The purposes of the IGU, as indicated in its Statutes, are: to promote the study of geographical problems; to initiate and co-ordinate geographical research requiring international co-operation and to promote its scientific discussion and publication; to provide for the participation of geographers in the work of relevant international organizations; to facilitate the collection and diffusion of geographical data, knowledge and documentation in and between all member countries; to promote meetings of the International Geographical Union, regional conferences between the International Geographical Congresses, and other meetings in furtherance of the objectives of the Union; to participate in any other appropriate form of international co-operation with the object of advancing the study and application of geography; to promote international standardization or compatibility of methods, nomenclature, and symbols employed in geography, together with promoting Science and Social Science-Policy Interface.

There are essentially four constituency groupings with which the IGU engages, viz. IGU Commissions and Task Forces, IGU National Committees and the broader community of geographers, external bodies including the International Science Council (ISC) and its member unions and the International Council for Philosophical and Human Sciences (CIPSH), and those bodies that have major political influence in setting the global scientific context and agenda, such as UNESCO. IGU is actively engaged in promoting public value of geography education through Commissions and National Committees.

The strategy of the IGU for 2020-2024 is to continue to advance its stated purposes while improving performance in all of them, taking account especially of the fact that the IGU will celebrate its centennial during the term of office of the current EC. In this centennial celebration, IGU must reaffirm:

  • The excellence of the discipline based on new and appropriate concepts and methods,
  • The role of geography as a major science in global debates on, for example, climate change and social inequity, and must promote actions of its members in this context.

The Executive Committee will focus its attention on three levels of strategic activity:

  • Actions relating to IGU membership and empowerment
  • Actions relating to outreach
  • Actions relating to communication

Actions relating to IGU membership and empowerment

  • Increasing the relatively limited geographical footprint of membership among developing world countries, particularly in Africa but also in southeast Asia and Latin America.
  • Increasing the participation of, in particular, female geographers and those from developing countries in IGU Commission and Task Forces activities, as well as in IGU events. IGU aims to promote decentralised and participatory leadership involving all countries of the world.
  • Improving the level of contributions of IGU Commissions and Task Forces, and IGU National Committees, to the IGU archives.
  • Establishing new as well as continuing to implement existing IGU Honors and Awards in the IGU community.

Actions relating to outreach

  • Increasing and improving the range of activities of IGU Commissions and Task Forces, for example by encouraging them to offer online lectures/webinars, or in promoting a mentor ship programme for early career geographers and those from developing countries.
  • Highlighting and further promoting the work of IGU Commissions and Task Forces in relation to key global initiatives, including inter alia, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, Disaster Risk Reduction, Paris Climate Action and Habitat-III, and ISC Future Earth.
  • Increasing the number and quality of IGU-branded publications in order to disseminate geographical knowledge to all countries of the world.
  • Developing the public profile of Geography through promoting events such as ‘Geonight/Geonuit’ and Geography Awareness Week.
  • Developing and strengthening our contributions to geographical education in general, and to UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in particular.
  • Further improving the profile of the IGU in, and engagement with, relevant international organizations, especially the ISC (including the GeoUnions and CODATA), UN-GGIM and CIPSH inter alia.

Actions relating to communication

  • Improving the quality and visibility of all IGU-related meetings, and especially its flagship events.
  • Communicating the work of the IGU in order to improve decision making through a more structured and accessible website and through greater visibility on relevant social media platforms.
  • Improving accessibility of the IGU website and other forms of communication in languages other than English, and in French and Spanish in particular.
  • Updating the form and content of the IGU e-Newsletter and ensuring the timely publication and distribution of the IGU Bulletin.
  • Improving internal and external communications through the construction of an accurate database of IGU contacts and maintaining its currency.
  • Empowering national and regional geographical societies for promoting geography at local, national and regional levels.

In order to facilitate the work of the IGU, all EC members have clearly allocated responsibilities for liaison with specific Commissions and Task Forces, and National Committees. In addition, all EC members have specific ‘portfolios’ to ensure progress is made against the objectives and actions outlined above.