EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

An expanded definition of geoethics

Giuseppe Di Capua1,2 and Silvia Peppoloni1,2
Giuseppe Di Capua and Silvia Peppoloni
  • 1Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome, Italy ( ;
  • 2International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG)

Geoethics incorporates instances, categories, concepts, principles, and values already present in the cultural debate, and develops an original theoretical and interdisciplinary framework that merges reflections and considerations that animate philosophical, political, sociological, economic, and (geo)scientific discussions. Geoethics analyses critically and rationally theoretical and practical issues of local and global importance (from climate change, to defense against geohazards and the use of geo-resources), in order to guide social stakeholders towards more inclusive, sustainable, and ecologically-oriented choices.

Geoethics can be qualified as:

  • universal and pluralist (it defines an ethical framework for humanity, in the awareness that the respect of the plurality of visions, approaches, tools is essential to assure dignity to all agents and to guarantee a wide range of opportunities for developing more effective actions to face common threats).
  • wide (its issues and reflections cover an extensive variety of themes);
  • multidisciplinary (its approach favors cooperation and overcoming the sectoral languages of the individual disciplines, to reach the intersection and integration of knowledge);
  • synthetic (it expresses a position of synthesis, definable as ecological humanism, between various existential concepts and different conceptions regarding the nexus between human being and Earth system);
  • local and global (its topics of interest concern both local and regional dimensions, as well as the global one related to the entire Earth system);
  • pedagogical (it proposes a reference model to cultivate one's ethical dimension, to reach a greater awareness of the value of human identity, not in terms of exercisable power over the other by oneself, but of respect of the dignity of what exists);
  • political (it criticizes the materialism, egoism, and consumerism of capitalism, prefiguring a profound cultural change of economic paradigms, and supports the right to knowledge as the foundation of society).

By contributing to change the perception of the nexus between the human being and the Earth system and consequently the social and legal structures of the organization of human communities, geoethics defines educational and political horizons for reaching a global reform of society (Peppoloni and Di Capua 2021:

Based on these considerations, the definition of geoethics, as included in the Cape Town Statement on Geoethics (Di Capua et al. 2017: and internationally adopted, can find a new, broader formulation, which also describes better its theoretical structure and operational logic:

Geoethics is a field of theoretical and applied ethics focused on studies related to human-Earth system nexus. Geoethics is the research and reflection on principles and values which underpin appropriate behaviors and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system. Geoethics deals with ways of creating a global ethics framework for guiding individual and social human behaviors, while considering human relational domains, plurality of human needs and visions, planetary boundaries, and geo-ecological tipping points. Geoethics deals with the ethical, social, and cultural implications of geoscience knowledge, education, research, practice, and communication and with the social role and responsibilities of geoscientists.

How to cite: Di Capua, G. and Peppoloni, S.: An expanded definition of geoethics, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-1385,, 2023.