• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences


    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
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    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: May 9, 2008

Scientists agree to enhancing international collaboration towards global sustainability

Press release |
In light of increasing global environmental problems related to climate change, international scientists today committed to an enhanced plan of international collaboration to pursue science that will help achieve sustainable development of common, global resources.
The scientists were attending the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme’s (IGBP) Congress in Cape Town, South Africa on “Sustainable Livelihoods in a Changing Earth System,” which focused on the challenges faced by developing countries due to global environmental change, particularly climate change.

A statement summarizing the scientists’ commitment to a coordinated effort to attain global sustainability notes that the global environmental changes brought on by human activities have already and will continue to have significant, planetary-scale consequences. It emphasizes the seriousness of the impending global environmental crisis, and the urgency of collective action to ameliorate it.

The statement of collaborative action says that the optimal way for society to face challenges such as global climate change, air pollution, and decreases in global biodiversity and food resources is to address the problems all at once instead of one at a time. Solving these problems requires knowledge of how the coupled human-environmental Earth system works that is sufficiently broad and deep to allow scientists to accurately assess the causes of past and current changes and predict future ones. A key goal of the IGBP Congress is to gather cutting-edge global change researchers and science managers to share new knowledge and make important decisions about future research directions in light of both scientific and societal imperatives.

The path to sustainability will be different for different parts of the Earth, as a result of their history and environmental circumstances, say the scientists in their statement. The developing world has the opportunity to attain wellbeing of individual citizens without compromising the integrity of their natural environments. Likewise others, such as the developed world, must find effective ways to contribute to global sustainability. Science has a fundamental role in helping to realize these opportunities, the statement says.

Read the full text of the statement.

The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) is an international, interdisciplinary scientific research program built on networking and integration that studies global environmental change. It addresses scientific questions where an international approach is the best or the only way to provide an answer. It adds value to a large number of individual, national and regional research projects through integrating activities to achieve enhanced scientific understanding. The Vision of IGBP is to provide scientific knowledge to improve the sustainability of the living Earth.

For inquiries, please contact Sofia Roger, IGBP Information Officer, or Mary Ann Williams, IGBP Science Communicator.

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IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

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