On September 8, 2021, the 3rd Session of the Governing Council of the IUGS Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) Program was held as a videoconference. The session was attended by 35 experts, including:
- President: Mike Stephenson (MHS), Professor, Executive Chief Scientist, British Geological Survey (BGS)
- John Ludden (JL), Professor, President, International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS)
- Mauro Soldati (MS), Professor, President, International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG)
- Manuel Pubellier (MP), CNRS Ecole Normale Supérieure, CGMW
- David A. T. Harper (DH), Chair, International Commission on Stratigraphy ICS）
- Guangsheng Yan (GY), Chief Geoscientist, China Geological Survey
- Oleg Petrov (OP), Director General, Russian Geological Research Institute (VSEGEI)
- Daniel Lebel (DL), Director General, Geological Survey of Canada of Natural Resources Canada
- Reimar Seltman (RS), Research Leader of Natural History Museum, Chief adviser of IAGOD
- Qiuming Cheng (QC), Past President of IUGS
- Chengshan Wang, Chair of DDE Executive Committee
The session was devoted to the report on main results of the Executive Committee session held on August 18, 2021, proposals for organizing a joint DDE-UNESCO event, proposals for new priority projects for DDE. Issues of organization of DDE activity, including supplements to its Statute, size of annual fees, statuses of DDE members were also discussed.
Professor John Ladden, the current President of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), was the guest speaker. In his presentation, he emphasized the positive role of DDE activities in the work of IUGS and the necessity of DDE's contribution to the development of the human community and geo-engineering. Also important, in his opinion, is establishing close communication between geological surveys of the world, DDE and various scientific committees.
Natarajan Ishwaran, the DDE advisor, in his presentation on main outcomes of the Executive Committee Session (August 18, 2021) noted that the Executive Committee had transmitted recommendations to the Scientific Committee on five projects in April. Two of them, on Marginal Seas and Geological Mapping were revised and finalized, and agreements for their implementation have been signed or are being signed.
The Geoscience Data Standards project has been revised and approved, and the agreement for its implementation is under preparation. The ICS (Digitizing Stratigraphic Record) project and the China Node Project are in progress. The main funding agency for DDE in 2022 is the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Kunshan City Government.
The Executive Board session also discussed the preparation of the Geothermal Energy Atlas and establishing Critical Minerals Task/Working Group. These issues are still being discussed.
A joint DDE/UNESCO event (DDE-UNESCO Community Forum) is planned to be organized at UNESCO headquarters in Paris (France) between 15 and 20 February 2022 or at the next session of the European Geological Union (EGU) at the beginning of April 2022 in Austria. This meeting will help inform geological associations of European countries about the success of the DDE and attract new European members. It was noted that UNESCO became a member of the DDE Advisory Body, and that UNESCO will be represented by Shamila-Nair Bedouelle, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Natural Sciences.
Regarding financial support for DDE, Natarajan Ishwaran noted that it is necessary to look for industrial partners, who could sponsor the program. It was said that currently there were 18 Founding Members listed in the DDE Web. The last to join at the time of the Governing Council session in January 2021 was the Indian Geological Survey. In 2021, the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) agreed to become the 19th DDE founding member. The official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with the IMA is planned at near future international event (e.g. the DDE-UNESCO Forum), scheduled for the 1st quarter of 2022.
At the end of the Governing Council session, Mike Stephenson (Chairman of the DDE Governing Council) announced that he would soon step down due to his retirement. The issue of electing the vacant position of the Chairman of the DDE Governing Council will be decided within the next 2 months.