Reaching, engaging and supporting ECRs in the atmospheric chemistry community

The Future Earth Assembly 2024

by Martin Ramacher – post-doctoral researcher from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon

The Future Earth Assembly is held once a year and this year, it took place online and in Helsinki, Finland, from June 12-13, 2024, alongside the SRI (Sustainability, Research, Innovation) Congress 2024. In my role as a representative of the IGAC ECR SSC, I had the chance to accompany IGAC director Langley DeWitt to the Future Earth Assembly 2024. 

In case you’ve never heard of it before, Future Earth ( is a global research network aimed at accelerating transformations toward a sustainable world by fostering transdisciplinary research, innovation, policy engagement, capacity building, and communication. Within this global network, the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) project plays a critical role as one of the 27 Global Research Networks (GRN), focusing on atmospheric chemistry and its impacts on climate, air quality, and human health. Besides IGAC, other members of Future Earth include SOLAS, iLEAPS, and AMES, among many others. The Future Earth network of scientists, projects, and international scientific organizations was involved in many groundbreaking publications and projects, such as the concept of planetary boundaries and a safe operating space for humanity by Rockström et al. (2009).

The Assembly aims to provide a platform for broad consultation, enabling the full community of researchers from many disciplines to participate in developing the Future Earth core agenda, strategies, activities, and structures. Day 1 of the Assembly focused on promoting systems-based research discussions to identify key gaps in our current understanding. Day 2 was dedicated to updates and reports from the past year, as well as strategic discussions by all Assembly members to prepare recommendations for the Governing Council.

Day 1 started with a plenary talk by Professor Joyeeta Gupta of the Earth Commission, an international team of social and natural scientists engaging over 60 researchers globally, hosted by Future Earth. In May 2023, the Earth Commission launched the Safe and Just Earth System Boundaries for climate, biodiversity, freshwater, nutrients, and aerosols. These boundaries are a continuation of the work by Rockström et al. and provide one of the most holistic measurements of Earth’s finite limits, marking a significant step in understanding how to protect people and the planet. The results of the Commission’s second major study, focusing more on the justice aspect of these boundaries, were presented at the Future Earth Assembly. It was an inspiring and motivating presentation that underscored the importance of working internationally, inclusively, across and beyond disciplines to solve the world’s most pressing issues with science.

For me, this spirit was alive in the workshops and especially the breakout sessions on various topics. Early Career Researchers, alongside established and renowned researchers from all corners of the world, were present and working together. The plenary discussions were enriched by the diversity of the attending researchers, and there was a high awareness of topics such as the need to build fair partnerships in global research (overcoming helicopter or parachute science) and supporting ECRs more strongly. Of course, there were also plenty of opportunities for networking during breaks and after the assembly. 

Although it was my first time at the Future Earth Assembly, I was warmly welcomed by the community and left with good memories and ideas. It was truly a motivating event and community, which I can really recommend following in case you are interested in sustainability or international scientific networks.