After a courageous struggle, International Geographical Union (IGU) President Adalberto Vallega succumbed to cancer on November 22, 2006, in Liguria, Italy. He was seventy-two. Vallega carried out his duties as IGU President with his habitual thoroughness and vigor throughout rigorous courses of surgery and chemotherapy in the eighteen months preceding his death. He represented the IGU at the Festival International de Géographie in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges at the end of September and remained actively engaged in IGU affairs until a few days before his demise.
Prior to his election as IGU President at the Glasgow International Geographical Congress in August 2004, Vallega served as a Vice President of the IGU from 1996 to 2000 and as First Vice President from 2000 to 2004. He had earlier founded the IGU Study Group on Marine Geography that later became the IGU Commission on Marine Geography. During his 1996-2000 tenure as an IGU Vice President, Vallega promoted the “Oceans 21—Science for the Sustainable Use of Ocean and Coastal Zones Program” in cooperation with the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission of the United Nations Economic, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a program designed to promote interdisciplinary research on deep-ocean and coastal management. Vallega was instrumental in founding the Villa Celimontana—Home of Geography office in Rome, which houses the IGU’s archives and provides a meeting place for geographers. Among numerous other responsibilities he undertook for IGU, Vallega was its representative at the UNESCO World Conference on Science in 1999.
As IGU President, Vallega’s priorities were the establishment of the Mediterranean Renaissance Program, a cooperative multinational research and instructional program focused on problems and questions specific to the Mediterranean and adjacent areas, and the IGU’s Cultures and Civilizations for Human Development (CCHD) initiative, which he conceived, designed, and launched. The goals of the CCHD initiative are 1) to adopt approaches and undertake actions for valuing cultural identities and encouraging inter-cultural and inter-civilizational cooperation, with a view toward pursuing the Millennium goals concerned with social concerns, and helping the operation of UNESCO conventions pertaining to intangible cultural heritage, cultural identities and manifestations of cultural diversity; and 2) to propose to the United Nations the proclamation of an international year on inter-cultural and inter-civilizational collaboration for human development.
Vallega was professor of urban and regional geography at the University of Genoa, Italy. His teaching encompassed human, urban, and regional geography, including coastal management and cultural geography. In addition to his role as professor, Vallega served as Director of the university’s Institute of Geographical Sciences and the Department of Urban, Regional and Landscape Planning. He was also head of the Faculty of Education. Vallega held leadership roles in several geographic organizations, serving as president of the Association of Italian Geographers (1983-85), a member of the executive committee member of the Italian Geographical Society (1985-97), and chairman of the Italian Committee for the International Geographical Union (IGU).
In 1992 Vallega was the scientific coordinator of the “International Conference on Ocean Management in Global Change,” held in Italy with the cooperation of the United Nations as part of the Celebrations for the Discovery of the Americas. In 1993 he designed and promoted the establishment of the International Centre for Coastal and Ocean Policy Study (ICCOPS), which was accredited to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, recognised as a non-governmental organisation of the United Nations Environment Programme/Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP) and given observer status with regard to the Barcelona Convention. In 1998 he served as scientific coordinator of the “International Conference on Education and Training in Integrated Coastal Area Management” held in Italy to celebrate the 1998 International Year of the Ocean with the co-operation of UNESCO, IOC, the United Nations International Development Organisation (UNIDO), and (UNEP/MAP) and with the support of the European Commission.
Vallega was a respected member of many scientific organizations and institutions, including the Academia Europæa, and was a scientific consultant to the Italian navy. The University of Nantes recognized Vallega’s work on ocean and coastal zone management with its Laurea Honoris Causa in 2001. The University of Bucharest designated him Doctor Honoris Causa in March 2006. He was the author of more than twenty books, in Italian, French, English, and Spanish, and more than 300 journal articles and papers. Further details of his accomplishments and publications are available at www.vallega.it
Messages of condolence to Adalberto’s wife Bruna and the family may be addressed in care of the IGU Home of Geography in Rome (firstname.lastname@example.org). Donations in Adalberto’s memory may be made to the IGU Promotion and Solidarity Fund at the IGU Secretariat. The fund provides travel grants and research awards to young geographers and those from developing countries. Details regarding wire transfers to the Promotion and Solidarity Fund are available from the secretariat.
Adalberto Vallega (Necrology). 2007. AAG Newsletter 42(1): 26.