SoSRare at the Geology for Global Development conference

Joel Gill opening the Geology for Global Development conference. Photo Copyright Robert Pell

The annual Geology for Global Development (GfGD) conference took place on the 4th November at Burlington House, the home of the Geological Society. The conference explored topics from sustainable mining to solar energy, and seismic risk in the one day charity run event.

Joel Gill, the founder of GfGD started by highlighting what the Sustainable Development Goals mean to geologists, and how all disciplines can be involved in solving some of today's grandest challenges. The days was separated into subtopics discussing geoscience and development, solving issues for earthquake relief, solar power to encourage enterprise in India, and best practice for small scale water projects in Tanzania.

Robert Pell and Milly Owens from SoSRare were asked to form part of a panel on Mining and the SDG. The session aimed to explore the role of exploration and development in delivering the SDGs. The panel included Edmund Nickless, Chair of the IUGS New Activities Strategic Implementation Committee and Anne Lindsay, Lead Analyst the CAFOD. Robert and Milly represented the young researchers perspective to tackling some of the technical issues associated with mining and the SDGs.

A short presentation by each of the panel members was followed by questions from the audience. Milly presented on the technical aspects of froth flotation as well as its importance for sustainable development. Robert identified the need to quantify environmental costs for mining and processing of rare earth and other minerals, highlighting that this area often gets overlooked or simplified when considering low carbon technologies.

The presentations were well received and followed by a number of questions on the challenges around rare earth recycling, following onto issues with current product designs limiting the recycling options. It was also highlighted that social aspects of production should be considered alongside environmental quantities.

The Keynote Lecture was carried out by Prof Iain Stewart. He discussed the ethical dimension of transdisciplinary approaches in seismic risk. He raised the question of where geologists should fit into the picture; should they only report the information, or should they be involved in decision making at policy level?

Robert Pell, November 2016


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