Conference Speakers

In the run up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the SPF UK Climate Resilience Programme Champions at the University of Leeds, and the Committee on Climate Change will be jointly hosting a climate change adaptation conference on 13-14th October 2020. Please find a list of the speakers below.

Keynote speakers
Rt Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State, Defra

George Eustice was appointed Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 13 February 2020. He was previously Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) from 11 May 2015 to 13 February 2020.

Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee, Committee on Climate Change

Baroness Brown of Cambridge (Professor Dame Julia King) is an engineer, with a career spanning senior engineering and leadership roles in industry and academia. She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and of the Royal Society, and was awarded DBE for services to higher education and technology.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency

Emma Howard Boyd is the Chair of the Environment Agency, an Ex officio board member of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and has recently been appointed as the UK Commissioner to the Global Commission on Adaptation.

Professor Rowan Sutton
Director of Science (Climate), National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS)
Rowan is based at NCAS at the University of Reading, and has over 20 years’ experience in climate research. He was a Lead Author of the Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. His research interests are on ocean-atmosphere interactions in climate, predictability and prediction, particularly in the Atlantic.
Professor Suraje Dessai
UK Climate Resilience Programme Champions at the University of Leeds
Suraje is Professor of Climate Change Adaptation and the Strategic Priorities Fund UK Climate Resilience Champion. His research and teaching focuses on the management of climate change uncertainties, perception of climate risks and the science-policy interface in climate change impacts, adaptation and services. He is an IPCC lead author and editor-in-chief of Climate Risk Management.
Kathryn Brown
Head of Adaptation, Committee on Climate Change
Kathryn leads the Adaptation Committee’s secretariat. She has 15 years’ experience in climate change adaptation policy and evidence. She is currently leading the process to produce the next UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report, as well as managing the work programme for the Committee’s biannual adaptation progress reports
Professor Peter Stott
Science Fellow in Attribution at the Met Office and Professor in Detection and Attribution at the University of Exeter
Peter leads a team at the Met Office that seeks to better understand the causes of recent changes in climate including extreme weather events. He has been involved in the three previous IPCC reports as contributing author, lead author and coordinating lead author respectively. He is often asked to comment on extreme weather events and climate change by the media and appeared in the BBC documentary Climate Change – The Facts.
Professor Ted Shepherd
Grantham Professor of Climate Science, University of Reading
Ted is a specialist in large-scale atmospheric dynamics and circulation and its role in climate change, including extreme events. He co-authored the US National Academy of Sciences report on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution (2016), and currently chairs the Science Review Group of the Met Office Hadley Centre.
Professor Pier Luigi Vidale
Professor of Climate System Science, University of Reading
Pier Luigi is the co-lead of the UK’s High-Resolution global Climate Modelling programme, and Scientific Coordinator of Horizon-2020 PRIMAVERA. His research interests include mesoscale phenomena and scale interactions within the global climate system: intense cyclones (hurricanes), land-atmosphere coupling, sea and mountain breezes.
Dr Elizabeth Kendon
Science Fellow and Manager of Understanding Regional Climate Change, Met Office
Lizzie leads a team of scientists at the Met Office using very high-resolution models to study climate change, with a focus on extremes. Her work has been pioneering in the field of convection-permitting climate modelling, and she recently led work delivering the first national climate scenarios at km-scale as part of the UKCP18 project.
Professor Nigel Arnell
Professor of Climate System Science, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading
Nigel has researched the effects of climate change for many years, starting with water resources in the UK before broadening to multi-sectoral impacts at national and global scales. He has been involved in the IPCC since the 1990s, and currently chairs the independent peer review panel for the CCRA3 Evidence Report. He sits on the DfID Science Advisory Group.
Professor Hayley Fowler
Professor of Climate Change Impacts, School of Engineering, University of Newcastle
