The Union is a purely scientific organization. Its objectives are the promotion and coordination of physical, chemical and mathematical studies of the Earth and its environment in space.
These studies include the shape of the Earth, its gravitational and magnetic fields, the dynamics of the Earth as a whole and of its component parts, the Earth’s internal structure, composition and tectonics, the generation of magmas, volcanism and rock formation, the hydrological cycle including snow and ice, all aspects of the oceans, the atmosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere and solar-terrestrial relations, and analogous problems associated with the Moon and other planets. Union activities embrace studies of the Earth by artificial satellites and other techniques for deploying instruments at high altitude.
The IUGG has initiated and vigorously supported collaborative efforts that have led to highly productive world-wide interdisciplinary research programs (see Table below). These programs have set a model for international, inter- and trans- disciplinary cooperation. The IUGG cooperates with UNESCO in the study of related to oceanography and hydrology. It also gives particular emphasis to the scientific problems of Developing Countries by sponsoring activities relevant to the scientific needs of the Third World (e.g. Geodesy in Africa, Water Resources, etc.).