationally and currently leads the BGS Official Development Assistance and DFID programmes which currently operate across more than 13 countries worldwide.

Lecture Details

The lecture will be given twice on the same day, once at 3pm and once at 6pm.

The Geological Society Public Lecture Programme is now be listed on

Matinee Lecture – Book your Ticket(s) here
14.30 Tea and coffee served in the lower library
15.00 Lecture
15.45 Questions and answers
16.00 Lecture ends and guests depart

Evening Lecture – Book your Ticket(s) here
17.30 Tea and coffee served in the lower library
18.00 Lecture begins
18.45 Questions and answers
19.00 Lecture ends and there is a short drinks reception in the lower library
20.00 Close

Please note:
• There will be no entry into Burlington House before the registrations open at 2.30pm and 5.30pm.
• You DO NOT need to print your tickets as there will be a list of names on the registration desk


November 21, 2018


The Geological Society
Burlington House, Piccadilly
London, W1J 0BH United Kingdom
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