IGU International Geographical Union

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IGU International Geographical Union

     IGU International Geographical Union Union Géographique Internationale UGI

    IGU E-Newsletter




    # 6 October 2006

     Editor-in-Chief: Ronald F. Abler Associate Editor: Markku Löytönen Editors: Giuliano Bellezza, Woo-ik Yu Managing Editor: Dawn Bissell Publisher: Home of Geography

    This Newsletter is circulated to more than 1000 individuals and bodies. Announcements, information, calls for participation in scientific events, programmes and projects are welcome.

    Please send them to <>


Message: Taking Stock, by Adalberto Vallega, President, International Geographical Union

1) Regional Responses to Global Changes. A View from the Antipodes (Brisbane, 3-7 July,


    1a) Reflections on the role of Regional Conference [From the IGU President‘s speech to the Opening Session]

    1b) From Brisbane to Tunis: A Demanding Pathway [From the IGU President‘s speech to the Closing Session]

    2) The IGU Regional Networks: A comprehensive view

    2a) Latin American Network

    2b) Southeast Asia, Australasia and the Southwest Pacific

    2c) Commonwealth of Independent States

    3) Key International Initiatives of IGU

    3a) Cultures and Civilisations for the Human Development

    3a-i) Activity of Indian Geographers 3b) Agreement between IGU and ALECSO

    3c) International Year of Planet Earth 3d) Mediterranean Renaissance Project 3e) Agreement between IGU and Saudi Geographical Society

    4) Commissions and Task Forces

    4a) A new IGU Commission: ISLANDS

    4b) 2006 Belfast Geoparks Conference

    4c) 2007 Beijing Geoparks Conference


5) 2008 International Geographical Congress

    6) 2010 IGU Regional Conference in Tel Aviv

    7) Festival International de Géographie, Saint Dié 2006

    8) Obituary: Gilbert F. White

Update: Activities at the Home of Geography


    By Adalberto Vallega

    President, International Geographical Union

This issue of the IGU E-Newsletter focuses on the role of the Regional Responses to Global

    Changes. A View from the Antipodes, the theme of the IGU Regional Conference held in

    Brisbane, Australia, 3-7 July, 2006, not only due to the intrinsic importance of this event but also owing to the intensive discussions there on the role of regional organisations in optimising the Union‘s effectiveness by meeting the distinct needs and prospects of the individual geographical


    During the Brisbane Regional Conference the IGU Regional Network for Southeast Asia, Australasia, and the Pacific was established. It joined the three existing networks in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Mediterranean, and the Latin American Region. In Brisbane, talks were begun to evaluate the possibility and opportunity to establish a Network pertaining to the European Union. This prospect is expected to be discussed further at the IGU Executive Committee Meeting that will be held in Tunis in November 2006.

    Following these steps, it is evident that the regional approach is passing from the take off stage of the IGU 2000-2004 term, toward maturity in the 2004-2008 period. The key question now is how to encourage this process. Efforts should be concentrated on implementing communication and networking not only within the individual networks but also among them in order to discuss issues and prospects of common interest and to share experiences. Secondly, bottom-up inputs from the individual networks to the IGU Executive Committee should be expanded to enable the Executive Committee to help the former ones efficiently. Finally, special sessions of the Regional Networks, to be convened at the Tunis International Geographical Congress, could be useful to discuss how the regional organisation could improve and how a 2008-2012 programme could be sketched out.

    In this respect, opinions, comments, and proposals from the Regional Networks to be included in the ongoing issues of the IGU e-Newsletter would be highly appreciated.

Adalberto Vallega




Some data:

    ; Web address:

    ; Number of participants: 939

    ; Number of plenary sessions: 10

    ; Number of parallel sessions: 201

    ; Number of pre-conference meeting of IGU bodies: 6

    ; Number of pre-conference field trips: 2

    ; Number of post conference excursions: 2

    Conference Chairman: John Holmes M.A. (Sydney), Ph. D. (New England), F.A.S.S.A., Emeritus Professor of Geography, The University of Queensland.

