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How can life be sustained? University to host debate for popular BBC programme

Press release issued: 15 November 2011

With the global population hitting seven billion people, the hot topic of how the natural world can meet the needs of a burgeoning population will be debated at Bristol University for a popular BBC programme.

A panel of leading international experts has been gathered for a special edition of BBC Radio 4 Saving Species on Monday, 28 November in the Wills Memorial Building.

Members of the public are invited to witness the live debate, hosted by the Cabot Institute, and submit questions to the panel, which includes Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency.

She will be joined by Dr Vandana Shiva, who was recently named by Forbes as one of the seven most-influential women in the world and described as a “leading thinker of our time”.

Dr Shiva founded Navdanya International, an organisation whose vision is to protect nature and the rights of people. She is a philosopher and environmental activist based in Delhi, who has written more than 20 books and over 500 papers.

Distinguished zoologist and broadcaster Professor Aubrey Manning, Patron of Population Matters and Emeritus Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University, will also contribute to the debate.

Dr Jon Bridle, an Evolutionary Biologist at the Cabot Institute, completes the panel and will be discussing the Cabot Institute’s work to bring together world-class expertise and multidisciplinary research programmes to tackle the challenges of uncertain environmental change.

Professor Paul Bates, Director of the Cabot Institute at Bristol University, said: “The Cabot Institute is delighted to be able to host this exciting BBC event.  With global population projected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, understanding the likely consequences is a critical issue where strongly held and often opposing views can be prevalent.  Bringing clarity and open debate to this topic is therefore absolutely essential.”

The Saving Species series examines the world of nature and the challenges of wildlife conservation and is produced by the BBC’s Natural History Unit, based in Bristol.

Radio presenter and author Brett Westwood will present the debate and ask the panel questions which have been submitted by the audience.

The debate is free and if you would like to be part of the live audience, please book your place by visiting Doors open at 6pm and people need to be in their seats by 6.30pm. Unfortunately no latecomers can be admitted.

If you have a question that you would like the panel to answer, please email prior to the event.

  • The programme will be broadcast on Radio 4 on Friday, 23 December at 8pm.


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