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EGU news EGU statement on Scientific Neocolonialism for Earth Day

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European Geosciences Union

EGU statement on Scientific Neocolonialism for Earth Day

22 April 2023

Earth Day is an annual initiative celebrating the progress that we as a society have made in our efforts to protect our planet from the impacts of global anthropogenic climate change, whilst also acknowledging the actions that still need to be taken. This Earth Day, the European Geosciences Union (EGU) is issuing a statement on the impacts of scientific neocolonialism on geoscientific research, recognising that if we are to continue to make scientific advances, all peoples of the world must be equally included in research activities, regardless of their geographical location.

EGU’s President Helen Glaves, who proposed this statement with the support of the EGU Publications Committee and Chair Barbara Ervens, and the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, says “It is vital that we as a geoscientific society, recognise the potential for European-based researchers to unfairly benefit from studies or fieldwork performed in other parts of the world, with little to no involvement or credit given to local researchers. As an organisation that values scientific excellence, including through the publication of thousands of scientific papers each year, it is important that this high quality science is supported by inclusive and transparent research practices.”

EGU is making this statement this Earth Day as a call to action for all researchers to consider their own activities and join us in ensuring that high quality geoscientific research is equitable and inclusive.

EGU statement on the inclusion of global research:

“EGU’s vision is to share, publish, promote and collaborate on the latest geoscience research. This extends to raising awareness of potentially exploitative practices that are often referred to as ‘helicopter research’ or ‘parachute science’. These take place when researchers from (often higher-income or more privileged) settings perform research in resource-poor settings with limited to no involvement of local communities or researchers. Such practices may be considered ‘scientific neocolonialism’ as they take advantage of local infrastructures but do not contribute to the inclusion and equal acknowledgement of local researchers. They also lead to the lack of recognition of the value of local knowledge and expertise for enhancing geoscience research.

EGU strives to raise awareness of such imbalances in global research through our diverse activities such as:

  • initiating and supporting collaborative efforts with sibling geoscience organizations, publishers, funding agencies and policymakers to further raise awareness of exploitative research practices in the geosciences.
  • organizing spotlight sessions, debates and symposium dedicated to these issues during the EGU General Assembly and other geoscience conferences.
  • encouraging the inclusiveness of authors and their contributions in presentations, publications, policy reports and data products to give due and full credit for all contributions, and appropriately documenting such participation

These activities serve to further enhance EGU’s efforts to foster equality, diversity and inclusion within the global geosciences community.”

More information

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is the leading organisation for Earth, planetary and space science research in Europe. With our partner organisations worldwide, we foster fundamental geoscience research, alongside applied research that addresses key societal and environmental challenges. Our vision is to realise a sustainable and just future for humanity and for the planet. We publish a number of diverse scientific journals, which use an innovative open access format, and organise topical meetings, and education and outreach activities. Follow the EGU on social media.