To play a leading role in research on sustainable development and territory
To promote geography and to foster its integration in the international media space
To make geographical education a focus of IGU activity
The global nature of the IGU is confirmed by its 68 full member countries and 39 with observer status. Efforts to extend contacts with Latin America, developing relationship with Union de Geógrafos de América Latina (UGAL) and in 1917 an International Thematic Conference will be organized in La Paz, Bolivia, in association with Encuentro de Geógrafos de América Latina (EGAL). More challenging is the situation un Africa, especially in the francophone countries.
The specific objectives to improve the quality of its major conferences and congresses, while making them more accessible to young and early career scholars and participants from low-income countries obtained encouraging signs the Regional Meeting Cologne 2012 attracted more than 3000 delegates, the largest ever gathering of geographers under the IGU banner (now superseded by the current Beijing Congress); regional meetings in Kyoto (Japan, 2013); Krakow (Poland, 2014) and Moscow (Russia, 2015) had between 1300 to 1700 participants from 65-70 countries in each case.
IGU established since 2012 innovative new commissions on Latin American Studies, Mediterranean Basin and Toponymy (jointly with the International Cartographic Association, ICA) and Task Forces devoted to the IGU Centennial and Sesquicentennial and to Young and Early-Career Geographers. Furthermore, from the 2012-16 Commission and Task Force reports many more joint commission conferences and other activities now esult. The establishment of the Commission Excellence Award in 2013 has given some effect to this, along with the increase from 2016 in the annual operating grant provided to seed Commission and Task Force activities. Many Commissions publish the proceedings of their meetings and workshops, either in special issues of journals or as edited volumes; Springer is now publishing regular contributions from commissions in the Advances in Environmental and Geographical Sciences series.
IGU represents the discipline through its active participation in the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and, since 2015, the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH). IGU has also been successful in obtaining major research grants from ICSU, including: “Transdisciplinary Intercultural Ecological Research for Sustainability” (TIERS) and “Global Understanding Global Sustainability” (together with ICA, International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing). There is greater involvement of IGU representatives in the work of international governmental organizations and committees of the UN system such as the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN). Cooperation with the major new international (ICSU/ISSC) programme “Future Earth” is to be encouraged and it is clear that the IGU should play a leading role in interdisciplinary research related to territory and the environment. Both formal and informal regional collaborative networks have been established and joint initiatives with high profile European geographical associations Eugeo and Eurogeo are underway, including the International Charter on Geographical Education.
Among the highest profile of IGU specific projects are: the inauguration of 2016 as the International Year of Global Understanding (IYGU), along with other important initiatives such as IGU Journals project and Our Sustainable Cities (OurSus), disseminating good practice of sustainability in cities of different sizes, with particularly success in China.
Many new tasks lie ahead. We aim to raise the profile of the IGU, to establish relations with international business organizations (for instance, in the field of tourism); to establish relations with the leading institutions in the field of GIS and to continue to make geographical education as a strong focus of IGU activity. The forthcoming centenary of the organisation, which will be celebrated at an extraordinary Congress in Paris in 2022, offers an excellent opportunity for IGU to consolidate its status and give effect to existing and new initiatives.
Report of the Secretary General and Treasurer for the Period 2012-2016
Secretary-General and Treasurer Meadows affirmed the country membership details and noted that the following national committees had submitted inter-congress reports: China-Hong Kong, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, India, Italy, New Zealand, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. These would be posted on the IGU website in due course along with the Commission and Task Force 2012-16 reports.
Meadows noted that one of the key duties of the IGU Secretary-General is to act as a hub and conduit for communications. This manifests in several different ways, viz. through the biannual publication of the Bulletin, the annual report, the quarterly newsletter (courtesy of former Vice-President Bellezza), and through the IGU website (www.igu-online.org) which is now available in French, Spanish and Arabic versions. IGU has a social media presence though its Facebook page, which has now almost 3000 ‘likes’. Maintaining an updated and accurate database of IGU contacts, especially national committee and commission and task force chairs is one of the major tasks of the Secretary-General. The IGU Journals Project database has recently been thoroughly updated.
Meadows also reported on the diverse activities of the other IGU Executive Committee members, which are now formally reported twice annually and include, inter alia, liaison responsibilities with both national committees (including contact with potential new members and Commissions and Task Forces). EC members attend Commission and Task Force events, reviewing their reports as part of the process that leads to the selection of the winner of the Commission Excellence Award and the inter-congress review. Members of the EC are responsible for the administration of the IGU Travel grant programme, represent IGU (Geography) at national and international events, set-up promotional stands at exhibitions and distribute publicity materials etc. They also provide material for the e-Newsletter, annual report and Bulletin etc. Moreover, the executive act as ‘ears to the ground’ regarding developments, directions and trends in the discipline of geography.
