Keynote speakers

The following speakers have so far agreed to give a key note: 

  • Professor Bill Durodie, BSc (ARCS), PGCE, MSc (Econ), PhD. 
    Theme: Theory informed by Practice. Application informed by Purpose. Why to Understand and Manage Risk – Cultural Context is key
  • Professor Luisa Lima
    Theme: What can they possibly bring to the project? A psychosocial approach to the barriers to inclusive practices in participatory processes
  • Professor Michael Depledge,  PhD, DSc (Lond), C. Biol. FSB, FZS, FRSA. HonFRCP 
    Theme: Accepting Global Risks.
  • Professor Ricardo Garcia Mira, University of Coruna
    Theme: Risk communication and social participation: The application of environmental knowledge to environmental policy. The case of the Prestige disasterTheme: 


Professor Michael Depledge

PhD, DSc (Lond), C. Biol. FSB, FZS, FRSA. HonFRCP Professor Depledge was the founding Director and is currently Chair of the Board of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health.

Theme: Accepting Global Risks


The nature and pattern of threats that we are exposed to alter across the lifecourse, and from one generation to the next. As we become increasingly aware, we have to decide whether to avoid them or learn to live with them. In many cases we don’t have a choice; the threats are beyond our control. Evaluating the risks posed has always been part of the human experience, and living with risk is part of everyday life. But have we entered a new era of risk? With the explosion of information available to the general population over the last 150 years, people are knowingly having to cope with an ever increasing risk burden. In this lecture these issues will be discussed in the context of global environmental change and concurrent developments in human demographics. Both actual and perceived risks posed by climate change, biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, antibiotic resistance and other environmental security considerations will be examined from the perspective of the Planetary Boundaries concept. In particular, the safe operating space for humanity will be re-evaluated and the notion of human boundaries for accepting risks will be introduced and discussed.


Professor Depledge was the founding Director and is currently Chair of the Board of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health. He has a background in environmental and medical toxicology and has produced more than 380 peer-review scientific papers in leading international journals and books. He has been an expert advisor on environmental matters to the United Nations and World Health Organisation since the early 1990s running several research programmes in Brazil, China, Vietnam and elsewhere. Formerly, he was the Chief Scientist of the Environment Agency of England and Wales and served as a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. He was a founding board member of the UK Conservation agency “Natural England” and the former Chairman of the Science Advisory Group on Environment and Climate Change of the European Commission. He has held several honorary professorships at leading universities including Harvard (USA), Imperial College, London, and is currently an honorary visiting professor at Oxford University, University College, London and Chiba University Medical School, Japan. He serves as a member of the UK Governments Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee and Public Health England’s Global Health Committee. 

His research interests include the impact of climate change on health and wellbeing, relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and health (including use of the natural environment to foster health and wellbeing), and finding ways of communicating scientific information to policymakers and politician. 

He has recently been appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in recognition of his work on the natural environment, human health and wellbeing. 


Professor Bill Durodie

BSc (ARCS), PGCE, MSc (Econ), PhD. Theory informed by Practice. Application informed by Purpose.

Theme: Why to Understand and Manage Risk – Cultural Context is key


In this key-note session some of the major trends that have emerged in risk management over recent decades will be reviewed. Among these are the drive for evidence-based policy and the advent of national and institutional risk registers. It will be proposed that these often presume a conclusion prior to searching for confirming evidence. What’s more equating different risks elides their actual and cultural specificities. In many instances risk management then becomes a mechanism for concealing moral values and political principles in decision-making. The need for clear contextual understanding is key to effective risk management that also appreciates that drift is often more destabilising than shock.


Professor Durodie is Head of the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies and Professor and Chair of International Relations at the University of Bath


Professor Luisa Lima

Theme: What can they possibly bring to the project? A psychosocial approach to the barriers to inclusive practices in participatory processes.


