High-profile speakers confirmed for global conference

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Professor Alice Roberts

More contributors for next year’s high-profile Forum for Global Challenges have been confirmed.

Author and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts, World Bank Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel, and Vice President for Compliance Sandie Okoro, and former UK Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell are the latest 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.

Register for the Forum for Global Challenges

Professor Alice Roberts commented: “I hope the Forum for Global Challenges will be a fantastic opportunity for people from around the world to meet - to share ideas and collaborate on solving some of the great challenges facing us all right now.

Cooperation was key to the survival of the human species in the past - and it’s crucial to our future. COVID19 has shown us how scientists around the world can achieve incredible things when they work together - we need to harness that potential much more widely. If we can bring together research from around the globe - we can hope to solve humanity’s greatest challenges.”

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.

Sandie Okoro, who is also a University of Birmingham alumna, commented: “The World Bank Group is a global leader in development financing for sustainable solutions, and our priority is to tackle extreme poverty and at the same time create opportunities that benefit all. To achieve those goals, we work globally, across sectors and intersectionally, and we collaborate with like-minded individuals whose mission is to answer the world’s development demands.

“The Forum for Global Challenges is an important platform that brings together universities, NGOs, public and private sector, international organizations, and the civil society around a unique opportunity to rethink how we can better and creatively develop innovative solutions for development. As a proud alumna of Birmingham University, I am thrilled to be a partner in this important initiative.”

Andrew Mitchell commented: ‘’As the Member of Parliament for the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, I am delighted to have the opportunity to participate at the Forum for Global Challenges to discuss some of the key issues facing the world today - alongside world-leading thinkers in their respective fields.

I am sure that the Forum will be constructive in sowing the seeds for solutions to the challenges faced by future generations while at the same time, strengthening the status of the University of Birmingham as a world-leading hub for innovative thinking.’’

As well as invited speakers, the Forum provides a unique opportunity for researchers, practitioners in the public and third sectors, and business leaders, from across the world to contribute their ideas, experience and findings on technological, policy, societal and behavioural solutions to climate change and inequalities. The call for contributions is open now, with a deadline of 3 December 2021.

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 gender equality.

Professor Hisham Mehanna, Director, Institute for Global Innovation and Institute for Advanced Studies and lead for the Forum for Global Challenges said:

“I would like to thank Alice, Sandie and Andrew 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.”

Notes to editors

  • For more information please contact Dominic Benson, Deputy Director of Communications, University of Birmingham 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

Sandie Okoro

In addition to her official duties as part of the World Bank Group, Sandie Chairs the World Bank Group Anti-Racism Task Force, and is an ardent defender and champion for female empowerment, gender equality, and justice for all. She was appointed inaugural Chair of the UK-based charity WOW-Women of the World Festivals in June 2021, and prior to joining the World Bank, Sandie was General Counsel for HSBC Global Asset Management, Deputy General Counsel of HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management, and Global General Counsel at Barings. Sandie is an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple in the United Kingdom and was recognised as Britain’s 5th most influential person of African and African Caribbean heritage by Power list.

She holds Honorary Doctorates in Law from City University London, London Southbank University, and her alma mater, the University of Birmingham. Sandie was appointed to the Management Board and the Panel of Experts of The Hague-based Panel of Recognized International Market Experts in Finance and the Premier League Equality Standards Panel. She is Ambassador for the Law Society of England and Wales Diversity Access Scheme and served as President of the International Lawyers of Africa. Sandie received the Howard University 2019 Vanguard Women Award for her accomplishments as a woman of colour. 

Professor Alice Roberts

Professor Alice Roberts is a biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster. Having originally studied and practiced medicine, she moved into academia, teaching clinical anatomy and undertaking research in biological anthropology. She is especially interested in the intersection between biology, archaeology and history, and the interaction between humans and the environment through time. Alice has been Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham since 2012, and she is passionate about widening the impact and access to university research and teaching.

Alice has presented over a hundred television programmes, and numerous radio programmes, on subjects ranging from biology and anatomy to archaeology and history, and has written ten popular science books. She is a past president of the British Science Association. In 2020, Alice Roberts was awarded the Royal Society’s first David Attenborough Prize for Public Engagement.

Andrew Mitchell

Andrew Mitchell was Secretary of State for International Development in the British Government from May 2010 until he became Government Chief Whip in September 2012. He was appointed to the Privy Council in 2010. Prior to joining the cabinet in 2010, he also held numerous junior positions in Government (1992-1997) and in opposition (2003-2010). He has been the Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield since 2001.