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Conference 2021

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8 October 2021: Live online and in London

This year’s Population Matters conference, ‘Boom or Bust? Economy, wellbeing and population’, will examine how demographic changes can help develop an economy which delivers wellbeing and lasting security on a healthy planet.

An authoritative, high level and global range of speakers will discuss the opportunities for better policies and a better economic system, and, in the face of increasing scare stories about ageing societies, the event will explore how demographic changes which help solve our environmental crisis can also be good for people. Challenging conventional wisdom and presenting the options for a more rational, just and sustainable approach, this landmark event aims to change the narrative on population and economics.

The conference will be held simultaneously live at ETC St Paul’s, Aldersgate, London in a Covid-secure form, and as a participatory livestreamed online event. For the first time at a Population Matters conference, delegates from across the world will be able to watch the speakers live, join in Q&A sessions, download presentations and submit live feedback on the event. The event will run from 11am to 6pm UK time.

Registration and the event is now closed.

Download the full agenda here.


Chair – Emma Duncan

Emma is a columnist for The Times and is on the staff of The Economist, where she has been, among other roles, deputy editor.

Dr Eliya Zulu – Keynote

Eliya is the Executive Director and founder of the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) whose mission is to inform African public policy and planning with research evidence. Prior to founding AFIDEP, he was Director of Research at the African Population and Health Research Center, and is the former President of the Union for African Population Studies. Eliya has over 20 years’ experience in developing and managing research, capacity building, and policy engagement programmes on a wide range of issues including population change and sustainable development, family planning and policy analysis concerning Africa.

Chaitanya Kumar

Chaitanya is the New Economic Foundation’s (NEF) Head of Environment and Green Transition. He leads NEF’s work on the Green New Deal, just transition and other environmental programmes. He was previously Head of Climate and Energy Policy at Green Alliance in the UK and before that was based in New Delhi as South Asia campaigns leader for 350​.org. He has an MSc in energy policy from the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University.

Gaya Herrington

Gaya is a Director in Sustainability services at KPMG and Advisor to the Club of Rome. Previously she worked as Economic Policy Advisor and international Financial Regulator. Gaya holds a Bachelor’s in Econometrics from the University of Amsterdam and a Master’s in Sustainability from Harvard University.

Graeme Maxton

Graeme is the author of seven internationally acclaimed books on climate change, energy, economics and the automotive industry, printed in more than 20 different language editions. His latest books are ‘A Chicken Can’t Lay a Duck Egg’ (2020), – the German edition is ‘F*ck the System’ (2021) – and ‘Globaler Klimanotstand’ (2020). He is an Advisory Board Member of the UN’s Pathways Project, and a member of the Expert Advisory Board of Population Matters. He was previously Secretary General of the Club of Rome.

Jeroen van den Bergh

Jeroen is ICREA Professor in the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and honorary full Professor of Environmental Economics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His current research is on the interface of environmental economics, energy-climate studies and behavioural sciences. He is founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions. His latest book is ‘Human Evolution beyond Biology and Culture: Evolutionary Social, Environmental and Policy Sciences’, published by Cambridge University Press. Recent articles examine a transition path to global carbon pricing and the role of cities in combatting climate change.

Laurel Hanscom

As CEO of the Global Footprint Network, Laurel is dedicated to finding ways to support the sustainability movement. Whether it is by developing partnerships, promoting Global Footprint Network’s calculators and open data platform, or exploring ways to increase the relevance of our research, she strives to empower people with data. In addition to driving organizational strategy, Laurel oversees GFN’s programs and speaks publicly on sustainability.

Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah

Leticia is the Executive Director of the National Population Council (NPC) of Ghana. She oversees the council’s policy analysis and research focused on population policies consistent with the socio–economic aspirations of Ghana. Prior to her current appointment, Dr. Appiah served in various capacities with the Ghana Health Service for over two decades. She serves on numerous national and international advisory committees and consults with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa for West Africa. Awards include the Africa International Award of Merit from the WAI Press in 2021 and Africa Impact Leadership Award from the Centre For Economic & Leadership Development in 2018.

Prof Sarah Harper CBE

Sarah is Clore Professor of Gerontology at the University of Oxford, a Fellow at University College, and  Director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing. She currently directs the Oxford Programme on Fertility, Education and Environment (OxFEE).  She served on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, which advises the UK Prime Minister on the scientific evidence for strategic policies and frameworks and was the  Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Sarah  was appointed a CBE for services to Demography in 2018. 

Lord Adair Turner

Lord Turner chairs the Energy Transitions Commission, a global coalition of companies, NGOs and experts working to achieve a net zero economy by 2040. He is Chairman of insurer group Chubb Europe, Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking and is on the Advisory Board of Board of Shanghai energy group Envision. From 2008-2013, Lord Turner chaired the Financial Services Authority. He was previously Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, chairman of the Pensions Commission (2003-2006) and the first chairman of the UK’s Climate Change Committee.

The last elephant in the room: Population Matters conference 2019

Our 2019 conference brought together experts from across the world to discuss the impact of human population growth on biodiversity.

View the agenda for the day


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