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8.5) Sacred Sites, Cultural Landscapes, and Harmonising the World of Asia, Lampang Rajahbat, Thailand, 2-5 December.
8.6) China-Arabia, Encounters and Engagements, Singapore National University, 15-16 December.
1) Remarks from President yukio himiyama Dear colleagues,
The 33rd International Geographical Congress held in Beijing from 21st August 2016 ended on 25th August 2016 and was declared a great success. The term of the new executive members started when this Congress ended, and will continue until the conclusion of the 34th IGC in Istanbul in 2020. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the members of the General Assembly for giving us this invaluable opportunity of scholastic challenge.
As I mentioned in my Statement of Intent during the election campaign (see IGU E-Newsletter NS #19), I see my primary role as the new president as keeping IGU running uninterrupted and to promote further the on-going projects such as IYGU, OurSus, and Journals project, as well as the objectives prescribed in the Statutes. Thanks to the devoted work of the Secretary General and the other Executive Committee members, IGU in fact never stopped at the time of this member renewal, and has been moving vigorously. The first Executive Committee meeting, where priority issues, strategies, time line etc. for 2016-2020 and beyond are to be discussed in detail, is scheduled in the middle of November 2016 in Paris. Therefore, it is timely to overview the current states of some of our priority tasks with you.
1) Promotion of national/regional activities and Commissions’ activities:
There are grand international meetings of IGU called International Geographical Congresses (IGC), which are held every four years, and somewhat smaller meetings without a general assembly called Regional Conferences (RC), which are held basically in between two IGCs. They are both truly international in nature, but for the countries or regions that host them, they may be considered as a powerful driver to unite and activate the local geographic community. The fact that four countries, namely Australia, Ireland, Denmark (with Sweden) and Czech, contested for the opportunity to host the 2024 IGC suggests that there are many countries willing to host major meetings of IGU. Those awaiting us are at Quebec (RC, 2018), Istanbul (IGC, 2020), Paris (Extraordinary IGC, 2022), and the recently endorsed Dublin (IGC, 2024). In order to assist meetings larger than ordinary Commission meetings but smaller than RC, we now have a category of IGU meetings formally called Thematic Conference (TC,) which is jointly organized by two or more Commissions, normally with the support of the national committee concerned. We already have TCs to be held at Hyderabad (March) and La Paz (April) in 2017 alone. Commissions, Taskforces and National Committees are encouraged to propose Thematic Conferences to the Executive Committee.
The United Nation’s ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ identifies seventeen priority targets, such as ‘no poverty’, ‘zero hunger’, ‘sustainable cities and communities’ and ‘life on land’ -all are strongly related to geography in various ways. Future Earth, a new research/education framework and platform initiated by ICSU, ISSC etc., is expected to be a key driver to help realize these goals. Geography is multi-disciplinary in nature, and Future Earth is a true challenge and opportunity for geographers of the world. Therefore, Commissions, Task Forces and National Committees are strongly encouraged to consider their possible involvement in Future Earth. The IGU Executive Committee will welcome their inquiries, proposals and suggestions about it, and will assist them in every possible way.
3) Promotion of geographical and environmental education in association with IYGU:
Geographical education, environmental education, and education for sustainable development (ESD) can be developed and promoted under the Future Earth framework, as well as under the existing framework of Geography Olympiad or by that of more country/region-specific conventional geography education. IYGU (International Year of Global Understanding) can play a crucial role in them by linking local and global in many ways. Although IYGU is centred in 2016, it will continue for some more years or even a decade and the IGU will support it directly through the newly established Commission on Global Understanding and many other Commissions and Task Forces and National Committees. It is hoped that the IYGU network with its Regional Action Centres becomes a focus of the education reform for sustainability of the world.
So, there are a lot of opportunities and duties in front of us. Let’s work together for the advancement and promotion of geography and related disciplines for the benefit of the society.