LANGUAGE of the Anthropocene

Scientists sampling water upstream Nairobi river

Lessons in anthropogenic impact: a knowledge network of geological signals to unite and assess global evidence of the Anthropocene

UNESCO Project IGCP 732


Principal Investigator:
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Michael Wagreich (University of Vienna)

Mehwish Bibi (Pakistan)
Barbara Fialkiewicz-Koziel (Poland)
Juliana Ivar do Sul (Brazil)
Lydia Olaka (Kenia)
Catherine Russell (UK)
Maria Luisa Garcia Tejada (Japan)
Luyuan Zhang (China)

Research Administrator: Veronika Koukal (Vienna)

Duration: 2021 - 2026

Present and future Geology – the global scale evidence of the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene establishes a powerful concept associated with unprecedented global change. Both recognizing and managing this novel situation in a sustainable way requires a planetary network and accompanying knowledge framework. This project aims to engage new ideas and networks in the development of the Anthropocene concept by cooperating globally with scientists, especially those in developing and less developed countries. The core aims are to unite and assess global evidence of the Anthropocene and to establish the Anthropocene as a fertile framework for future geosciences. This will be achieved by 1) developing a network of expertise and project partners globally; 2) designing and running workshops in developing countries; and 3) designing and collating an open database of existing information and expertise on the Anthropocene.

Communities around the globe are facing unique challenges in the Anthropocene, yet most stratigraphic studies related to contemporary geological successions are located within developed countries (see GSSP map) or are carried out by scientific teams from developed countries. The limitations caused by this geographically distorted perspective means that we are almost certainly missing some important signals. In developing and least developed countries, the environment may currently be undergoing radical transformations and anthropogenic materials may be more obviously part of the active geological cycle, hence communities can be more directly affected by anthropogenic issues. Impacts of waste, chemicals, and environmental pressure on the landscape, water supply, and other essential resources, are challenges that geoscientists recognize, adapt to, and address.

A major challenge that comes with this research is finding a common language to discuss the Anthropocene. Due to its interdisciplinary nature, a shared vocabulary among scientists still needs to be established which this project aims to do in creating a globally accessible knowledge database. This is intended to facilitate dialogue between scientists and to empower stratigraphers in developing countries to contribute to the ongoing Anthropocene debate.


LANGUAGE of the Anthropocene: Kick-Off Meeting

18-19 Oct 2021: First meeting of the UNESCO Project IGCP 732 “LANGUAGE - Lessons in Anthropogenic Impact: A Knowledge Network of Geological Signals to unite and assess Global Evidence of the Anthropocene” (organised by the University of Vienna)

Recordings available here.

Find more project activities on the IGCP 732 project website.