Planet Earth is rapidly ageing, and humankind is yet to thrive despite the odds of its complex role shaping the environmental and societal challenges. Science-informed strategic development for constantly reforming and unifying societies’ resilience skills and resources to evolve in such a world is key to harmony and stability at all levels. To this end, there have been several initiatives at the global level led by the United Nations.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. SDGs build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, and among other priorities include several new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

A key part of the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is measured by progress in implementation of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies. This is evidenced in fact by the presence of the 25 targets related to disaster risk reduction in 10 of the 17 SDGs considering the disaster resilience as critical to poverty reduction and key enabler of sustainable development. There is recognition in the proposals for both the SDGs and the Sendai Framework that their desired outcomes are a product of complex and interconnected social and economic processes with overlap across the two agendas. The integration of the two agendas can be very beneficial for building resilience comprehensively across societies. While maintaining the autonomy of each of the post-2015 frameworks, improved coherence of action to implement the different agendas can save money and time, enhance efficiency and further enable adaptation action.

The aim of this symposium is to highlight the role of Geosciences in supporting the 2030 Agenda and beyond. We invite regional and/or national contributions that share insights, tools and demonstrations that build collective intelligence to steer societies towards the shared metrics of the 2030 Agenda and the Sendai Framework. We also welcome lesson learned interdisciplinary studies operating across multiple sectors and scales, ranging from local to global, facilitating (or limiting) policy coherence and contributing to integrated approaches to adaptation, sustainable development and DRR.

Convener: Jonathan RizziECSECS | Co-conveners: Nilay Dogulu, Gabriela Guimarães Nobre, Chiara MarchinaECSECS, Giulia RoderECSECS
| Thu, 07 May, 10:45–12:30 (CEST)

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Thursday, 7 May 2020 | Room E1

Chairperson: Giulia Roder & Nilay Dogulu
10:45–11:00 |
Joel C. Gill

Geoscience is foundational to sustainability, and an enabler of inclusive economic growth, human development, and environmental protection. Geoscientists understanding of Earth resources, dynamics and systems can help (in partnership with others) to advance progress and support the transition to sustainability, as set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ‘Business as usual’, however, is not enough to realise the significant ambitions of this development agenda, ensuring that we leave no one behind. As the geoscience community steps up to meet the geoscientific requirements of the SDGs we need to review not just what we can contribute, but also how we work.

Effective pathways for future sustainability therefore requires geoscientists to adapt in order to increase the relevance and impact of our contribution, improve accountability, and build respectful partnerships for development. This presentation articulates and discusses 10 guiding principles that aim to enhance the way in which we work, particularly when collaborating with those in the Global South (so called ‘developing countries’). These guiding principles draw upon existing internationally recognised quality standards for development and humanitarian work and set these into the context of geoscience-for-development activities (including research, innovation, training, and capacity strengthening).

Guiding principles advocate geoscience-for-development activities that:

  1. Support lasting and positive change, through appropriate, relevant and sustainable activities.
  2. Strengthen local capacity and ownership of geoscience-for-development activities (empowerment).
  3. Advance inclusion of vulnerable and marginalised groups.
  4. Communicate effectively, including listening.
  5. Capture and share learning with both internal and external audiences.
  6. Identify and act upon potential or actual unintended negative effects in a timely and systematic manner.
  7. Value cooperation, working in a coordinated and complementary manner.
  8. Manage resources effectively, efficiently and ethically.
  9. Ensure appropriate internal training and support.
  10. Are transparent and accountable.

These principles support the planning of high-quality sustainable development interventions, effective monitoring and evaluation of project partnerships and approaches, and clear communication of values to all relevant stakeholders. Indicators for each guiding principle illustrate how to demonstrate these within a project, supported by active, critical reflection on the specific context. These guiding principles have shaped the ODA activities of the British Geological Survey programme, Geoscience for Sustainable Future, with examples set out during this presentation.

How to cite: Gill, J. C.: Guiding Principles for Effective Engagement of Geoscientists in Sustainable Development Activities, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7073, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-7073, 2020.

11:00–11:15 |
Marc Gordon

As presented in the UN Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2019, extreme changes in ecological and social systems are happening now, across multiple dimensions and scales more quickly and surprisingly than we ever thought possible. Non-linear, systemic change is a reality, and new risks and correlations are emerging in ways that we have not anticipated. Cost estimates of unmitigated climate change for instance, are now considered “potentially infinite”. Threats that were once considered inconceivable, no longer are.

