GEOGRAPHERS HAVE UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES in the face of the global
biodiversity and climate crises. Geography is a discipline that is uniquely located at the intersection of the social
sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. This equips geographers to be adept systems-thinkers and
interdisciplinarians. It is furthermore an applied knowledge, focused above all on the state of our planet and our
relationships with it. All of this makes the learning, teaching, and practice of geography centrally relevant to the
closely-linked challenges of the global climate and biodiversity crises.
Geographers can do much more than present an analysis of these challenges. They also have a vantage point from
which they can point to the kinds of thought and action that can deliver a better tomorrow for every person on Earth.
This coming October and November will see some of the most consequential weeks in terms of humanity’s
collective relationship with planet Earth. In October the world’s governments will come together to confront the
continuing dramatic loss of species and their habitats—the biodiversity crisis—compounded as it is by the
accumulating impacts of climate change. It is hoped that the meeting will set the stage for ambitious new targets
for the global conservation of nature out to 2030.
Around the same time, in Milan, Italy, and then, for two weeks in November, in Glasgow, Scotland, governments
will reconvene to confront the existential challenge of climate change. It is widely hoped and expected that the
meeting will set enhanced and more urgent reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions out to 2030, as well
as mandating a critical role for nature in climate change mitigation and adaption.
Geographers, whether as students, researchers, educators, writers, explorers, practitioners in business or policy,
or as engaged and curious travellers, encourage our leaders to make ambitious commitments to place the protection
of nature and a liveable climate at the centre of the world’s economics and politics at this critical juncture.
Accordingly, we pledge that our institutions will redouble our efforts to apply the unique attributes that are the
hallmark of the learning, teaching, and practice of geography to the global environmental challenges that have
drawn together the world’s governments to these vital meetings this year. We commit to doing all that we can to
apply geography’s potent capabilities to the task of making the coming decade one of hope and of positive action.