1a) Regional Responses to Global Changes. A View from the Antipodes

    Reflections on the role of Regional Conference

    [From the IGU President‘s speech to the Opening Session]

    The Regional Conferences convened in the early twenty-first century by the International Geographical Union are concerned with crucial parts of the world. In Durban, on the occasion of the 2002 Conference, attention focused on the problématique of the sub-Saharan area, which is a

    critical nucleus of the UN strategy against underdevelopment. Now, in Brisbane, attention is focused on the Pacific, which is the most progressive part of the world. In 2010, on the occasion of the Tel Aviv Conference, attention will focus on the Mediterranean region, where the most demanding problématique of intercultural dialogue has emerged.

    These events may be regarded as steps of a unique discourse focusing on modernity, its problems and prospects. Along this discursive pathway, the Brisbane Conference on Regional

    Responses to Global Changes: A View from the Antipodes, enjoys a central position in many

    respects. Where this complex changing framework is borne in mind, it may be agreed that, in this present time in history, the IGU has to address an unprecedented range of conditions, and needs to tailor its approaches and organisation to changing conditions and prospects. Hence a wide menu of operational fields has arisen on the horizon of the new century.

    1 The work and outcomes of the IGU research bodies, namely the Commissions, Task Forces and other occasional bodies, need to be gathered together and better valued. Those results that could help convene international research projects and programmes, hopefully framed in interdisciplinary perspectives, such as the Oceans 21, Mediterranean Renaissance, and Cultures


    and Civilizations for Human Development programmes, may be regarded as initiatives pertaining to this stream.

    2 Efforts to co-operate with non-geographical organisations must be made. In this respect, the co-operation which has been established in the context of Geo-Unions, and the role of founder partner assumed by the IGU in the framework of the International Year of Planet Earth, are significant steps forward.

    3 Following the recommendations made by Kofi Annan, collaboration with UN

    intergovernmental organisations should be broadened and optimised. In this respect, efforts have been made to co-operate with UNESCO, FAO and UNU.

    4 Education has gained a central role in the framework of the IGU‘s activity. Establishing educational guidelines, designing educational approaches, and convening Olympiads thus

    paving the way to collaboration by local geographical organisations on the one hand, and

    interacting with local educational authorities and agencies, on the other, have shaped a demanding operational field.

    5 To deal with the specific issues affecting individual parts of the world, co-operation among geographers is also needed on the regional scale. In recent times, three regional networks have been established with respect to the Commonwealth of Independent States, Latin America and the Mediterranean. Finally, a network has just been established in the Pacific with reference to the South Asia, Australasia and the Pacific sensu lato.

    6 The more a bottom-up approach expands and gains relevance in the framework of the IGU, the better the world‘s geographical community can tackle the changing framework set out above.

1b) Regional Responses to Global Changes. A View from the Antipodes

    From Brisbane to Tunis: A Demanding Pathway

    [From the IGU President‘s speech to the Closing Session]

    During the past regional conferences, as well as during the past international congresses, the role of these events was much simpler than it is today. Those events were productive fora where geographers could meet, have discussions, share opinions, and argue about conceptual and methodological concerns paying little or no heed to their scientific and social external environments. Thus, the perception of geography was essentially self-referential: this discipline was essentially perceived in itself. Meanwhile, each event had its own unique history and was important in its own right.

    By way of contrast, the interface represented by the Brisbane Conference is somewhat more complicated and, at the same time, more stimulating, demanding and fascinating. Within the globalising era, discussions held in an individual conference or congress do not pertain only to geography, but to varying degrees they relate to other disciplines also; they must be sensitive to the demand for geographical investigations and representations of the world which have arisen from intergovernmental organisations, and from society. This is one of the main consequences of the globalising era.

    The other consequence is concerned with the links arising from the regional conferences and international geographical congresses. The geographer of the globalisation era should move towards a vision, within which each event is closely linked with the next one, in such a way as to build up a discursive pathway where the outcomes of the past event become the inputs, and the starting bases, for the next one.


