1Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia
The importance of trusted, high-quality and relevant geoscience to inform and advise governments and our communities is greater now than it ever has been. This is particularly the case for guiding people’s connection to the Earth as the place where we live and obtain the resources we use to live our lives.
Our community’s recognition of the value of geoscience, ensures the future viability and evolution of geoscience and its ability to contribute to informed impact in our region and its nations. Here we consider some of the societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the key roles that geoscience plays, in particular how our society can use data, information and knowledge of the Earth to better connect us with the Earth-system and therefore best respond to the impacts of the pandemic. Ultimately, informed decisions utilising the best geoscience data and information provides a key part of our economic, environmental and cultural recovery from the pandemic. The connection to country that comes from personal experience has been especially challenged in 2020. Much of Australia’s population have been encouraged to stay in our homes, first because of major fires (the scale and intensity that we have not recorded before) and more recently in response to isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has increased the importance of trusted data and information from across our nation.
This presentation highlights the value of understanding the depths of our planet and ways that geoscience governs our discovery and use of minerals, energy and groundwater resources, as well as builds resilience and adaptation to environmental and cultural change. The broad definition of geoscience here also includes the involvement of geoscience that extends to Australia’s space program, including delivery of Earth observations, positioning and location data and information, such as through integrated digital mapping, satellite data and real-time precise positioning. Important here is sharing, with two-way exchange of data, information and knowledge about the Earth, through outreach in geoscience education programs and interactions with communities across Australia. An aspiration here is for geoscience to inform social licence through evidence-based decisions, such as for land and marine access, for a strong economy, resilient society and sustainable environment.
At Geoscience Australia, we have developed a ten year strategic plan (Strategy 2028) and Science Strategy that guides us to be a trusted source of information on Australia’s geology and geography for government, industry and community decision making. This will contribute to a safer, more prosperous and well-informed Australia.
Dr Steve Hill is the Chief Scientist at Geoscience Australia. He is responsible for strategic science leadership, influence, and external engagement. He completed a BSc (Hons) at the University of Melbourne and a PhD at the Australian National University, spending nearly 20 years as a lecturer before joining government geoscience.