The Initiative

“Building bridges between global thinking and local action”

The International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences (CIPSH) have jointly announced 2016 as the “International Year of Global Understanding – IYGU” (, in an effort to demonstrate the role of local actions to global challenges, faced nowadays by our planet.

More specifically, the goal of the "2016 - International Year of Global Understanding - IYGU" initiative is to increase comprehension on the way actions at the local level affect the global level; and reveal locally implemented good practices and policies that can contribute to the relief of global problems, such as climate change, food security, migration, etc.

The announcement of 2016 as International Year of Global Understanding implies the promotion of a range of initiatives and actions at the local level, i.e. a “bottom-up” approach, which aspires to have a complementary, yet decisive, role in the “top-down” approach, as this is expressed by on-going negotiations and efforts at the global level. Through these initiatives and actions, the increase of understanding of the role of personal behaviour and choices in the creation, but also the solution, of global problems will be pursued; while the gap in awareness between local acts and their global effects through research, education, and information actions will be bridged. Bridging this gap is expected to contribute to “bottom-up” action undertaking that is based on the increased knowledge stock and awareness of citizens, decision makers, institutions etc. at the local, regional and national level.

Coordination of actions of the “2016 - International Year of Global Understanding” initiative is carried out by the International Geographical Union (IGU). The effort is supported by a number of Regional Action Centers – RACs, i.e. local action groups taking over a range of communication, training and research initiatives in various countries worldwide. Executive Director of IYGU on behalf of IGU is Prof. Benno Werlen (, Department of Geography, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany.