03 April 2012
Representing Oxford University at
Planet under Pressure
ECI took on the role of coordinating Oxford University’s presence at the recent Planet under Pressure conference in London’s Excel Centre, March 26-29th. The conference was the world’s largest gathering of experts to discuss possible environmental and social solutions to move societies on to a sustainable pathway – across all scales. The conference aimed to provide scientific leadership towards the major UN Summit Rio+20 in June 2012.
Over 3000 experts attended and many contributed to the 150 oral sessions and 800 poster presentations which spanned the social and natural sciences. Delegates were presented with current thinking on the drivers of global environmental change - globalization, urbanization and consumption – and listened to the latest scientific knowledge about the Earth system: climate science, ecosystem services, land use, biodiversity loss, planetary thresholds, and food, water and energy security.
Oxford University was prominent at the conference, with a vibrant, well-located and busy exhibition booth. Coordinated by ECI, the stand presented the Oxford Network for the Environment which links Oxford’s research, education and outreach activities in water, biodiversity, energy, food and climate change across science, engineering, social sciences and the humanities. With exhibits from Engineering Sciences; interactive material from Climateprediction.net, Biofresh and Amazonian field experiments; hand-outs and promo postcards; student helpers from Physics; 20 ECI staff, researchers, academics, associates and a further 30 from across the University, there was never a quiet moment. The stand offered a valuable opportunity for networking, making linkages across the University, and helping to promote Oxford’s impressive environmental credentials to wider audiences.
ECI convened four sessions at the event and delivered papers in a further 8 sessions. Included in these was a well-attended discussion organised and chaired by Jim Hall, “Convergent Global Megatrends”. During the event an eminent panel presented and debated the interlinking global challenges around ecosystem assessment (Bob Watson), energy (Chris Llewellyn Smith), water (Pavel Kabat), food (Charles Godfray), climate (Corrine Le Quere) and population (Ed Barry) with the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser John Beddington providing an overarching perspective. Andy Revkin summed up the optimism presented by the panel around the opportunities for solutions in his New York Times Blog, writing “Beddington noted that while long-term outcomes for humans and climate are uncertain, human and environmental trajectories through 2030 or so are already clear, offering clear choices on actions that could limit regrets and boost prospects later in the century”.
Our final role at the conference was organisational. John Ingram (NERC Food Security Leader, based in ECI), led the successful bid for the UK to host the Planet under Pressure conference. John then chaired the Local Organising Committee (LOC, working closely with the Royal Society, NERC, LWEC and Elsevier), and had overall responsibility for the conference logistics and overseeing the core budgets. He also worked closely with the international Scientific Organising Committee, liaised with plenary speakers and took a lead in raising over £500k for developing country scientists to participate. Anita Ghosh supported both the LOC and conference organisers more generally by administering the Session selection process, coordinating the mentoring scheme for developing world scientists, liaising with donors and managing the disbursement of the £500k funding. Anita was supported by Karen Anderton, Olaf Bayer, Satomi Jardine-Iwakoshi and Alyona Rydannykh in the logistical arrangements for the 200+ developing country colleagues who received funding to attend the Planet under Pressure conference.