40th Anniversary of the IGCP

Cave, hungary.

IGCP is one of the important programmes of UNESCO’s Natural Sciences Sector; it was endorsed by UNESCO in 1972 just after the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011. The four-decade success story of the IGCP Programme and its 335 endorsed projects is the result of the dedication of project leaders and the enthusiasm, support and participation of geoscientists from around the world who continue to collaborate and share their work.

Following the General Conference resolution 2.321, adopted in 1970, an Intergovernmental Conference of Experts was organized at UNESCO Headquarters on 17-28 October 1971 to prepare an International Geological Correlation Programme. Experts representing 52 Member States, one Associate Member, and 11 international NGOs participated in an effort that defined the objectives and content of a formal Programme. The Statutes of the IGCP were approved during the following session of the UNESCO General Conference, in 1972 (document 17 C/66), which marks the official birth date of the IGCP.


© W. Haeberli
Storglaciaren Glacier with Kebnekaise mountain (Sweden)

UNESCO is currently the only UN Organization with a mandate in interdisciplinary research and capacity-building in geology and geophysics. The early years of the IGCP were aimed at enhancing scientific exchange through the correlation of geological strata and research data around the globe, focused on basic geoscientific research and on making connections between events throughout the Earth’s history. The IGCP was initially named the 'International Geological Correlation Programme', which, at that time, accurately indicated its core activity. The opportunities it offered were immediately appreciated by international research groups which would never have come together without such a high quality platform under the auspices of the UN.

Our long-term involvement is important as geological knowledge is necessary to develop sustainable societies. The IGCP has continued over these past 40 years in part because it managed to adapt to a changing world and, today, places emphasis on society-oriented themes. The work of the IGCP now extends to earth science topics related to sustainable development such as natural disasters, medical geology and natural resource extraction. Thus, the IGCP stimulates the work of projects with a clear societal orientation while maintaining its long-held dedication to high quality international interdisciplinary science partnerships. The IGCP also has specific project support for young scientists to bring them together with experienced leading scientists to cooperate in cutting-edge research.

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