As Treasurer, Meadows presented summary details regarding the financial situation of the IGU, which remains sound, as demonstrated in several tables. This indicate that, although there is a substantial amount of variation between years, income generally exceeds expenditure during most years and the total amount held in the various IGU accounts has increased over time. Therefore, the endowment fund is now growing consistently, due to Promotion and Solidarity Fund contributions from LPCs of the IGU Congresses and Regional Conferences. Past-President Abler, under whose supervision the funds are held in the United States, has agreed to source higher interest rate options for these funds.
Election of the 2016-2020 IGU President and Executive Committee Members
Nominations for vacancies have been received at the IGU Secretariat no later than 1st March 2016. One nomination was received for president (Yukio Himiyama, Japan) and eight individuals were nominated for four vice presidential seats on the IGU Executive Committee.
In a secret ballot, Himiyama was elected President 2016-2020 until the conclusion of the Istanbul 34th International Geographical Congress (43 votes, one abstention). The election for four Vice President vacancies, with the votes cast in their favour, can be seen in the above Point 2 (Minutes of the IGU EC Meeting in Yianjin).
Selection of the Location of the 2024 36th International Geographical Conference
Four invitations to host the IGU Congress in 2024 were received from the following IGU National Committees: Denmark/Sweden (Copenhagen-Malmö); Ireland (Dublin); Australia (Melbourne); Czech Republic (Prague). Following presentations to the General Assembly by representatives of the bids, accordingly to the ballot votes cast Dublin is selected as the location of the 2024 36th International Geographical Congress.
Accordingly, Dublin is selected as the location of the 2024 36th International Geographical Congress.
International Year of Global Understanding
Benno Werlen, Director of the International Year of Global Understanding presented a brief report on progress in respect of the IYGU. Thanks to strong support from ICSU, ISSC and CIPSH, IYGU was officially launched in Jena, Germany, in early February and 2016 was proclaimed the Year of Global Understanding. The infrastructure is based on Regional Action Centres (RACs), which now include Beijing, Belgrade, Buenos Aires, Genoa, Hamilton, Hiroshima, Ibadan, Leipzig, Ljubljana, Luneburg, Melbourne, New Delhi, Quebec, Santiago de Compostela, Skopje, Taipei, Tehran, Tunis, Vilnius, Warsaw, Washington, Zagreb. Numerous RACs have had their official opening ceremonies: Beijing, Genoa, New Delhi, Santiago de Compostela, Taipei, Washington. Other RACs, in Belgrade, Buenos Aires, Hamilton, Leipzig, Melbourne, Skopje, Tunis, Vilnius and Warsaw have begun activities in recent months.
The online IYGU presence has been expanded by adding to and updating the IYGU website (www.global-understanding.info). A Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel have been created and are frequently updated. Media and press coverage increased before and following the opening ceremony. In Germany, the local TV stations, MDR, and Jena TV covered the event, and the Repórter Eco in Brazil, and RTP Portugal discussed the IYGU.
The RAC in Brazil has officially confirmed a partnership with the Brazilian Philosophy Academy-ABF. Further, they have agreements with the National Association of Entities that Promote Innovating Entrepreneurship (ANPROTEC), Organização dos Estados Ibero-americanos (OEI), Engineers Club of Brasilia (CEnB), and the Latin American University of Social Sciences (FLACSO), which have all been lined up to sign. It has been confirmed that H.E. José Manuel Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1996, is the newest IYGU Patron. Currently, Mr. Ramos-Horta is the United Nations’ special representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS).
Many individual projects are underway that deal with the diverse aspects of the IYGU, from science to education and art and music. Concrete progress has been made on three of the Springer Briefs. A partnership has been proposed between the IYGU and the OEI, with the latter offering to translate and potentially publish the six briefs into Spanish and Portuguese. So far, the first three briefs that are nearing publication are: a) Working/Housing/Urbanizing (editors: Jennifer Robinson, Allen Scott, Peter Taylor; release date: August 23, 2016); b) Eating/Drinking/Surviving (editors: Peter Jackson, Walter Spiess, Farhana Sultana; release date: end of August 2016); c) Communicating/Networking/Interacting (editor: Margaret Robertson: release date: mid-September, 2016).