Hayley’s research focuses on improved physical understanding of changing precipitation extremes, droughts and floods, and bridging the gap between climate modellers and users of climate scenarios. She is Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (2018) and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellow (2014-19). She leads the GEWEX Hydroclimatology Panel sub-daily precipitation cross-cut, is Chief Editor of Frontiers in Interdisciplinary Climate Studies. She is a Contributing Author to the Water Cycle and Extremes Chapters for the WGI IPCC 6th Assessment Report and the UK 3rd Climate Change Risk Assessment.
Professor Melanie Austen
Professor of Ocean and Science, University of Plymouth
Mel Austen is a member of the Natural Capital Committee and of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), and Chair of the Partnership of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in North Devon, and was the first Chief Scientific Advisor to the  Marine Management Organisation. She leads UK and internationally funded interdisciplinary marine science research that intersects with the blue economy. 
Professor Jim Hall
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford
Jim is Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks in the University of Oxford. Prof Hall is internationally recognised for his research on risk analysis and decision making under uncertainty for water resource systems, flood and coastal risk management, infrastructure systems and adaptation to climate change.
Professor Jerry Knox
Professor of Agricultural Water Management, Cranfield University
Jerry has 27 years international experience in the science, engineering and management of water resources for agriculture, including assessing the relationships between irrigation demand, water resources, drought risks, crop productivity and the environment. He is currently supporting IFAD in their global thematic evaluation of smallholder adaptation to climate change and leading research in SSA and Latin America on improving irrigation management to build resilience to water and climate-related risks.
Dr James Pearce-Higgins
Director of Science, British Trust for Ornithology
James’ role at the BTO combines the expertise of its volunteers and staff to deliver long-term biodiversity monitoring and high impact research. James also leads BTO’s climate change work documenting the impacts of climate change, projecting the future and informing adaptation. 
Professor Richard Betts
Met Office and University of Exeter
Professor Richard Betts MBE FRMetS is Head of Climate Impacts Research at the Met Office Hadley Centre and Chair in Climate Impacts at the University of Exeter. He founded the Met Office’s Climate Impacts group in 2003, led its growth and evolution into a research field now embedded in several teams across the Met Office, and currently leads this component of the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme. He is currently leading the writing of the technical chapters for the Evidence Report of the UKs 3rd National Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3).
Dr Ruth Wood
Senior Lecturer in Environment and Climate Change at the Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester
Ruth is a member of the Centre for Climate and Social Transformations. Her research interests include the relationship between society and infrastructure and its effect on both resource demand and resilience to future climate change impacts. She was a contributing author to the second UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) and is a lead author for the third CCRA Evidence Report Infrastructure Chapter.
Professor Matthew Baylis
Chair of Veterinary Epidemiology, University of Liverpool
Matthew is Executive Dean of the Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences (IVES), and leads the Liverpool University Climate and Infectious Diseases of Animals (LUCINDA) research group. LUCINDA addresses the links to climate, and impacts of climate change, on infectious diseases of animals, including humans, with a primary focus in diseases spread by insect vectors. In addition, he leads a large capacity building programme in One Health in the Horn of Africa (
Dr Swenja Surminski
Head of Adaptation Research, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Swenja oversees research projects investigating climate risk management and resilience strategies through a mix of inter-disciplinary approaches. She has published widely on these topics,  works closely with industry and policy makers and was appointed Visiting Academic at the Bank of England in 2015 to work on the regulator’s first report on climate change. In addition to her academic career Swenja has spent more than 10 years in the international insurance industry working on disaster risk transfer solutions and climate risk management.
Professor Andy Challinor
Professor of Climate Impacts, University of Leeds
