BSF23 headline climate talk from Mya-Rose Craig ‘Birdgirl’, Zion Lights, and more
BSF23 headline climate talk from Mya-Rose Craig ‘Birdgirl’, Zion Lights, and more

It’s World Nature Conservation Day (28 July)! To mark the occasion, the British Science Festival is proud to announce a new headline panel event titled ‘This Green and Pleasant Land?’ which will take place from 15.30 – 16.30 on Saturday 9 September 2023 at Exeter Cathedral.

Book your free tickets here

This green and pleasant land?

As our climate changes, it brings into focus the competing pressures on how land across the UK is used. There is increasing pressure to protect 30% of land for nature, and a growing recognition that we’ll need to carve out further space for innovative energy and food solutions.

This will form the basis of the event involving:

  • Mya-Rose Craig, a 21-year-old British-Bangladeshi birder, race and environmental activist and writer, campaigning for equal access to nature.
  • Ian Bateman, Director of the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP) at the University of Exeter.
  • Sophie Pavelle, an Exeter-based science communicator and author.
  • Zion Lights (Chair), an author, science communicator and former spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.

By 2050, with the current goal for the UK reaching net zero emissions of greenhouse gases, we could have a completely different landscape altogether.

‘This Green and Pleasant Land?’ panel will discuss their thoughts on ‘UK 2050’, the actions they believe are needed to protect land for nature and such as sustainable technology, a new approach to land use, and the future challenges each entails.

Mya-Rose Craig says: “I am really pleased to be taking part in the ‘This Green and Pleasant Land?’ panel at the British Science Festival, representing a generation of people who have not yet had the opportunity to influence decisions on land-use change, or have their voices heard on the pressures of how land is used.

I look forward to interacting with visitors who are open to new ideas and inviting them into a different conversation.”

Book your free tickets here

Exeter’s first ‘science market’

Exeter Cathedral Green will also host Exeter’s first ‘science market’ on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September as part of the British Science Festival.

There will be opportunities to experience interactive exhibits, participate in workshops and explore cutting-edge science through art, poetry and song. Some event highlights include meeting the BBC Studios Natural History Unit team who will demonstrate some of their innovative kit; and experiencing the Natural History Museum’s blockbuster exhibition ‘Our Broken Planet’ – its first appearance since closing at the museum in London.

For 2023, the Festival has partnered with the University of Exeter, which has a strong record of incorporating sustainability in every aspect of its structure and is consistently ranked as one of the greenest universities in the UK.

More about the panel

Mya-Rose Craig is a 21-year-old British-Bangladeshi birder, conservationist, race and environmental activist campaigning for equal access to nature, to stop climate change and biodiversity loss, and to ensure global climate justice, all of which she believes are closely interlinked. She has authored three books, We Have a Dream (2021), which highlights 30 young global environmentalists of colour; Birdgirl (2022), in which she shares how she found her voice and joy through birding during a deepening family mental health crisis; and Flight (2023), a children’s book about the world of migrating birds. She is an Ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts, Beaver Trust, Greenpeace, Survival International and Oxfam; and has spoken on stage alongside the likes of Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai.

Ian Bateman is the Director of the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (LEEP) at the University of Exeter, UK. His main research interests focus on ensuring sustainable wellbeing through working with business and policy makers to bring together natural science and economics. Ian has advised Government Cabinet minister on environmental improvement for over 10 years, has published over 170 papers in scientific journals on his work and was appointed OBE for services to environmental science and policy in 2013.

Ian Bateman says: “I am absolutely delighted to join this wonderful panel of experts to explore the many and varied benefits of our land across the UK, and look at the way in which decisions are made to benefit the natural environment, support sustainable local business and create healthy rural and urban communities.

“Attending the British Science Festival, both to listen as well as speak, is an exciting opportunity to hear from the engaged and varied group of people that this Festival will bring together to Exeter.”

Sophie Pavelle is a science communicator and author from Exeter. She published her first book, Forget Me Not: finding the forgotten species of climate-change Britain in 2022, which this year won The People’s Book Prize for Non-Fiction and has been longlisted for the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Conservation. Sophie, a zoologist by training, now works for the Beaver Trust. She is an Ambassador for the Wildlife Trusts and sits on the RSPB England Advisory Committee, and is a Trustee for UNESCO Exeter City of Literature. Her writing appears in New Scientist, National Geographic Traveller, The Guardian, and others.

Sophie Pavelle says: “I can’t wait to attend my first British Science Festival, hosted in my hometown, and share my passion for protecting and nurturing our wild spaces, both in Exeter and beyond.”

“I look forward to seeing where the conversation takes us, and how this debate could have an impact on visitors long after they’ve gone home.”

Zion Lights is a science communicator known for her environmental advocacy work. She is the founder of the evidence-based climate activism group Emergency Reactor and author of The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting. Zion has become a world-leading speaker on clean energy, specifically nuclear energy, and also lectures on effective science communication, tackling misinformation, and climate action. She is the former Editor of The Hourglass, Extinction Rebellion’s print newspaper, and was also a spokesperson for the group for two years.

Zion Lights says:

“I’m delighted to have been invited to chair the panel discussion ‘This Green and Pleasant Land?’ at the British Science Festival alongside Ian Bateman, Mya-Rose Craig and Sophie Pavelle.

“Exeter is my hometown, where I am raising two daughters, so I am very excited about having the Festival here this year. I am passionate about sharing impactful viewpoints and research with new audiences, and I think it’s crucial to get people thinking about solutions to the problems we face. I am looking forward to being a part of potentially igniting new ideas for visitors with this panel.”

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