International Charter on Geographical Education
The IGU Commission on Geographical Education has been pioneering efforts to re-establish a revised International Charter on Geographical Education. The charter (attached to these minutes as Appendix A) is due to be officially signed and ratified at a special ceremony at the Beijing IGU 33rd Congress.
Memorandum of Agreement between International Geographical Union
and International Association of Geomorphologists
See above the Appendix B in the IGU EC Meeting minutes).
Meadows outlined the major elements of this initiative which has been launched by inter alia ICSU and ISSC. He noted that it represents a major opportunity for the involvement of geographers, as many of the existing and planned project activities are consistent with the objectives of the IGU, its Commissions and Task Forces. Geographers are encouraged to engage with Future Earth, an initial point of contact being the Future Earth website at: www.futureearth.org.
ICSU and ISSC Merger Proposal
Following discussion over several years, the proposal to formally merge ICSU and ISSC will be presented at a Special Joint ICSU/ISSC General Assembly to take place in Oslo, Norway, on 23rd October 2016. Given that IGU is an active member of both ICSU and ISSC it is acknowledged that its input will be crucial to the development of appropriate structures and operations. Secretary-General Meadows canvassed the opinion of the broader IGU community via email communications: there is widespread support for the proposed merger, with an emerging sense that this must not be at the expense of the social sciences per se. IGU will represent this view at the Joint General Assembly and carefully monitor developments as the merger takes effect.
Announcement of IGU Honors and Awards
See above in the IGU EC Meeting Minutes. Schedule of Future IGU Meetings
See above in the IGU EC Meeting Minutes. Comments by the President-Elect
Himiyama briefly thanked the assembly for having the confidence in him as President of the IGU for the next four years. He paid tribute to the work of outgoing President Kolosov and the Executive Committee and was looking forward to working hard to further the aims of the IGU.
Report of the General Assembly Finance Committee
The General Assembly Finance Committee consisting of Olof Stjernström (Sweden), Carol Harden (United States) and Dan Shrubsole (Canada) reported that, on review of the various statements provided (e.g., bank, Executive Committee expense claims and travel grants), it finds these financial accounts to be in good order. It is recommended that IGU Secretary-General and Treasurer Meadows be discharged from liability for the period 2012 to July 15 2016. The Finance Committee concluded that Meadows has done an excellent job in managing the accounts f the IGU, and that the workload has increased substantially over the last four years. He is thanked for his dedicated service to the IGU.
The Finance Committee observes that since 2008, the size of the IGU’s Operating Account has increased from about $124,000 (US) to over $200,000 (US) (Appendix D). Over the same time period, the grants to commissions and projects has varied between $9300 (US in 2010) to over $89,000 (US in 2013), and has been over $52,000 (US) between 2012 and 2015. As the activities of the IGU and its Commissions increase, these amounts are expected to increase. We note that the IGU has established an endowed fund, which currently has a balance of over $70,000. At present, managing this high level of activity is the responsibility of the Secretary-General and Treasurer, and the review of the accounts is conducted every four years by the Finance Committee, which coincides with the General Assembly.
The Finance Committee believes it is appropriate that the Secretary-General and Treasurer have some assistance in the management of the IGU Accounts. Additionally, since it is already and will become more difficult for the Finance Committee to conduct a thorough review of the IGU accounts, it is recommended that the IGU appoint an appropriate independent auditor to conduct an annual review of the IGU’s financial statements starting in 2017. These audited statements should be made available to the membership via the web every year, and for the past four years at the General Assembly. Any relevant amendments to the IGU statutes should introduced as per accepted procedure.
The Finance Committee also reflected on the comments made at yesterday’s General Assembly by the Secretary-General and Treasurer concerning fluctuations in the South African rand. Given the increasing amounts of funds being managed by the IGU, including the Endowed funds, it is recommended that the IGU Executive seek appropriate advice concerning the desirability and feasibility of reducing its financial risk by adopting a risk management approach to its currency and/or investment portfolios (e.g., GICs, money market, bonds, equity).
In reviewing the accounts, the Finance Committee observed that periodically, it is necessary for the Secretary-Treasurer to travel across national borders with considerable amounts of cash. The Finance Committee found appropriate documentation of these transactions in the form of signed receipts. In order to reduce the need for cash, the Finance Committee recommends the use of e-banking and cheques as much as possible. If cash is required at IGU General Assembly and Regional meetings, the Finance Committee recommends that the Secretary-Treasurer and the Local Organizing Committee collaborate to make arrangements for the cash to be collected by the Secretary Treasurer in the relevant nation.
