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The role of Earth and environmental science in addressing sustainable development priorities in Eastern Africa

Gill, Joel C. ORCID:, Mankelow, Joseph and Keely, Mills 2019. The role of Earth and environmental science in addressing sustainable development priorities in Eastern Africa. Environmental Development 30 , pp. 3-20. 10.1016/j.envdev.2019.03.003

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Here we synthesise the results of three participatory workshops to explore sustainable development priorities in eastern Africa, and discuss these in the context of Earth and environmental science. The planet is a core pillar of sustainable development, and the engagement of Earth and environmental scientists is vital to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2017, the British Geological Survey gathered 76 delegates from 48 organisations at three workshops in Nairobi (Kenya), Lusaka (Zambia), and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). Using the SDGs as a reference tool, participants (i) identified development priorities at regional (eastern Africa) and national scales, (ii) explored the Earth and environmental science research and data needs to help address these, and (iii) co-designed relevant science-for-development projects. Participants identified sustainable development priorities to be basic (or immediate) needs, including zero hunger (SDG 2), education (SDG 4), ending poverty (SDG 1), and water and sanitation (SDG 6). Participants also described examples of Earth and environmental science research, training, technologies, monitoring and management to support sustainable development. Emerging themes included environmental data (collection, management, integration, access), policy and regulations (integrating environmental science, and policy coherence), resource management (degradation, pollution and environmental protection), and scientific education and understanding (training, knowledge exchange, public understanding of science). A comparative synthesis of existing regional and national development strategies indicates that current narratives of development interventions do not fully capture the opportunities from environmental data integration and policy coherence. Greater engagement with and by the Earth and environmental science community could help to advance these themes to support sustainable development in eastern Africa. This would support efforts to reduce environmental degradation, improve natural resource management, and inform the utilisation of natural resources to improve economic growth and social wellbeing.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 2211-4645
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 August 2022
Date of Acceptance: 4 March 2019
Last Modified: 17 May 2023 16:29

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