Andy has 20 years’ experience in modelling for food security.  Andy was a Lead Author on both the IPCC Fifth Assessment chapter ‘Food Production Systems and Food Security’ and the second UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) 2017, a role he is undertaking again for the third assessment due in 2022. He is also Review Editor for the 2019 IPCC report on Climate Change and Land, and Specialty Chief Editor of the Climate-Smart Food Systems section of Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.
Professor Richard Dawson
Committee on Climate Change and University of Newcastle
Richard Dawson is Professor of Earth Systems Engineering and Director of Research in the School of Engineering at Newcastle University. Over the last two decades his research has focused on the analysis and management of climatic risks to civil engineering systems, including the development of systems modelling of risks to cities, catchments and infrastructure networks. Richard is also a member of the Committee on Climate Change.
Professor Robert Nicholls
Director of the Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia
Robert has extensive expertise on impacts and adaptation to climate change, especially in coastal areas. A distinctive dimension of his research has been Integrated Assessment to support policy analysis. He has been lead author of five reports of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change assessment process.
Nicci Russell
Managing Director, Waterwise
Nicci has been Managing Director of Waterwise since March 2017. Previously she was a Director at Ofwat and Special Adviser to Margaret Beckett at Defra. Nicci judges the IoW’s Innovation Awards and the Water Industry Awards. She is an Honorary Fellow of CIWEM. Nicci is Governor at a High School and a former Junior School Chair of Governors.
Professor Tim Benton
Chatham House and University of Leeds
Tim is Research Director in Emerging Risks and the director of the Energy, Environment and Resources Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House and Professor at the University of Leeds, where he was formerly, Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives. He has been IPCC author, CCRA2 and 3 author, Agenda Steward for the World Economic Forum, Champion for the UK’s Global Food Security programme.
Dr Emer O’Connell
Consultant, Public Health England
Emer leads the Extreme Events and Health Protection team at Public Health England.  She is a Consultant in Public Health specialising in environmental public health, including air quality and climate change. Emer has a Masters degree in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a PhD in Public Health and Population Science from University College Dublin.  
Dr Mike Morecroft
Principal Specialist, Natural England
Mike leads work on climate change adaptation and mitigation in the natural environment for Natural England.  He is a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and has published over 140 scientific papers, reports and book chapters.  Mike led a research group at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology before joining Natural England in 2009 and is an Honorary Research Associate at Oxford University.
Kate Lonsdale
UK SPF Climate Resilience Champion & University of Leeds
Kate is a champion of the SPF UK Climate Resilience Programme.  She has worked on adaptation as a researcher, trainer, facilitator, consultant, mentor, evaluator and in an advisory capacity for over 24 years, lead and managing projects in civil society organisations, academia and on government policy and within organizations that aim to create a bridge between these different sectors. 
Professor Nick Pidgeon
Professor of Environmental Risk and Psychology and Director of the Understanding Risk Research Group, Cardiff University
Nick is Director of the Understanding Risk Research Group at Cardiff University. He has managed multiple interdisciplinary research projects for the research councils on public perceptions and engagement with climate change risks and sustainability. Currently a member of the Science Advisory Council at the UK Department for Transport, in 2014 he was awarded an MBE for services to UK climate and energy policy.
Professor Rob Wilby
Professor of Hydroclimatic Modelling, Loughborough University
Rob has 30 years research interest in regional climate change, freshwater systems, and adaptation of water, energy and built environments. Years spent in consultancy, government, and the water industry, have given Rob a very pragmatic approach to climate risk management.
Paul Watkiss
Director, PWA Associates
Paul Watkiss is the Director of Paul Watkiss Associates, a research consultancy specialising in adaptation policy, planning, finance and economics. He has over 20 years of applied adaptation experience and was a major contributor to the first and second UK Climate Change Risk Assessments, and is currently leading the methodology chapter for the third Assessment, CCRA3.
Dr Amal-Lee Amin
Director of Climate Change, CDC
Amal-Lee’s 20 year professional career in climate policy and finance spans roles within the UK Government, the Inter-American Development Bank and E3G think-tank. In 2019 she was recognized as one of the World’s top 100 influencers on climate policy. Amal-Lee joined CDC Group as Director of Climate Change in February 2020.