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The events in our 2021-22 programme:

Tuesday 21st June 2022: "The economic case for restoring the largest natural terrestrial carbon store" by Professors Julia Martin-Ortega and Joseph Holden, University of Leeds.

Click here to download the .pdf file of the presentation.

Julia and Joseph have also provided further reading material for those interested in learning more. Click the links for the various articles:

Conservation in the face of public perceptions - the case of peatlands as 'the good, the bad and the ugly'

The economics of peatland restoration

Value landscapes and their impact on water policy preferences

The value base of water governance: a multi-disciplinary perspective


Peatlands cover over 400 million hectares of the Earth’s surface, i.e. over 3%. They store a third of the world’s soil carbon, which makes them the largest and the most space-effective carbon store of all terrestrial ecosystems. Climate change and land use and management, primarily agriculture and forestry following land drainage, is modifying the structure and function of these systems, potentially changing the global peatland greenhouse gas balance to a carbon source. This threatens stocks of natural capital that have formed over millennia, undermining the adaptive capacity of peatland systems to climatic and other future changes. Peatland degradation also compromises the delivery of other benefits provided by peatlands, such as erosion control, water quality and biodiversity. These issues have increasingly become a focus with policy makers nationally and internationally for addressing the climate emergency. For example, peatlands have featured prominently in the latest UN Climate Change Conference, COP26 held in Glasgow at the end of last year, where claims for scaling up peatland restoration efforts were emphasized. 

To understand whether investments in the restoration of degraded peatlands are socially desirable from an economic efficiency perspective, the costs and benefits of restoration need to be understood. This implies an economic valuation of goods and services that are, at present, not traded in (well-functioning) markets. This ‘café economique’ will present a pioneer study on the economic assessment of peatland restoration including the valuation of carbon sequestration, water quality and habitat support at the national level in Scotland. The work shows how investing in peatland restoration generates net benefits to society and also how doing it so sooner rather than later, avoids opportunity costs of over hundred millions of £ annually. This economic case has informed decision on the UK government's Climate Change plans to invest in the restoration of 35,000 hectares of peatlands in England by 2025 as part of its net zero land use policies, and has serve to provide evidence at the House of Lords.  This kind of analysis can also provide the basis reward or market-based instruments by which public or private agents compensate those who take action to protect ecosystems. 


Julia Martin-Ortega, Professor of Ecological Economics, has fifteen years of research experience in the understanding of the relationships of society and individuals with ecosystems and how policy can best make use of this understanding for the sustainable management of water and land resources. She specializes in inter and transdisciplinary research approaches of impact-oriented nature, and has expertise in the application of multiple environmental monetary and non-monetary valuation methods. Julia’s work has resulted in societal impact such as the amendment of the Scotland Water Resources Act (2013) and the influence and support of the UK’s Department of Environment, Food, Rural Affairs’ Nature for Climate Fund and the Scottish Peatland Action Programme, as well as Northern Ireland’s Soil Nutrient Health Scheme, each representing muti-million public investments in ecosystem restoration/land use programmes. She is currently Associate Director of water@leeds, member of the Social Sciences Expert Panel of Natural England, the Steering Committee of the Scottish Government’s Centre for Expertise in Waters and of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council College.

Professor Joseph Holden is a Cambridge graduate and holds a PhD from Durham University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society. He has held the Chair of Physical Geography at the University of Leeds for the last 15 years during which time he has been the Research Dean for the Faculty of Environment and he is also Director of water@leeds, one of the largest interdisciplinary university-based water research centres in the world. He has expertise in the hydrology and carbon dynamics of peatlands, catchment hydrology and land management impacts on flooding, soil processes and flowpaths. He runs the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) which seeks to apply environmental science to maximise resilient economic growth and social benefit in Yorkshire. He sits on Defra’s Water Expert Advisory Group, the scientific advisory board for MS Amlin, a major re-insurance company, chairs the Viking windfarm environmental advisory group on Shetland, and sits on Natural England’s peatland strategy group. He has published > 180 research papers and is lead author/editor of three university textbooks.

