in the international arena with strong promise of high return value to the nation and the USGS together with strategies that may enable the USGS to bypass some of the potential impediments to engaging effectively in international science activities.
Global Earth science, including deep understanding of ecological systems, is critical, and becoming more so, as populations increase and access to resources becomes more challenging. The world is increasingly interconnected, and global environmental problems frequently impact the United States. The USGS plays an essential role in the systematic mapping, monitoring, and study of the Earth to fulfill wide-ranging national needs for information on diverse Earth systems. Although the committee noted caution on the part of the USGS in fully promoting its numerous and broad-ranging accomplishments in the international arena, the USGS can be justifiably proud of its widely recognized and successful international activities in global Earth science.
RECOMMENDATION: As a necessary first step to strengthen and enhance USGS international science activities, USGS leadership, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Interior, should fully embrace and unequivocally commit to international science as a fundamental part of the USGS’ aim “to help our Nation and the world” (Gundersen et al., 2011, p. 3) and should be open and clear about this work—internally and externally.
The committee found that USGS scientists are conducting excellent work in international science, as described in Chapter 3 of this report. Current activities include mitigating humanitarian crises through technical assistance in natural disaster response and in local capacity building, the advancement of science through interdisciplinary and international collaborations, natural resource assessments, and the promotion of national interests through science diplomacy, technical aid, and other means. However, the continuum of global problems and issues requiring urgent attention for which the Survey has relevant expertise makes this a critical time for greater USGS involvement in international science on behalf of our national interests. The USGS is especially well positioned in terms of its multidisciplinary expertise and organizational capabilities to play either a leading or collaborative role, both in the United States and internationally, in addressing Earth science problems that will arise as conditions and processes change on our planet.
RECOMMENDATION: The USGS should play an expanded, proactive role in international Earth science, consistent with, and building upon, its present strengths and science directions. In developing this expanded role, the USGS should assess how it can serve as a collaborative international leader in strategically addressing a range of urgent worldwide problems that affect U.S. interests. These include, but are not limited to natural-resource shortfalls, escalating