Risks generated by the interaction of complex human and natural systems, amplified by changes in the climate, are increasing the propensity for systems reverberations, setting up feedback loops with cascading consequences that are larger, more complex and more difficult to foresee – undermining, and potentially reversing efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In seeking to build the resilience of economies, communities and ecosystems, UN Member States adopted the Sendai Framework, which considerably expanded the scope of hazards beyond natural, to include man-made hazards and related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.  In so doing, States endorsed the shift from managing disasters to managing risks, calling for a better understanding of the underlying drivers of risk as well as their impacts.

The Sendai Framework stipulates that the global community must come to terms with a new understanding of the dynamic nature of systemic risks, new structures to govern risk in complex, adaptive systems and develop new tools for risk-informed decision-making that allows human societies to live in and with uncertainty.

This compels new approaches to improve understanding and management of risk dynamics and risk drivers at a range of spatial and temporal scales. It requires particular emphasis on the interaction among different systems resulting from the activities of humans in nature.

The era of hazard-by-hazard risk reduction is therefore over, and while modelling and metrics are important, we can no longer use the past as a reliable indicator of the future. We need to reflect the systemic nature of risk in how we seek to manage it, tuning our understanding of anthropogenic systems in nature.  This means moving away from working on distinct even isolated areas of risk when researching, designing and implementing interventions. We need to incentivize interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, integrated, multisectoral risk assessment, analysis and decision-making to improve efficiency, reduce duplication and allow for connected, collective action.  The pluralistic, systemic nature of risk demands a shift in the way we generate, collect, structure data, and organise our research, our thinking, our decisions, how we invest.

For the risk science community to effectively support, engage and guide the implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement on climate and the 2030 Agenda, in humanity’s attempt to establish resilient development pathways for society and planetary health, we must expedite greater alignment and more effective deployment of finite scientific, academic and technological capabilities, and determine and operationalise frameworks for the governance of systemic risks that allow decisions to be made cognisant of (and more comfortable with) complexity and uncertainty.

How to cite: Gordon, M.: Risk insights for sustainable and resilient societies and ecosystems, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22622, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-22622, 2020.

11:15–11:30 |
Steffen Fritz

In September 2015, the United Nations ratified the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are comprised of a further 169 targets and 232 indicators for monitoring progress on poverty, well-being and major environmental and socio-economic problems, both nationally and globally. Much of the data used for SDG monitoring comes from censuses, surveys and other administrative data provided by national statistical offices, government agencies and international organizations. However, traditional data collection can be costly and infrequent, and the information can become outdated very quickly. Moreover, reporting is generally at the national level, so spatial variations of indicators within a country are not often available, yet this information is critical for effective spatial planning. Without knowing where issues are occurring in space, we cannot implement targeted solutions. Hence, there is currently a lack of data needed for effective monitoring and implementation of the SDGs.

Non-traditional data sources such as those arising from citizen science and geospatial big data, e.g., satellite imagery, mobile phone data, social media, etc. are part of the current ‘data revolution’, all of which have potential use in SDG monitoring and implementation. This lecture will provide an overview of these new and emerging non-traditional data sources in monitoring the SDGs, providing a range of examples from citizen science, Earth Observation (including the work of the Group on Earth Observations) and mobile phone data, among others. Where relevant, we will touch upon disaster risk reduction. Finally, actions will be presented that are currently happening to promote the data revolution for sustainable development and what is still needed to make tangible progress on SDG implementation using these new data sources as well as how the engagement of citizens in data collection can trigger transformative and behavioral change.

How to cite: Fritz, S.: The Emerging Role of Citizen Science and Geospatial Big Data in Supporting the SDGs, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16829, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-16829, 2020.

