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Geoethics

'Cape Town Statement on Geoethics'
This article appeared in March, 2017

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The rapid growth of developing economies and the fundamental needs of many people across the globe are resulting in an increased demand for many resources - but what if exploiting those resources fundamentally alters the societal and environmental balance in the area where they are found? What are the responsibilities involved in geologists publicly discussing the risks and probability of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions? Do we acknowledge and attempt to alleviate the public's fears about the oil and gas industry? These and many other issues come under the umbrella of geoethics.

Interest in the ethical aspects of geoscience knowledge, education, research and practice is increasing; largely as a result of the work undertaken by the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG), a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary, scientific network with more than 1,350 members in 110 countries. Established to widen the discussion and create awareness about issues of ethics applied to the geosciences, the IAPG has been at the forefront of the debate around 'what are geoethics?'.

Geoscience organizations around the world now recognize geoethics as an important issue, as confirmed by the quality and level of participation in the technical and panel sessions on geoethics at the 35th International Geological Congress (IGC), held in 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. 

The 35th IGC event opened a new phase for geoethics, resulting in the "Cape Town Statement on Geoethics" (CTSG), a document culminating from an international effort to focus the attention of geoscientists on the development of shared policies, guidelines, strategies and tools, with the goal of fostering the standard adoption of ethical values and practices in the geoscience community. The final document (see link below) sums the values and concepts developed in the first 4-years of the IAPG, providing a framework for the future development of geoethics.

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