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Forum for Global Challenges speakers
From left: Liv Garfield, Professor Sir Charles Godfray and Dr Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah

The first contributors for next year’s high profile Forum for Global Challenges have been confirmed.

Dr Dhananjayan (Danny) Sriskandarajah, CEO Oxfam GB, Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO and Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Director, Oxford Martin School are the first three speakers to be announced for next year’s Forum for Global Challenges.

The inaugural bi-annual Forum for Global Challenges, which takes place on the 3-5 May 2022 in Birmingham’s famous International Convention Centre, will help to make the world a fairer, more sustainable place.

An online community is allowing contributors around the world to build evidence, ideas and momentum. Anyone can be part of this community – registration is free.

Taking place ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Forum will generate and share solutions to some of the most pressing challenges faced by our planet and its people, from climate change and destruction of the natural world, to poverty and rising inequalities, and the effects of the global pandemic.

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah, CEO Oxfam GB said: “It is becoming crystal clear that global challenges like poverty, inequality and climate change are deeply interconnected and therefore we need joined up solutions that bring together different disciplines, sectors, actors and perspectives. I am looking forward to important conversations at the Forum for Global Challenges which I hope will do just that.”

Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO said: “Protecting our environment is something that everyone has a part to play in, which is why I’m thrilled to be sharing Severn Trent’s ideas and innovation at this years Forum for Global Challenges. We’re absolutely committed to doing our bit, and more to make a positive impact on the environment. From delivering our ambitious Green Recovery programme, to supporting the first ever carbon neutral Commonwealth Games, and to committing to net zero by 2030, I'm really excited to share with others what we're setting out to do, to help shape how others can get involved too."

Professor Sir Charles Godfray, Director, Oxford Martin School said: “Ensuring an adequate supply of healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food is a major but addressable global challenge – but if we fail on food we fail on everything.”

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the University of Birmingham said: “All three of these outstanding speakers will add expertise and weight to the critical discussions we hope to have at next year’s Forum. The University has a critical role to play in bringing world-leading experts to Birmingham to generate and share solutions to the most pressing challenges we all face.”

Professor Hisham Mehanna, Director at the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Global Innovation and Institute for Advanced Studies and lead for the Forum for Global Challenges said: “I would like to thank Danny, Liv and Charles for helping us realise our vision for next year’s Forum and we look forward to working together over the coming weeks. The solution to so many of these issues lies in collaboration and that is precisely what we want to inspire by hosting the Forum for Global Challenges in Birmingham.”

The Forum for Global Challenges will find, share and promote technological, policy, societal and behavioural solutions to climate change and inequalities. The Forum will focus on the key topics of the green economy, restoring nature, the future of cities, mobility, the future of education and employment, health and wellbeing, food security and access to the digital world. These will be examined through the lenses of post-COVID recovery, strategies for transformation, ethical and effective leadership and interconnectedness.

  • For more information please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham  +44 7827 832312 or alternatively, contact the Press Office out of hours on +44 (0)7789 921165 
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The Forum for Global Challenges is led by the University of Birmingham and delivered in collaboration with:

• The World Bank
• Thomson Reuters Foundation
• United Nations Development Programme
• The Association of Commonwealth Universities
• UK Research and Innovation
• West Midlands Combined Authority

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah became Chief Executive Officer of Oxfam Great Britain in January 2019. Prior to that he spent six years as Secretary General of CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance. He has previously been Director General of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Interim Director of the Commonwealth Foundation and held various posts at the Institute for Public Policy Research.

He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Global Public Goods in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. From 2018 to 2019 he was a member of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, co-chaired by Jack Ma and Melinda Gates, and from 2015 to 2016 a member of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Finance. He has been a Trustee of the Baring Foundation, Comic Relief, and International Alert, and a member of the Lead Group of Scaling Up Nutrition.

Liv took up the reins as Chief Executive of Severn Trent, the Midlands-based water and waste company responsible for providing clean water and taking away waste water to around 8m people in the Midlands and mid- and north Wales, in 2014. Severn Trent is one of the three largest water companies in the UK, and is a member of the FTSE100.

Before this, Liv worked at BT for 12 years. Her last role was as Chief Executive of Openreach, the engineering division of BT. In this role, Liv was responsible for the delivery of one of the fastest and most ambitious deployments of fibre broadband in the world. Before joining BT, Liv worked for Accenture, the management consultancy, where she spent five years in the retail and high-tech practices.

In October 2020, Liv was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the water industry. Liv, 45, is originally from Harrogate in Yorkshire, and is married, with two boys. She is a lifelong Everton fan.

Charles Godfray is a population biologist with broad interests in science and the interplay of science and policy. He has spent his career at Oxford University and Imperial College and is currently Director of the Oxford Martin School and Professor of Population Biology at Oxford. His research has involved experimental and theoretical studies in population and community ecology, epidemiology and evolutionary biology. He is particularly interested in food security and chaired the UK Government Office of Science’s Foresight project on the Future of Food and Farming and recently stepped down as chair of the UK’s agricultural and environment (Defra) ministry’s Science Advisory Council.