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Sumatran orangutans are among the many species being pushed to the brink of extinction by unsustainable oil palm plantations.

Together with Chester Zoo, and under its TEDxUoChester licence, the University is hosting a virtual TEDx event on Wednesday, October 14, as part of TED’s global initiative – Countdown  – which aims to turn ideas into action.

Jenni Davies, Events Manager at the University of Chester, and organiser of the virtual event, said: “The talks will fall into five categories: Nature; Energy; Transport; Food; and Materials. It all begins at 10 am and will feature speakers from the University and the Zoo – as well as videos from the global Countdown event. We are delighted to be a part of this international initiative which is promoting a safer, cleaner, fairer future.”

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Speakers at the virtual TEDx event
Speakers at the virtual TEDx event

The speakers for TEDxUoChester Countdown 2020 are:


Responding to Climate Change: reducing vulnerability and enhancing resilience

Dr Servel Miller is an Associated Professor in Natural Hazard Management at the University. He is the Programme Leader for the BSc in Natural Hazard Management and the MSc in Flood Risk Assessment Modelling and Engineering.

Dr Miller is a Geoscientist with a particular interest in the development and application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) on Natural Hazard Management. His research focuses mainly on regions of the Caribbean and the United Kingdom, investigating the impact that major catastrophes (such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunami and volcanoes) have on the development of cities, the economy and the environment.

WILD Life: Co-existing in nature as an evolutionary imperative

Dr Lindsay Murray’s talk will highlight examples of the impact of climate change, largely through human activity, on wildlife and, using the experience of the ‘anthropause’ during lockdown as a catalyst, aim to encourage a call to action towards greener, wilder and more respectful ways of co-existing with other species in nature for the shared benefit of all.

Dr Lindsay Murray is a Senior Lecturer in Animal Psychology at the University. Her research interests are predominantly in primatology, particularly personality, laterality, social behaviour and self-recognition, but also extend to wider aspects of animal behaviour, including elephant grief and ecotourism involving brown bears. She is on the Council of the Primate Society of Great Britain and the Education Committee of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


H2Go - clean energy and industrial decarbonisation

Professor Joe Howe is Executive Director and Professor of the Thornton Energy Institute at the University.

Industry accounts for around a quarter of all UK greenhouse gas emissions - with the majority of these coming from a small number of energy intensive industries. It is recognised that, if the world is to meet the ambitions of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, industry needs to reduce its emissions. Professor Howe’s presentation will provide an in-depth look at the emerging proposition to decarbonise its major industrial cluster.


Cycling for Sustainability: Transport and the climate crisis

Professor Peter Cox’s research covers a range of studies on the sociology of cycling and cycle activism. He also contributes to the delivery of the Politics programme at the University, as well as continuing to work on the problems of sustainable mobility, active travel and its importance for social justice, in which capacity he contributes to a number of international networks.


Halting deforestation through sustainable palm oil cities

Catherine Barton, Jennifer Tegg

Catherine Barton and Jennifer Tegg from Chester Zoo uncover the secrets of the success of the Sustainable Palm Oil City. An innovative behaviour change programme that aimed to increase demand for sustainable palm oil one city at a time. They will discuss the importance of pragmatic, collaborative and inter-disciplinary approaches to conservation and the importance of people power in their mission – preventing extinction.

Catherine Barton is Field Conservation Manager at Chester Zoo, leading on the Zoo’s field conservation work in Borneo and Sumatra and engaging with stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain, from other NGOs to field partners and local businesses. She works with international zoos and conservation organisations to find solutions to reversing the environmental impact of unsustainable palm oil, and has developed a network of partners crucial to the delivery of the sustainable palm oil city project.

Jennifer Tegg is Head of Marketing at Chester Zoo and supports the organisation’s mission using behaviour change theory and her own experiences of delivering community-based behaviour change projects to help launch the sustainable palm oil city project in 2017. She aims to find innovative and engaging ways of empowering, involving and communicating with audiences to deliver conservation impact.


These old things?  Why we need to embrace new ways of making old things new

Dr Rebecca Collins

If everyone in the world lived the same materially comfortable lifestyles that most of us in the UK enjoy, we would need 2.4 planets to sustain that level of consumption. But we only have one planet, and billions of people still far from accessing lifestyles that would bring them out of poverty. Material consumption in the wealthy Global North has got to change. This talk considers how cultural processes around the production of novelty could have a role to play in reducing the environmental impacts of our ‘over-stuffed’ lives. 

Dr Rebecca Collins is Deputy Head of the Department of Geography and International Development. She is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography with research interests in sustainable consumption and production, material culture, and young adults’ engagement with consumer culture and environmental care. Her current research investigates the meaning and practice of novelty in young adults’ clothing consumption. 

Notes to editors:

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes or less. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia. TED's media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; TED Translators, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed. TED has established The Audacious Project that takes a collaborative approach to funding ideas with the potential to create change at thrilling scale; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self- organized TED-style events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

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