Global community launches to make world a better, fairer place

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Experts at the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Global Innovation (IGI) are launching a new multi-disciplinary forum to help resolve critical global challenges - helping to make the world a fairer, more sustainable place.

The Forum for Global Challenges launches on 19 January 2021 at 13:30 – 15:00 GMT with a high-profile panel discussion that will kick-start an online community allowing contributors around the world to build evidence, ideas and momentum before the Forum meets for the first time in May 2022.

People across the world can be part of the launch event – registration is free at

Chaired by Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation Climate Editor, the online panel will identify critical changes needed to create a more equitable world and how these steps could be delivered in different countries. Panel members include:

  • Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel;
  • Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the World Resources Institute;
  • Mo Ibrahim, entrepreneur and philanthropist;
  • Andrew Mitchell, MP and former International Development Secretary; and
  • Srilatha Batliwala, academic and feminist activist.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street will be joined by former Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark MP to welcome participants to the online launch event.

Professor Sir David Eastwood commented: “The University of Birmingham is committed to solving global challenges and making important and transformational contributions to international scientific co-operation.

“We believe that in bringing together key people from a broad range of perspectives and expertise we can make a real difference. The Forum for Global Challenges will create a diverse global community dedicated to resolving the key issues of our age.”

The Forum will hold a bi-annual conference with the first event being held in Birmingham from 2 to 4 May 2022, ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – find out more at

It will consider the challenge areas of ‘Climate and Environment’ and ‘Inequalities’, panel members will analyse the green economy; restoring nature; future cities and mobility, whilst also examining food security; lifelong education; heath & wellbeing; and digital access.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street commented: “Our region has always been at the forefront of innovation, and it is therefore fitting that the University of Birmingham is leading this new approach to resolve the biggest challenges of our age.

“All eyes will be on the West Midlands for both Coventry of Culture later this year and the Commonwealth Games in 2022, and the Forum will demonstrate how innovators from our region are spearheading a global drive to create a fairer, safer, and more equitable world.”

Professor Hisham Mehanna, Director of the Institute for Global Innovation (IGI) - commented: “Multiple challenges face the world today, from climate change and nature loss to persistent inequality and, of course, the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Interdisciplinary research can have a transformative impact on the most vulnerable people. The IGI is already seeing success in areas such as in water, cities and transnational crime, inspiring us to establish the Forum for Global Challenges and open the door to new opportunities that will help make our planet a fairer, better home for everyone.

Notes to editors:

  • For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165. 
  • 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 and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • It hosts the Institute for Global Innovation (IGI), a research institute focused on world-leading, multi- and inter-disciplinary research that seeks to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The IGI’s research themes revolve around understanding and finding solutions to factors that challenge, and sometimes threaten, the sustainability and resilience of individuals, communities, societies, and the world as a whole.
  • IGI’s main themes now include clean air, resilient cities, water challenges in a changing world, gender inequality, and 21st century transnational crime. IGI’s emerging themes include clean cooling, antimicrobial resistance, and ageing and frailty.
  • Birmingham research experts taking part in the forum include: Fiona Nunan, Professor of Environment and Development; Dr Gabriela da Silva Xavier, Metabolism and Systems Research; Tim Cable, Professor of Cardiovascular; Exercise Science; Justine Davies, Professor of Global Health; David Hudson, Professor of Politics and Development; Peter Kraftl, Chair in Human Geography; Stefan Krause, Professor of Ecohydrology and Biogeochemistry; Jeannette Littlemore, Professor of English Language and Applied Linguistics; Professor Raquel Ortega-Argilés, Chair, Regional Economic Development; Francis Pope, Professor of Atmospheric Science; Professor Nando Sigona, Chair of International Migration and Forced Displacement & Director of IRiS; Professor Ian Thomson, Director Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business; and Clive Roberts, Professor of Railway Systems and Head of School of Engineering.