An International Year of the Planet Earth

Terrazo producer in Kabul. BGS © NERC

The International Union of Geosciences, together with UNESCO, has worked hard to have 2008 proclaimed as ‘The international year of the Planet Earth’ (IYPE) with the subtitle Earth Sciences for Society.According to UN guidelines for the proclamation of international years, suitable subjects should be 'of priority concern to political, social, economic, cultural, humanitarian or human rights'; of concern to 'all (or a majority of) countries, regardless of economic and social system', and should 'contribute to the development of international co-operation in solving global problems', paying special attention to those effecting developing countries.

On the 22 December 2005, the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a Resolution of the United Republic of Tanzania, co-signed by 82 nations to proclaim 2008 as the UN Year of the Planet Earth. It also designated UNESCO to organise activities to be undertaken during the year, in collaboration with UNEP and other relevant UN bodies, IUGS and other Earth Sciences Societies and groups throughout the world.

IUGS and its partners in this venture are planning an ambitious Science Programme based around ten themes and an extensive outreach programme together spanning a three year period (2006-2009) including one year on either side of the 'International Year of the Planet Earth' (2008). To find out more about the progress of these ambitious plans and details of the programme structure you should consult the dedicated website where explanatory brochures on all the themes can be consulted online and/or downloaded.

AGID is one of sixteen organisations that are Associate Partners of IYPE and plans to take an active role in the Outreach Programme with a project aimed at developing countries as outlined in the section below.

Glass manufacturing in Kabul. BGS © NERC

GID and the IYPE outreach programme

AGID has submitted a project proposal to the Outreach Committee of IYPE entitled 'Geoscience information for Schools in Developing Countries: The Earth and Me TEAM)' The purpose of the project is to raise awareness of schoolchildren in developing countries of the ways in which geoscience is relevant to their daily lives. The focus is on children attending schools in relatively impoverished areas of developing countries with a first phase concentrating on pilot projects in Africa (Nigeria) and Asia (Bangladesh and India).

Simple handouts on key topics of local significance will be prepared in the appropriate vernacular language and distributed free to schools. Schoolchildren will be encouraged to take the leaflets home thus transferring the information to the wider community.

The project has been positively evaluated. AGID is providing some seed money from its own limited resources and it is hoped that further IYPE funding will become available to launch the project fully in mid 2008.