Keynote Speakers

Prof. Janet Dwyer, Professor of Rural Policy and Director of the Countryside and Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire

More about Prof. Janet Dwyer

Janet is Professor of Rural Policy and Director of the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire: an inter-disciplinary group researching rural policy and rural change in the UK, Europe and internationally ( Janet trained in Biology and Agricultural Economics, from which she developed a longstanding interest in understanding the Common Agricultural Policy and its impact upon the environment and rural communities across Europe. She is an experienced analyst and evaluator of EU and UK agriculture, rural development and environmental policies, with expertise in integrated approaches, agri-environment, LEADER, sustainable development and institutional adaptation. Recent studies have included an analysis of the potential impact of Brexit upon Agriculture and rural areas in Wales, a major study investigating how best to support the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from farming and forestry across the EU (PEGASUS –; evaluations of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) for England in 2010 and 2015; and support to the Government of Malta in planning its RDP for 2014-2020. In 2017 she undertook an OECD-sponsored research fellowship in Japan to study challenges for sustainable management of cultural landscapes (Satoyama) in Japanese rural policies.

Janet is a founder member of the Uplands Alliance, an elected Associate of the Royal Agricultural Societies UK and member of the French Academie d’Agriculture, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Executive member of the Agricultural Economics Society.

Talk Title and Abstract

Towards sustainability and resilience: the value of social processes

Much has been researched and written on the nature of future global challenges and the importance of promoting more sustainable and resilient social-ecological systems, as we move further into the 21st Century. Pioneering science has shed light on the potential to harness new techniques and technologies in order to enable transformational change across the world, conserving natural resources and coping with climate change whilst simultaneously addressing the root causes of past environmental and climate damage. However, effective change requires that individuals, communities and societies engage fundamentally with this agenda. In the arena of rural resource use, a growing body of interdisciplinary and social science research highlights the critical importance of people and social processes in achieving sustainability through policies and practice. Drawing from a wide range of recent projects, from assessing the implications of Brexit for rural Wales to working with farmers and landowners to test novel soil and water management approaches, ways in which sustainability thinking becomes embedded in agricultural, economic and social values and practices will be examined. The presentation will conclude with an agenda for future action that emphasises people, community and culture as a vital ingredient in the mix.

Prof. Patricia Thornley, Director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute, Aston University and Director, Supergen Bioenergy Hub

More about Prof. Patricia Thornley

Prof Patricia Thornley is a chartered physicist with 25 years experience working in sustainable energy systems in the UK and overseas. She has led the EPSRC Supergen bioenergy hub since 2012, was appointed EPSRC/BBSRC Supergen leader for bioenergy in 2017 and has recently been appointed as director of the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University. Her research interests focus on environmental impact assessment of alternative fuel supply (including process modelling and life cycle assessment) and integrated assessment of the environmental, economic and social impacts of energy systems. She is editor in chief of the journal Biomass and Bioenergy, is the UK nominated representative on the European Technology and Innovation Platform for biotechnology and bioenergy and chairs the advisory board for the Committee on Climate Change’s bioenergy report.

Talk Title and Abstract

What next for (bio)energy?

Bioenergy is a technology that can be low carbon, but its implementation to date has been controversial. This presentation will examine the diversity of bioenergy systems and impacts, focusing on the challenges associated with sustainable production and conversion. It will critically examine the frameworks in place to promote sustainability and their effectiveness at delivering local, national and global policy objectives. It will consider the governance of bioenergy systems and how frameworks could be designed which allow us to maximize the opportunities associated with sustainable systems while minimizing risks and improving transparency and efficiency in certification and approval schemes. While focused on bioenergy wider conclusions will be drawn relevant to how we incentivize and monitor low carbon energy systems.

Prof. Camilla Toulmin, Senior Associate and former Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development

More about Prof. Camilla Toulmin

Dr Camilla Toulmin is Senior Associate at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and its former Director (2003-2015). She also holds a professorship at Lancaster University where she focuses on linking research and practice on environment and development in Africa. An economist by training, she has worked mainly in Africa on agriculture, land, climate and livelihoods. This has combined field research, policy analysis and advocacy. Her work has aimed at understanding how environmental, economic and political change impact on people’s lives, and how policy reform can bring real change on the ground. This has combined field research, policy analysis, capacity building and advocacy. It has involved engaging with people at many different levels from farmers and researchers, to national governments, NGOs, donor agencies and international bodies.

A Fellow of the Open Society Foundations (2016-2017) and Honorary Research Associate at the Food Studies Group, University of Oxford, she is currently completing a longitudinal study of her former field-work sites in central Mali, to document change over 35 years in farming livelihoods in this dry, risk-prone environment. This will be published early 2019.

Camilla studied Economics at Cambridge and London, before gaining her doctorate in Economics at Oxford. Her doctoral thesis was published by OUP: Cattle, women and wells: Managing household survival in the Sahel. Camilla is fluent in English and French. She is Chair of tve, and the Advisory Board of the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP), member of the Grantham Research Institute Advisory Board, trustee of the Little Sparta Trust, Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, TWIN, and the Institut Français d’Ecosse.

Talk Title and Abstract

How can we accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy – locally and globally?

The Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 set a clear target for all nations to shift to a low carbon economy, to protect our collective atmosphere from the worst impacts of climate chaos. Given the very different responsibilities and resources open to each country, what does this commitment mean in practice – in rich, poor and middle income nations? Can such a challenge form the basis for a fairer, cleaner more sustainable economy, and how can we all get there faster? This talk looks at the options for different countries, including the winners, losers, and trade-offs and considers how we can speed the transformation of our economic systems to meet the Paris targets.