11:30–11:45 |
Giuliano Di Baldassarre, Murugesu Sivapalan, Maria Rusca, Elena Mondino, Megan Konar, Saket Pande, Cristophe Cudennec, Margaret Garcia, Heidi Kreibich, Johanna Mård, Mattew Sanderson, Fuqiang Tian, Jing Wei, David J. Yu, Veena Srinivasan, Alberto Viglione, and Günter Blöschl

Millions of people around the world are affected by water crises manifesting at different scales, such as increasing drought severity and flood risk, groundwater depletion, ecological degradation, poor sanitation, water pollution and its impact on human health. This global water crisis is increasingly interconnected and growing in complexity. Negative effects often result from a lack of understanding of wider economic and socio-cultural perspectives. More specifically, water crises can be deemed the intended or unintended consequences of long-term changes of social norms and values (or, more broadly, culture), ideology or political systems, which are not typically anticipated or accounted for in coping with water-related issues. Sociohydrology engages with these principles by examining the outcomes of water management and governance processes –successes and failures as well as the distribution of costs and benefits across social groups— themselves as subjects of scientific study. In this presentation, we show how feedback mechanisms between human and water systems can generate a wide range of phenomena (including crises) in different places around the world. Moreover, we argue that a generalized understanding of sociohydrological phenomena has an important role to play in informing policy processes while assisting communities, governments, civil society organizations and private actors to address the global water crisis and meet the Sustainable Development Goals, the societal grand challenge of our time.

How to cite: Di Baldassarre, G., Sivapalan, M., Rusca, M., Mondino, E., Konar, M., Pande, S., Cudennec, C., Garcia, M., Kreibich, H., Mård, J., Sanderson, M., Tian, F., Wei, J., Yu, D. J., Srinivasan, V., Viglione, A., and Blöschl, G.: How sociohydrology can help address the global water crisis and meet the sustainable development goals, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22381, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-22381, 2020.

11:45–12:00 |
Anne Van Loon and the Panta Rhei Drought in the Anthropocene group

Water is crucially important to most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Not having enough water due to drought or water scarcity can result in food shortage, environmental degradation, reduced energy availability, poverty, illness and loss of life, migration and conflict. Lack of water also has intangible consequences related to equality, gender, and education that are often overlooked. These cascading socio-ecological impacts are most acute in the Global South where exposure and vulnerability to drought are high. African nations have therefore urged the international scientific community to support them by developing tools and data covering all aspects of drought risk (Padma, 2019). Our challenge is to increase our understanding of the relationship between water and society and how to use this understanding to improve water management and reduce drought risk. Real progress towards achieving the SDGs can only be made when our science is instrumental towards solving real-world problems. With the “Drought in the Anthropocene” group (90+ scientists working on the feedbacks between drought and society as part of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences’ Panta Rhei decade, https://iahs.info/Commissions--W-Groups/Working-Groups/Panta-Rhei/Working-Groups/Drought-in-the-Anthropocene.do) we are doing interdisciplinary research on which data and tools we can utilise to reduce drought risk around the world. Here, we will share many recent examples of our research on the links between drought and SDGs and discuss ways forward to use our increased scientific understanding to make actual impact towards achieving the SDGs.


Padma, T. V. (2019). African nations push UN to improve drought research. Nature, 573, 319-319.

How to cite: Van Loon, A. and the Panta Rhei Drought in the Anthropocene group: Drought risk reduction for achieving Sustainable Development Goals, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22385, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-22385, 2020.

12:00–12:15 |
Kensuke Fukushi

Water is a key element to the economic development and plays vital role in various activities including commercial, households, services, water-landscape, and water transport etc. A good water environment in cities has been achieved in developed countries (for e.g. Japan) through implementation of central wastewater treatment and sewerage systems. However, the development of sustainable water management and introducing a new sewage management method is challenging for the cities of developing nations in Asia in terms of having high capital, energy consumption and the technologies. This paper is evaluating the role and importance of sustainable development of water management methods and systems. Our findings suggest that the developed and developing countries must come forward and work together for the sustainable development of the cities in developing nations particularly by providing skills and efficient technologies for the improvement of water quality and wastewater treatment systems. For this, the progress of a systematic supported decision-making tool to allow investors and consumers to contribute to the development of sustainable water management methods and sewage treatment systems through bi- and multilateral investments. In addition, the active involvement of multi-stakeholders (citizens, local municipalities, industries, policy makers) with financial and non-financial institutions would help to create a “sustainable cities” in developing countries.

How to cite: Fukushi, K.: Determination of the role and value of water for the sustainable development of Asian cities, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8963, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-8963, 2020.