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EGU Debate 2020: 'Managing our mineral resources for a sustainable future: The role of Earth Scientists'

EGU Debate 2020: 'Managing our mineral resources for a sustainable future: The role of Earth Scientists'

EGU 2020 Great Debate
Published:

​A great debate.

The annual European Geological Union (EGU) General Assembly usually brings 16,000 attendees to Vienna for one of the largest geoscience meetings in the world. This year it moved online for EGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online from 4 – 8 May. Geological Survey Ireland participated in a number of sessions,

One of the key events was a Great Debate organised by Geological Survey Ireland Research Manager Dr Aoife Braiden. The topic was Managing our mineral resources for a sustainable future: The role of Earth Scientists. The guest panellists in this debate were from industry, academia, European minerals organisations and NGOs and it aimed to generate open discussion about our natural resources and the role of Earth Scientists in achieving a more sustainable future.

The United Nations has widely promoted the Sustainable Development Goals, 17 common goals to a sustainable future for our planet and its citizens. By 2030 Europe aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% compared with 1990 levels. But the infrastructure needed to address these and for the transition to a low-carbon society will require the production and consumption of vast amounts of mineral products, not only the much publicised critical metals but also more common mineral products like copper, iron and sand.

In recent years, the circular economy has been lauded as a solution to problems of increased demand on resources and the related climate impacts. Reducing waste and improving efficiencies in the circular economy will be essential. However, given

  • (i) increasing populations and improving living standards globally, particularly in developing nations,
  • (ii) the decades-long duration that many raw materials are in use,
  • (iii) the difficulties and/or environmental impact of recovering and recycling some materials, and
  • (iv) the strain on our energy, land and water resources, it is time to define the role of the geoscience community in managing Earth resources and achieving a more sustainable future. 

You can now view the debate online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZlB_4jYzH0