• 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.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    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 .

Global environmental change and sustainable development: needs of least developed countries

Topic leader
Pauline Dube

The “Least Developed Countries” (LDCs) constitute a group of countries that are highly susceptible to external economic shocks, natural and manmade disasters, and that suffer from structural handicaps that require special international attention. The focus of this synthesis is on these countries, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific region.  LDCs face myriad problems such as extreme poverty, immense pressure on land and natural resources and a lack of integration into global markets. As efforts to alleviate poverty and build infrastructure naturally dominate the agenda of these nations, environmental concerns tend to be put on the back burner. However, in the medium to long term, environmental changes caused partly by a changing climate are likely to become severe, and there is a danger that the LDCs will be unprepared: the consequences of such a scenario are likely to be global.

There is a need, therefore, to comprehensively assess the socioeconomic consequences of global environmental change and the responses to such changes. Moreover, such an assessment needs to be cognisant of the existence of rich local knowledge systems – a factor that is often overlooked – and evaluate how such knowledge can be harnessed to face the environmental challenges faced by these countries. Relevant science outputs generated by IGBP, its partners and other international organizations have the potential to contribute towards addressing issues pertinent to LDCs. But such information is usually provided on a broad scale, is fragmented and lacks an immediate local context for policy applications. This IGBP synthesis seeks to integrate scientific findings on global environmental change issues that are pertinent to the policy needs of LDCs, and explore the potential role of indigenous/local/traditional knowledge systems in addressing such issues.


  • Workshop in Maputo, Mozambique (September 2010)
  • Session at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London (March 2012) field surveys and literature analysis in South Asia.
  • Writing workshop (26-30 August 2013, Bangkok, Thailand) supported by the Asia Pacific Network.

Bangkok workshop report (APN)

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

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