In February 2014 the ESM Board decided to appoint Sospeter Muhongo, currently Minister of Energy and Resources in the United Republic of Tanzania, Patron of the ESM Foundation. Patron is the highest category of recognition given to individuals in the ESM system. A plaque was presented to Sospeter Muhongo during the Opening Ceremony of the CAG25 Conference in Dar es Salaam, on 14 August. The laudatio by ESM’s Executive Director is given below.
Prof. Muhongo has a long standing reputation in the international Earth Sciences, not only conceptually but also in communicating the Earth sciences to society. Under the banner ’Earth Sciences for Society’, Prof. Muhongo has been deeply involved in the IUGS-UNESCO International Geoscience Programme IGCP, both in its management, in its restructuring and in communicating the results of this Programme to the benefit of humankind. In a comparable but more general way Prof. Muhongo did that in the framework of the International Council for Sciences, ICSU, where he headed the Regional Office in South Africa and where he demonstrated that science can make a big step forward in improving the basic needs of the African continent. In the same spirit he served as the President of the Geological Society of Africa for a six year period, from 1995 to 2001. It was therefore no surprise that Prof. Muhongo became actively involved in the UN proclaimed International Year of Planet Earth, a joint initiative of IUGS and UNESCO. In fact his input, together with that of Tanzanian UNESCO Representative Mohammed Sheya and the Director of UNESCO’s Earth Science Division Wolfgang Eder, paved the way towards a successful UN Proclamation for 2008. Prof. Muhongo became responsible for the Science Programme of the IYPE which resulted in publication of an impressive book series on almost all ten themes of the IYPE. The International Year of Planet Earth became quite a success, particularly in terms of outreach. Due to Prof. Muhongo’s efforts many African nations became part of the big IYPE family and contributed actively. Their contribution was highlighted at the African IYPE Launch Event held in Arusha in May 2008, in the presence of the President of the Republic and the UNESCO Director General. The IYPE, and more in particular the Global Launch Event in Paris, February 2008, has been the craddle of the Young Earth Science (YES) Network, where early-career African geoscientists have been key in developing this initiative to its current over 3000 membership. The International Year of Planet Earth was succeeded by the Earth Science Matters Foundation which particularly focussed on the successful but not yet fully exploited outreach aspects of the geosciences. Again, Prof. Muhongo has been a key player in this initiative through his Board position of this ESM Foundation. Tirelessly, he went on in getting African nations on board resulting in the currently highest representation of African nations as National Focal Points of the Earth Science Matters Foundation. When Prof. Muhongo became appointed as Minister of Energy and Minerals of the United Republic of Tanzania he stepped down as an ESM Board Member. The Earth Science Matters Foundation is very grateful for what Prof. Muhongo contributed to and achieved for the Earth sciences at international levels in general and for the promotion of the geosciences in particular. The ESM Board therefore decided to bestow Prof. Muhongo with the honours of Patronship of the Foundation. With the greatest pleasure I hand over the token of appreciation connected to the position, an honour granted to no other person yet.