Planning for the 2012 IGU Conference in Cologne ( is now well and truly underway.  The first meeting of the international Scientific Committee was held from 12th to 15th May at the University.  The objectives were to discuss the state-of-the-art in the scientific fields of the selected
key topics, to finalise the session selection for the key topics and plan the process of selecting papers.  The Congress, under the motto ‘Down to Earth’, will introduce several innovations in an effort to revitalise and invigorate the IGU.  There is a prominent thematic strand under four key topics (Global Change & Globalisation; Society & Environment; Risks & Conflicts; Urbanisation & Demographic Change) as well as the traditional opportunity for Commissions and Task Forces to offer a platform for their activities.  In addition there is a Young Researchers Forum, parallel symposia (Didactics and Applied Geography) and the IGU Olympiad (iGeo) with active participation of school learners from up to 40 countries.  The Scientific Committee, under the leadership of  Frauke Kraas and Dietrich Soyez, has made great strides in ensuring that both the relevance and the quality of papers at the meeting, to be held in from 26th to 30th August 2012, will be outstanding.  The first circular is already available, while the second circular will be circulated shortly.  Front row: Boris Braun, Cologne; Surinder Aggarwal, India; Zaiga Krishane, Latvia; Rafiq Ahmed, Bangladesh; Nigel Tapper, Australia; Second row: Detlev Mueller-Mahn, Bayreuth; Lee Boon-Thong, Malaysia; Jean Radvanyi, Russia; Hans Stoetter, Austria; Frauke Kraas, Cologne; Ben Wisner, USA; Helmut Brueckner, Cologne; Third Row: Guenter Thieme, Cologne; Huib Ernste, Netherlands; Herve Thierry, Brazil; Hans Gebhardt, Heidelberg; Martin Coy, Austria; Derek Gregory, Canada; Christian Schulz, Luxembourg. Unable to be present: Taifur Agoumy, Morocco; Patrick Nunn, Fiji; Yvette Veyret, France; Li Xiubin, China; Hans-Rudolf Bork, Kiel; Ruediger Glaser, Freiburg.