In this respect, the Brisbane Conference has played this role of gateway perfectly while

    maintaining its basic role, which was that of focusing on the regional scale of a range of crucial issues relating to the globalising era. In the Conference framework, an IGU Commission on Indigenous Knowledge and Peoples Rights had its debut, thus catalysing attention on cardinal issues of cultural geography; an IGU Commission on Islands was established, thus providing a geographical response to the UN Barbados Action Plan; a geographical network, concerned with an extensive and important part of the Pacific, was launched; discussions relating to international programmes and projects were held, including the International Year of Planet Earth and the Cultures and Civilizations for Human Development initiatives. Now, the task that lies before us is to build on these efforts and achievements in preparation for the next major event, namely the International Geographical Congress on Building together our territories!, which will be held in

    Tunis in 2008.

2) THE IGU REGIONAL NETWORKS: A comprehensive view


    Geographical coverage: Latin America, from Mexico to Chile

    Co-ordinator 1: Ana María Liberali, Argentina

    Co-ordinator 2: Alvaro Sánchez, Mexico

    Liaison of the IGU Executive Committee: José-Luis Palacio Prieto, Mexico

Activity Report: January 2005-September 2006

    Presented by

    Prof. Ana Maria Liberali (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and

     Dr. Álvaro Sánchez-Crispín, (Mexico City, Mexico).

1. The network’s objective

    The overall objective of this network is the promotion and development of close working relations among specialized academic bodies in Latin America, both regional and national, which share the common interest of enhancing the place of Geography in the fields of education and

    research, from elementary school to postgraduate studies.

    This is particularly important considering the present educational and research ambience in Latin America which, in most cases, is not sympathetic to the teaching of subjects, such as Geography, that could provide a solid basis for the formation of good citizens, sensitive to the problems affecting the place in which we live.

2. Geographical coverage


    As of September 2006, this network incorporates most Latin American nations. The list of participant countries is basically the same as that of the Latin American Geographical Union. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela are members of that Union. In one way or another, these countries are also linked to the Latin American Network of the IGU.

3. Operational fields

    The overlay of the network and the Union can be traced back to 2004, the year the network was founded. As soon as news spread about the creation of the network, the incorporation of Union representatives to the network started. Ever since, communication between the network and the Union has been constant and fluid, especially because the network‘s chairperson (Professor

    Liberali) is also the webmaster of the Red Humboldt, a website promoting links and academic

    activities among geographers in Latin America and the rest of the world


    Every other year, Latin American geographers gather in a previously designated location. The last meeting was hosted in Sao Paulo in 2005 and the next, in 2007, will be held in Bogota. At the Sao Paulo meeting, the network‘s chairperson and secretary had the chance to interact with

    various academics, teachers and researchers, dedicated to the promotion of Geography in their own countries. Several initiatives were agreed regarding the publication of books and the organisation of scientific meetings, in particular in Argentina, through the Red Humboldt. Yearly, the network‘s chairperson takes the responsibility of organising a regional geographical meeting in Argentina attended by several professionals from Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. They present their research findings in fields such as Education, Political Geography and GIS, to name but a few. This is another forum where the network has actively participated. Finally, this network supports the IGU initiative Cultures and Civilisations for Human

    Development, originally proposed by the current IGU President, Prof. Adalberto Vallega. The way in which this network can contribute to this initiative is still being discussed; in due time, it will be announced through various means of communication.

4. Expected outcomes

    As a result of the operation of the network in the fields indicated above, over the coming months, we expect the following outcomes:

    1. A book on the state-of-the-art of Geography in Latin America. This will be a major

    contribution to the understanding of the state of Geography in several countries in the region. The book is co-ordinated by the secretary of the network (Dr. Sanchez-Crispin). We would like to present this book at the Bogota meeting, in March 2007. The book will receive contributions in Spanish and Portuguese.

