UNESCO Strategy in Earth Sciences
The Concept of the IGCP Projects
Purpose and objectives of the IGCP
The International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP)
is a cooperative enterprise of the International Union of Geological
Sciences (IUGS) and UNESCO.
The purpose of the IGCP is to encourage and facilitate international
cooperation in research on geological problems and thereby to promote the
wise use of the Earth as a human habitat and as a source of natural resources.
It is generally agreed that the IGCP is the most successful programme
open to scientists worldwide in the field of solid earth sciences and is
one of the most highly regarded scientific programmes in UNESCO. To achieve
its aims within the rapidly changing world in which the IGCP now finds
itself, it pursues the following broad objectives:
- increase the understanding of the factors controlling the global environment.
In this respect, increased emphasis will be put on projects elucidating
events and processes, that control the human living conditions, e.g.
- Resources: new resources, most effective ways of finding energy, mineral
and water resources; management of used material - waste disposal, reduction
of pollution related to resource use;
- Storage of water (ecological and geotechnical problems)
- Soils - formation, conservation and remediation;
- Geothermal energy - prospection, assessment and development;
- Geotechnical problems associated with major engineering projects and
urban development (dam sites etc.)
- Earth sciences in relation to natural disaster reduction - understanding
and mitigation of problems related to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes,
- Health - the impact of the use of geologic materials on public health.
- developing more effective ways to find and assess natural resources
of energy and minerals;
- increasing knowledge of geological processes and geological concepts
through correlative studies of many locations around the globe;
- improving standards of research and methods and techniques of carrying
- organizing pilot studies to elucidate the role of the lithosphere in
global environmental change;
- in liaison with the activities implemented under the World Decade for
Cultural Development, surveys are carried out in order to localize sites
of outstanding geological interest in need of protection;
- under the Programme on Geology for Environmentally found development
- to initiate fundamental research on the influence of geofactors on
the environment for example, on the migration of toxic metals in sediments;
- to develop improved procedures for preparing geotechnical maps for
city development planning;
- to use geographic information systems for planning human settlement
and industrial projects in fragile environments;
The programme is carried out through individual projects. Their number
is controled by the availability of financial resources and by scientific
peer review of project proposals and of reports of progress.
IGCP projects normally have to meet the following main criteria:
- relevance to the major scientific and practical objectives of the programme
- meet a world-wide, continental or regional need;
- preferably involve various branches of earth science and their application
and require interdisciplinary cooperation;
- result not only in long-term benefits but also whenever possible yield
tangible short-term practical results for the participating countries.
IGCP projects are approved for a period of no more than five years.
The success of the Programme has depended on the dedication of project
leaders and on the enthusiasm and support of geologists around the world.
Projects have generally built on existing activities of member countries,
and have attracted to a great or lesser extent, additional funds from governmental
and other funding agencies. Thus some projects have attracted substantial
sums to support their international activities, including major training
workshops which have been of particular benefit to less developed countries.
Experience has shown that the IGCP is a very effective, and cost-effective
way of promoting development, by building the base of scientific knowledge
and expertise in less developed countries.
It must be emphasized that IGCP is not a funding agency for research.
The limited funds available have a catalytic purpose. The financial support
is provided to cover part of the costs of organizing and managing IGCP
projects, and particularly to facilitate participation in meetings, workshops,
seminars, symposia and field excursions by scientists from economically
weaker countries. The remainder of the costs of organizing and managing
the projects, together with the costs of actually conducting the research,
must be covered by financial support from other sources.
The purpose of funding is catalytic and relevant criteria for the assessment
of its usefulness are
- evidence on high quality activity and widespread support
- the number of countries (especially of developing countries)
- individuals involved.
The IGCP #405 project belongs to 9 new projects that have been given
medium funding (only one being bestowed high funding). The total
1996 funds for IGCP #405 are 5700 USD.
Digested from recent materials of the IGCP Scientific Board by P.