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Conservation Research Institute


Twenty years ago, the Gates Foundation made a landmark donation to establish the Gates Cambridge Scholarship Programme.

As part of a year-long programme of celebrations, the Vice-Chancellor invites you to join this very special online event to take place on Wednesday 14 April between 5.30pm and 6.30pm BST. 

Together with Gates Cambridge Trustee Professor Bhaskar Vira, Founding Director of the Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, and three exceptional Gates Cambridge alumni, he will discuss climate change, its implications for society, and the paths our Gates alumni are forging towards a sustainable future. 

We look forward to welcoming you to a lively discussion focusing on the power of knowledge and dedication to change the world.

Register Here

The Discussion — Climate Change: The World's Greatest Challenge

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing our planet: a challenge that affects every aspect of our lives, from our health to our food to the very viability of our cities. Its repercussions are already being felt the world over through the increasing number of extreme weather events and consequential disasters including fires, floods and droughts. Threats to food and water security and fundamental inequalities between rich and poor countries will intensify. 

If we do not address this challenge — and do so effectively — we risk our society and the existence of every living thing on Earth.

Gates Cambridge Scholars are working across every discipline to stop further climate change and to prevent the worst of its impact. Our panel of experts will cast a spotlight on what it takes to avoid catastrophic climate change and alleviate the current effects of our shifting environment.


Vice Chancellor

Professor Stephen J Toope (Trinity 1983)


Professor Stephen J Toope OC, LL.D. is 346th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, the first non-UK national to hold the post.  He was Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and President, the University of British Columbia.  A former Dean of Law, McGill University, Toope was also Chair of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

Toope publishes in global journals on human rights, international dispute resolution, international environmental law, the use of force, and international legal theory, and has lectured at universities around the world.  His current book project with Professor Jutta Brunnée explores mechanisms and processes fostering stability and change in international law.

Bhaskar Vira 2

Professor Bhaskar Vira (St John's 1988)

Trustee, Gates Cambridge Trust

Head of the Department of Geography, Founding Director of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute; Professor of Political Economy; Fellow, Graduate Tutor and Director of Studies in Geography at Fitzwilliam College.

Trained as an economist, Bhaskar’s research is concerned, in particular, with the often-hidden costs of environmental and developmental processes, and the need for scholarship to draw attention to the distributional consequences of public policy choices. His work brings a critical political economy perspective to contemporary debates about development priorities and competing implications for nature and human wellbeing.

Bhaskar has played important roles in science-policy processes linked with environment and development, including the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the UK National Ecosystem Assessment and the Royal Society Working Group on Human Resilience to Climate Change and Disasters. He Chaired the Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Food, and worked as a member of the Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Water.

Victoria Herrmann 3

Dr Victoria Herrmann (Pembroke 2014)

President and Managing Director of The Arctic Institute

Dr Victoria Herrmann is the President and Managing Director of The Arctic Institute and an Assistant Research Professor at Georgetown University, where her research and writing focus on climate change, community adaptation, and migration. Victoria has testified before the U.S. Senate, served as the Alaska Review Editor for the Fourth National Climate Assessment, contributes to The Guardian and Scientific American on climate policy, and was named one of the most 100 influential people in climate policy worldwide in 2019 by Apolitical.

Victoria currently serves as the Principle Investigator of the National Science Foundation funded Arctic Migration in Harmony: An Interdisciplinary Network on Littoral Species, Settlements, and Cultures on the Move, a major international initiative to integrate discipline-isolated research on changing Arctic migration patterns and advance knowledge on the movement of peoples, economies, cultures, and ecosystems catalyzed by environmental variability.

Beyond the Arctic, Victoria studies climate-induced displacement, migration, and relocation in North America and Fiji as a National Geographic Explorer. She was previously a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, a Fulbright Awardee to Canada, a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academies of Sciences, and a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where she received her PhD in Geography.

Aditi Mukherji 2

Dr Aditi Mukherji (Fitzwilliam 2003)

Principal Researcher at the International Water Management Institute 

Aditi led the Water and Air Theme at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Nepal. Aditi is a Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of the Water Chapter in the Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC,) and a member, Core Writing Team of the IPCC’s AR6 Synthesis Report. 

She has over 20 years of research experience. Her areas of specialization are groundwater governance, energy-irrigation nexus, climate change adaptation and community management of water resources. She has worked in South Asia including the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, Nile Basin and in Central Asia. She has published over 60 peer reviewed research papers and three edited books. In 2012, she was awarded the Inaugural Norman Borlaug Field Award, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation and given by the World Food Prize Foundation, USA. 

Aditi is a human geographer by training and has a PhD from Cambridge University, United Kingdom, where she was a Gates Cambridge Scholar. 

Bee Yin Yeo

Yeo Bee Yin (Corpus Christi 2009)

Member of Parliament (MP), Bakri

Bee Yin is the former Minister of Energy, Technology, Science, Environment and Climate Change of Malaysia. She is currently serving as the Member of Parliament for Bakri. She is also the National Assistant Publicity Secretary of the Democratic Action Party.

Bee Yin graduated from University Technology Petronas with first-class honours in Chemical Engineering and completed her MPhil in Advanced Chemical Engineering as a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge. At 29, Bee Yin first contested in Malaysia's 13th General Election and became the youngest member of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly for 2013-2018. In the 14th General Election, Bee Yin made history, by gaining the highest majority ever in the Bakri parliament constituency. After the election, she was appointed as the minister and became the youngest female minister appointed to the cabinet. 

During her tenure as minister, Bee Yin was recognised by the renowned scientific journal 'Nature' as one of the top 10 people who mattered in 2018. She was also named as one of the Seven People Who Stood Up for Our Planet 2018 by 'Eco-Business' and listed as one of the 25 Inspirational Female Climate Leaders who will be shaping the climate agenda in 2019 by 'The Ecologist'. Bee Yin is a member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders for the class of 2019.

Wednesday, 14 April, 2021 - 17:30