    2. The presentation of a paper at the Second Global Conference on Economic Geography to be

    held in Beijing, China, in June 2007. On this occasion, both the network‘s chairperson and the

    secretary will be presenting the results of a general investigation into the state of teaching and research in the field of Economic Geography in different countries of Latin America. Considering the expected number of geographers attending this conference and its geographical setting, we presume that the impact of our paper will be significant.

5. Call for collaboration


    We appeal to the goodwill of geographers in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, to join our network. We know very little about Geography and geographers in these three nations, not yet incorporated into either the IGU network or the Latin American Geographical Union. Moreover, we would like to include in our list, the names of geographers living or working in the Caribbean island-states, as this part of the Americas is often labeled under the name of Latin America.

    Anyone who wants to become a member of this network, or collaborate with particular members, can do so easily by e-mailing a message to the following address:

    Please specify your wish to become a member of the Latin American Network of the IGU.

6. Proposed future directions

    The network will continue its efforts to bring together the collective work of geographers based in different countries of the region, from Northern Mexico to Patagonia.

    The network will support the organisation of academic meetings (colloquia, symposia, congresses) in order to provide a favourable forum in which geographers, from all corners of Latin America, can come and share the results of their own work.

    The publication of books and other materials significant to the enhancement of teaching and research in Geography, written by our own Latin American geographers, will be a priority for our network. While current geographical literature, in English, is abundant, the publication of books on Geography in Spanish is practically non-existent. We want to contribute to filling that gap by editing and publishing at least one book per year, in Spanish and Portuguese, mostly including

    Latin American authors.

    Finally, the network will strengthen its pre-existing ties with other Networks and Commissions of the International Geographical Union by attending congresses or regional meetings in the coming years.

7. Contact details of the Network’s Chairperson and Secretary

    Chairperson: Prof. Ana Maria Liberali, an Argentinian geographer, based in Buenos Aires.

    She is an original founder of the Centro de Estudios Humboldt, a non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of Geography in Argentina and elsewhere in South America. Over the last decade, she has significantly contributed to the fields of Economic Geography and Educational Geography in her own country.

    Ana Maria Liberali

    Centro de Estudios Humboldt

    Juan Domingo Perón 1321-21

    Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Tel. (54-11) 43 74 35 81


Secretary: Dr. Alvaro Sanchez-Crispin, a Mexican geographer, working for the National

    Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. He currently chairs the Latin American Geographical Union. His professional interests include Economic Geography, Regional Geography of Mexico and Educational Geography.

    Dr. Alvaro Sanchez-Crispin

    Instituto de Geografía

    National Autonomous University of Mexico


Ciudad Universitaria

    04510 DF

    Mexico City, Mexico

    Tel. and fax: (52-55) 56 22 43 33




    Following the establishment of the IGU Regional Network on Southeast Asia, Australasia and the Southwest Pacific (IGU Newsletter #5 July 2006), the Network has been awarded AUD$ 16,000 by the University of Sydney‘s International Program Development Fund (IPDF) grant scheme. This will provide seed money for the establishment of SEAASWP as a collaborative set of research and teaching initiatives, mentoring activities and mutual support between geographers from different countries in the region. The key network themes were described in the earlier IGU newsletter article, and the initiative is open to new collaborative themes.

     The network will adopt a nodal strategy, with the University of Sydney, Australia and Nanyang University of Technology, Singapore taking the lead. SEAASWP anticipates involving a key contact person in each country. The network welcomes involvement from geographers in the region and also those with an interest in the region but based elsewhere. The Network will be taken forward in a number of ways. From 28-30 November 2006, the Southeast Asian Geography Association (SEAGA) will hold its biennial conference at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore A one-day SEAASWP workshop will be held ahead of the conference on Monday 27 November. Two geographers from the Southwest Pacific (Fiji and Papua New Guinea) will be supported by the University of Sydney‘s IPDF program to attend the Singapore conference. The pre-conference workshop will cover organizational issues and will identify key areas of collaboration for program development within the network. It will also include presentations on the legacy and current situation of development geography in a number of SEAASWP countries.

