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The Role of the Geologist in International Development

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Across the world millions of people are living in severe poverty, without access to any of the basic needs that many of us take for granted – a clean water supply, a reliable food source, safe shelter and suitable infrastructure. This lack of basic needs can also mean communities are particularly vulnerable to devastating natural hazards, such as floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and landslides. Geologists have a crucial role to play in supporting communities to overcome poverty. Their knowledge of subjects from hydrogeology, natural resources, engineering geology and geohazards mean they can make a significant contribution to global and sustainable development. Geology for Global Development (GfGD), established in 2011 is working to inspire and support young geologists to think about how they can apply their interdisciplinary knowledge and wide-ranging skills to generate solutions and resources which support NGOs, empower communities and help lift people out of poverty.

This talk will examine the role of geologists within development, drawing from the speaker’s own experience of working on and evaluating water projects in East Africa and his current PhD research into multi-hazard risk analysis. Both of these case studies will examine the importance of both good geoscience and strong communication and social development skills, contributing to effective and sustainable development. The talk will also outline the vision and aims of Geology for Global Development, including how students at the University of Cambridge can get involved in the work we are doing.

This talk is part of the Sedgwick Club talks series.

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