Public participation processes associated with big projects are supposed to encourage the inclusion of multiple perspectives in the decision process. However, although the law favours this inclusive approach, the owners of the projects usually reduce the involvement of the local communities to an informational strategy. In this presentation, I will focus on explaining the resistance to a more inclusive approach to public participatory process inspired by a social psychological approach (Abrams, Hogg & Marques, 2005; Fiske et al, 2002). We propose that a dehumanized view of the local communities is a key variable to understand the exclusion processes and a deficit view of the citizens. In a series of experimental and descriptive studies, mainly conducted among technicians with experience in these type of projects, we tested the hypothesis that a dehumanized description of a community is associated with the expectation of negative emotions and violent reactions from the members of the local communities. These expectations about the imagined local communities justify lower levels of respect for their opinions and a lower intention to include them in the decision process. Consequences for intervention are discussed.


Luisa is full professor at the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL) in the Department of Social and Organizational Psychologist where she directs the Master in Social Psychology of Health. She conducts basic and applied research in risk perception and public participation. She has worked extensively with both private and public institutions to apply social psychology knowledge to increase public participation in decision-making processes. In particular she followed projects that involve major environmental or landscape changes (e.g., building waste incinerators, airports or dams). She is specially interested in the social processes that affect risk perception in these contexts.

A second line of research she developed in the last years has to do with food choices. She is currently President of the Risk Communication Committee of the Portuguese Food Safety Agency. Her research has been funded by the Portuguese and European research agencies.


Dr Ricardo Garcia Mira

Theme: Risk communication and social participation: The application of environmental knowledge to environmental policy. The case of the Prestige disaster


Creating environmental knowledge among citizens and stakeholders who meet policymakers is not easy unless it is through a process of promotion of public participation. Participation plays a role both in natural resource management and in the definition of environmental risk policies. The increasing environmental awareness of citizens the world over has promoted considerable demand for participation in environmental policy making, not always in the direction endorsed by government. Our basic thesis is that participation and collaboration are impossible without bi-directional communication. With respect to environmental risk issues, participation always involves communication and communication always involves participation. The case of the oil tanker ‘Prestige’ disaster off the coast of Galicia (North West Spain) in 2002 is a clear example of how ill-informed political decisions can have major social, environmental, and of course, political implications, and how the scale of the problem can vary widely depending on how effectively it is managed. Some findings were obtained in an extensive field study concerning public support for decision-making and the resulting policy during the crisis from the sinking of the tanker (García-Mira et al., 2006, 2007). The disaster was followed by intense social and political upheaval, in addition to obvious impacts upon marine and coastal ecosystems. Key issues in this study were related to identifying the scale level of policy-making, as well as the different conceptualizations of the problem on the part of citizens and policy makers. Some relevant points to participatory policy-making on risk, drawn from the case of the Prestige disaster, as well as some reflections on the political and economic consequences of the disaster will be commented in this presentation. 


Dr Ricardo García Mira is a Professor of Social and Environmental Psychology at the Department of Psychology of the University of Corunna, Spain. He has been leading the People-Environment Research Group in this University, where he has conducted applied research in environmental issues during the last 20 years. Current clients include the Galician Government, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Spain, and the European Commission (EFRD and FP7 programmes). He has been the Project Coordinator of the GLAMURS project (2014-2016), as well as the LOCAW project (2011-2013), and a partner of the TRANSIT project (2014-2017). He has been coordinating some recent research on the “Prestige” disaster occurred in 2002, or the Northwest Spain fires occurred in 2006.

R. García Mira is the President of the International Association for People-Environment Studies (IAPS), and he has been a Visiting Reader at the University of Surrey (UK, 2003-2012), and an International Visiting Scholar at Texas State University (San Marcos, USA, 2001). He is currently a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath.

He is the current European Editor of the Journal of Architectural and Planning Research and a member of the Editorial Committee of a number of international journals. Author/editor of more than 100 papers/monographs/reports and a number of books on environmental assessment, environmental attitudes and methodology issues. 

R. García Mira was recently elected as a Member of the Parliament of Spain, where he is the Spokesman for the Study of Climate Change among other roles.