     The SEAASWP website will be up and running soon, allowing for online program development. The website will be hosted by the Australian Mekong Resource Centre

    ( at the University of Sydney. For further information on

    SEAASWP, and to be included on the email contact list, please contact Kate Griffiths

Philip Hirsch

    SEAASWP Regional Network Coordinator


    Geographical Coverage: Member Countries of the CIS

    New Co-ordinator: to be appointed





    As has been reported in previous issues of the E-IGU Newsletter, the Cultures and Civilizations for Human Development (CCHD) initiative was launched with the aim of helping intercultural and intercivilizational dialogue as an essential tool to pursue human development. The CCHD initiative will be operated at two levels:

; The first level, which is presented in the CCHD Action Plan, consists of a set of actions to be

    carried out in the medium term focusing on i) education, ii) the media, iii) society, and iv)

    collaboration with decision-making centres.

    ; The second level will consist of a proposal to the United Nations to proclaim an International

    Year on Cultures and Civilizations for Human Development.

    In spite of being conceived and designed by the International Geographical Union, CCHD is essentially interdisciplinary, and multi-perspective from a cultural point of view.

Sponsoring organisations

    At the present time, CCHD is supported by:

    ; four moral sponsor organisations from four countries, including one non-geographical


    ; eighteen operational sponsor organisations from thirteen countries, including six non-

    geographical sponsors;

Collaboration from the IGU National Committees

    A call for participation and collaboration was circulated to 58 IGU National Committees (NCs). At the present time, 17 of them, equal to 29 percent of the total number contacted, have expressed their willingness to collaborate. Recently, the NCs were invited to convene a national report on cultural diversity with specific reference to the 2005 ―Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions‖.

Collaboration from geographical societies and associations

    A call for participation and collaboration was circulated to 131 national geographical bodies. At the present time, 12 of them, equal to 9 percent of the total number contacted, have expressed their willingness to collaborate.

Cardinal co-operation: United Nations


    UNESCO, Culture Sector In April, this branch of UNESCO responded positively to IGU‘s invitation. In order to initiate collaboration, some papers were sent to the Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue.

United Nations University, UNU In March, Hans J. A. van Ginkel, Rector of UNU, sent a

    letter in which the UNU agreed to be included in the Roster of Operational Sponsors and to jointly convene actions concerned with education.

Co-operation with the Holy See Following a meeting held in Rome, possible collaboration

    with the Holy See, Pontifical Council of Culture, is expected to be explored in the coming months.

Co-operation with International Council for Science The ICSU Office for Africa expressed its

    willingness to establish operational collaboration.

Co-operation with International Social Science Council The CCHD will be presented at the

    ISSC General Assembly of November 2006. Close collaboration is expected to be established, including the organisation of an international scientific event on cultures and civilizations.

Co-operation with The Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization

    (ALECSO) Following the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed last December by IGU and ALECSO, effective collaboration is expected to take place in the framework of CCHD. In this respect, an ad hoc meeting recently took place with Mr Mongi Bousnina in Tunis (see 3b).

CCHD and the IYPE

    Close interaction between the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) and the CCHD is regarded of mutual interest. In this respect, a sort of feedback could be envisaged between the IYPE and the UN Year on CCHD. The operational aspects of this potentially close collaboration are yet to be defined.

Contacts at the national scale A number of letters have been received from eminent

    geographers and bodies from all over the world expressing their intention to explore whether their local government could play the role of promoter in the framework of UNESCO and the UN. The countries concerned are listed below (the name of the IGU liaison person is mentioned in brackets):

    ; Finland (Markku Löytönen)

    ; Japan (Hiroshi Tanabe)

    ; Norway (Tor Halfdan Aase)

    ; South Africa (Lindisizwe M. Magi)

    ; Tunisia (Alì Toumi)

    ; China (Wuyi Wang)

    ; Denmark (Christian Wichmann Matthiessen)

    ; Egypt (M.S. Abulezz)

    ; New Zealand (R.D. Bedford)

    ; Romania (Dan Balteanu)

    ; Saudia Arabia (Mohammad S. Makki)

    ; Slovak Republic (Jan Feranec)


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