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Geographical societies join forces

Representatives of the geographical societies of Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand and Africa gathered last March in the offices of the Royal Geographical Society in London, England, to issue a joint statement on climate change. Not only was it a collegial meeting of minds, it was history in the making.

“This is the first time this kind of international collaboration has taken place,” says Gisèle Jacob, President of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. “Even more special, our joint statement on climate change had its origins in the International Polar Year 2007-2009.”

The RCGS spearheaded the initiative, inviting the participation of other geographical societies that publish popular magazines. The Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers), the Africa Geographic Society, the Australian Geographic Society and the New Zealand Geographic Trust joined the RCGS to prepare the joint statement, which outlines the role that geographical societies, with their strong focus on education, can play in the climate-change arena. All agreed that similar future collaborations should be pursued.

The same meeting also led to a historic collaboration among the societies’ magazines, which has resulted in this issue’s package of climate-change stories from around the world. The project’s ongoing legacy will be a travelling exhibit of the articles’ photographs, to debut this fall at Canada House in London.

— Shawna Wagman

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