Geoscience in Society
Geology Matters No 8 
Introduction Director's Discourse The Role of Geoscience in Society World Geoscience Conference International Co-operation and Agreements Griffith Geoscience Research Awards 2008 - International Year of Planet Earth GeoUrban Dublin Project New Burren Map IYPE/Du Noyer Competition Launch of INFOMAR Website and Product Range Mapping Potential Landslide Hazards Groundwater Vulnerability Mapping An Intern's Life

The Role of Geoscience in Society

John O’Donoghue

The National Geoscience Programme 2007 – 2013 (Putting our Knowledge of the Earth to Work for Ireland) was agreed between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) in 2007. A seminar was held in Stormont, Belfast on the 19th June, 2008, organised by the RIA in cooperation with the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) to consider how to build a case for additional NDP funding for a second phase of the Programme.

The theme of the meeting was Geoscience: The Foundation of Our Future. The seminar reviewed the current state of geoscience in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Geoscience is essential to underpin the economic development and quality of life of society in such areas as energy supply, carbon capture and storage, protecting the quality of our water supplies and providing comprehensive databases to a wide range of stakeholders.

The meeting was attended by representatives of GSI, GSNI and the British Geological Survey (BGS) and a wide range of public and private sector organisations. It was opened by Professor Peter Mitchell, Science Secretary, RIA and Ms Arlene Foster MLA, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Speakers included Dr Peadar McArdle, Director of GSI, who spoke about the value of geoscience in Ireland and mentioned the recent study of the sector by the CSA Group which was commissioned by GSI. This was the first study of the sector in Ireland and showed that the combined direct and indirect contributions of the geoscience sector was in 2006 worth €4.24 billion (or 3% of GNP) to the economy, considerably higher than earlier thought. Other speakers included Mr Martin Smith, Chief Geologist of BGS in Scotland, who spoke about research and applied geoscience in Scotland, Dr Patrice Christman, Director EuroGeosurveys, who spoke about geoscience in EU policy making and Professor Manuel Regueiro y Gonzalez – Barros, President, European Federation of Geologists, who spoke about geology at the service of the citizens of Europe.

The meeting proved to be very worthwhile and there will a follow up meeting in Dublin in December, 2008. At this seminar it is hoped that a plan for the future of geoscience for the next five years will be agreed, which will identify priorities over the second phase of the National Geoscience Programme, starting in 2010. Areas that might be considered are third-level post-graduate research, solving the current shortage of qualified geologists, promoting the knowledge economy and communicating the value of geoscience to society at large in Ireland and Northern Ireland and how these objectives might be achieved.