In 2013, the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) launched the Resourcing Future Generations (RFG; https://www.geolsoc.org.uk/~/media/shared/documents/RFG/White%20Paper%20pdf.pdf?la=en) initiative to bring world attention to the challenges of sustaining resource supplies. The RFG initiative includes a diverse group of geoscientists, environmental and social scientists, including economists, drawn from a range of institutions and EuroGeoSurveys with diverse private and public experience in exploration, mining, processing, environmental protection, and sustainable development.
During its most recent workshop held in Namibia from the 25th to 30th of July, 2015, the group began by recognising that there are several global-scale challenges facing humanity that are interrelated: (i) climate change; (ii) sustainable development, and (iii) resource adequacy and diversity of supply. Attempts to address climate change and sustainable development necessarily involve resource adequacy, and yet has received minimal global policy consensus. The workshop aimed to develop an expert consensus document to raise the profile of this issue at the highest level of international decision-making.
The experts group substantiated the following key premises to develop an action agenda:
- The 20th century was characterised by massive improvements in living standards for billions of people in the developed world.
- This improvement was underpinned by a dramatic increase in utilisation of water, energy and mineral resources.
- However, the mineral resource requirements of humankind need to be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
- With projections of further population growth to about 9 billion people by 2050 the worldneeds adequate supplies of mineral raw materials to fulfill the aspirations of this growing population, and to meet targets of sustainable development.
During 5 days of sharing research, the experts group focused the development of its policy motivation document on the following key areas requiring action: (i) supply and demand; (ii) the fact that mineral deposits are irregularly distributed and their location controlled by geology, and thus that the value of mineral resources must be recognised and assessed in the contexts of other land uses, such as mining, agriculture, forestry, water, habitats for fauna and flora, cultural and natural heritage, as well as land for settlements and infrastructure; (iii) use of materials, energy and water; (iv) best practice in mining legislation, and (v) the outstanding role of Namibia’s Geological Survey.
Discussion led to the immediate production of two short documents:
- Resourcing Future Generations – A Global Effort to Meet the World’s Future Needs Head-on
- The importance of geoscience data in attracting mining investment in Africa: Lessons from Namibia
Further research outputs and broader communiques to address the problems in more detail are to follow.
The Namibian Geological Survey, Dr. Gabi Schneider provided local interface and leadership for the workshop. The presentations of Mr. Veston Malango, CEO of the Chamber of Mines of Namibia, and his excellency, the Minister of Mining and Resources, Mr. Obeth Kandjoze, reflected the importance of these issues to one of Africa’s leading mineral economies. With their personal and friendly attitude, both representatives of the Namibian government provided the group an excellent opportunity for an open discussion. The workshop was held on the GocheGanas wilderness resort and was financially supported by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), UNESCO and an International Council of Science (ICSU) grant to IUGS.