The assembly unanimously approved the General Assembly Finance Committee’s report.
No items of other business were tabled
Votes of Thanks
President Kolosov offered appropriate expressions of appreciation both to the organizers of the Beijing Congress and to the retiring members of the IGU Executive Committee, Professors Abler, Soyez and Saarinen. The assembly expressed its appreciation in the appropriate manner.
President Kolosov closed the meeting at 16h15 on Wednesday 23rd August 2016.
-Respectfully Submitted, Michael E Meadows, Secretary-General and Treasurer
5) REPORTS FROM CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS
5.1) Association for Borderland Studies, Luxembourg, October 2016
The Association for Borderlands Studies Europe Conference 2016 was held at the University of Luxembourg from 4-7 October, organised in conjunction with the UniGR-Center for Border Studies. The guiding topic of ‘Differences and Discontinuities in a “Europe without borders”’ was selected in 2014, but has not become any less relevant: the political and social events of recent years have pushed aside the idea of a Europe without borders and prompted a border revival. These are not always territorial borders, but also (or even primarily) include invisible borders which operate as economic, social or cultural differences and discontinuities. The two keynote speakers Anne-Laure Szary (Grenoble-Alpes University) and Ulrike Hanna Meinhof (University of Southampton) examined the significance of non-territorial borders in particular and highlighted the role played by scientists and academics in investigating social phenomena.
During the four-day conference, approximately 100 participants discussed borders, differences and discontinuities in their various manifestations across a total of 18 paper sessions, structured around four key topics: mobility and multilocality, multilingualism and diversity, growth and sustainability, and instability and change. The programme also included four excursions, with experts taking conference participants to explore the border areas between Luxembourg and Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, and Germany and France. A particular highlight was the conference dinner, part of a boat tour within the border triangle around the famous Luxembourg village of Schengen.
The work achieved was summarised by the participants in the concluding panel. They highlighted the following points as key to the further development of border studies:
Focus on non-territorial borders: The categories of difference and discontinuity also enable to investigate border demarcation processes in everyday cultural research contexts and allow a greater depth of complexity. However, a focus on non-territorial borders does not supersede the territorial dimension, as differences and discontinuities still have a constant relationship with national and spatial borders. Greater awareness of non-territorial borders helps to create a better understanding of border demarcation processes, vital given the gradual divergences anticipated in Europe.
Further opening to other disciplines: Greater consideration of non-territorial borders requires border studies to open up further to other disciplines. This exchange and dialogue should in particular be with disciplines which primarily deal with the phenomenon of ‘in-between’ and already have suitable conceptual and investigatory tools.
Decentration of borders: The categories of difference and discontinuity reinforce the process perspective involved in investigating border demarcations and border relativisations. Rather than allowing the border to be a subject, they instead enable it to be understood and examined as a multidisciplinary process which materialises in the form of visible borders. This altered analytical perspective allows border studies to also explore border demarcations and border relativisations within national societies.
Frédéric Durand, Astrid Fellner, Martin Klatt, Birte Nienaber (moderating),
Ulrike Hanna Meinhof, Martin van der Velde Comparative perspective and stronger theoretical foundation: The field of border studies is characterised by what has now become an unmanageable number of empirical studies in various different spatial study contexts. In the future, the knowledge thus attained should be subject to greater interconnection from a comparative perspective, in order to gain a better understanding of border demarcations and border relativisations. In addition, this seems to offer the possibility of generating further theoretical foundations and thus positioning border studies on a solid theoretical base.
Strengthening critical perspectives: Taking a critical perspective on the investigation of border demarcation processes is vital, in particular given current events in Europe. This perspective involves considering the role of scientists and academics in the research process and the communication of research findings. It also relates to the development of research questions, which should demonstrate greater sensitivity to the balance of power as well as to the exploitation of (constructed) differences and discontinuities.
The Association for Borderlands Studies’ next Europe Conference will form part of the ABS World Conference 2018 in Vienna/Budapest.
Christian Wille and Birte Nienaber
FROM ICSU NEWSLETTER, SEPTEMBER 2016
Welcome to the September 2016 edition of our newsletter, bringing you highlights from our activities since our last edition in July.
The Council in the Media
Scientist and Governments: The Guardian blog, 28 September 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2016/sep/28/scientists-are-giving-advice-but-are-governments-listening
El Salvador nominated Capital Scientifica, 22 September 2016