Catherine Hickson, Geological Survey of Canada (Canada)
Fernando Muņoz-Carmona, MAP:GAC (United States)
Mike Ellerbeck, Geological Survey of Canada (Canada)
MAP:GAC Community Communications Team, MAP:GAC (Canada)
Geoscience institutions achieve social relevance by demonstrating the importance of their work for social transformation. One of the greatest challenges faced by geoscientific institutions is the transformation of scientific knowledge into actions that improve the quality of life for the communities they serve. To address this issue, the geological surveys of Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, in a cooperative project with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency collaborated to create the Multinational Andean Project: Geosciences for Andean Communities (MAP: GAC). In this project the geological surveys have gone beyond their traditional role of scientific reporting. They have implemented an innovative community communications strategy using geoscience knowledge as the foundation. In each country, their respective survey has joined forces with other institutions and beneficiary communities to build a base incorporating social, political, scientific and other types of knowledge to be applied to reducing community vulnerability to geologic hazards.
The community communications concept is based on the premise that regions facing danger from geological hazards need to involve generators of knowledge (e.g. geological surveys, emergency managers, planners), proponents of solutions (decision makers), and financiers of these solutions (central government, funding agencies, NGO's and banking institutions, for example) in order to ensure the timely transformation of geoscience knowledge into risk reducing actions. These actions can take the form of either structural or non structural mitigation, but, by involving all affected parties in the decision making process, there is much more likelihood that the decisions will be adopted and solutions applied.
Through MAP: GAC, geoscience knowledge was generated, transferred and applied to three lines of action: emergency protocol design and implementation; land use planning; and design and implementation of prevention-mitigation civil works. Starting in 2003, each of the participant countries initiated pilot projects as a way to learn and understand the key elements and aspects of knowledge transformation.
The results in every case were positive to varying degrees and have been published in a volume under the Chilean Multinational Series, Publicación Geológica Multinacional, ISSN 0717-3733. As a result of these case studies, and with the leadership of community representatives and involved institutions, replication activities and new projects are in development.