Tuesday 3rd May 2022: "Digitalisation, Covid-19 and the future of work in the UK" by Professor Mark Stuart


The talk will explore recent controversies on the future of work and present data on employers' responses to digitalisation and the Covid-19 crisis. There has been much debate on the likely impact of new digital technologies on work and employment, with analysts focusing on the extent to which new technologies either substitute for or enhance the role of workers. In this context, has the Covid-19 crisis led to an acceleration of digital investment and, if so, what are the likely implication of this for those in work? The talk will examine these questions by drawing on two unique surveys of UK employers, the first specifically looking at employers' digital management practices and the second looking at employers' use of furloughing during Covid-19. It is argued that there is some evidence to support an acceleration of digital investment during the Covid-19 crisis and this may have significant longer-term effects on the UK labour market. Notably, while government support for furloughing staff during the Covid-19 crisis was largely successful in preventing a massive increase in unemployment, there is evidence to suggest that during this period employers were increasing investment in digital technologies that, on the one hand, may have positive implications for workers' jobs, but, on the other hand, may lead to increased levels of worker redundancies in years to come. 



Professor Mark Stuart is the Pro Dean for Research and Innovation, Montague Burton Professor of Human Resource Management and Employment Relations Director of the Centre for Employment Relations Innovation at Leeds University Business School.

Tuesday 1st March 2022: "Is the NHS being privatised and does it matter?" by John Puntis,  Retired Consultant Paediatrician

Click here to see the recording of this event


Private companies play an increasing role in the NHS. The pandemic has demonstrated how an unregulated market has cost the taxpayer dear, with little benefit. The £37bn for a crucial 'test and trace' service was examined by the National Audit Office with the conclusion that there was no evidence it had reduced the spread of infection. Contracts for Personal Protective Equipment were fast tracked for companies with no relevant experience but support from senior conservative party members. Politicians are keen to deny the Health and Care Bill now going through parliament is anything to do with further privatisation while finding it difficult to explain what it does hope to achieve in the midst of a pandemic. The proportion of NHS budget finding its way to the private sector continues to increase while government claims the NHS is and will remain free at the time of use. What challenges has covid thrown up for health and social care and how should they be addressed?

Tuesday 1st February 2022: "Yorkshire as MedTech Innovation Hub" by Dr Mike Raxworthy,  CEO of Neotherix and Associate Professor, University of Leeds.

Click here to see the recording of this event


Yorkshire has a strong heritage in medical technology – in which we include the medical device and diagnostics industries.  For instance, Charles F Thackray started supplying sterile wound dressings and surgical instruments from his pharmacy shop in Great George Street in 1906 and TJ Smith was active in supplying cod liver oil from Hull Docks in 1856 – eventually leading to the formation of Smith & Nephew in 1896.  Today, MedTech is a nationally-important sector, with a turnover of over £24bn and employing over 127,000 people.  Yorkshire and the Humber constitutes 10% of this total – larger than any other region except the South East.


Leeds (and the Leeds City Region) is home to around 250 MedTech businesses, the majority of these being SMEs.  Activities range from digital health, advanced medical textiles, regenerative devices, rapid diagnostic tests, point of care monitoring equipment and tissue repair scaffolds. With an ecosystem comprising a significant concentration of NHS headquarters, leading teaching hospitals and major universities engaged in MedTech research, companies are in a strong position to form collaborations to bring new innovations through the complex new product development process.  We will look at a few cases in this talk, examine trends and speculate on possible future devices bringing new benefits to patients.










Mike Raxworthy is a biomedical scientist and holds a PhD from the University of Leeds. He has over 32 years’ experience leading research and development projects in the medical technology, medical device and pharmaceutical industries, having held senior roles at Smith & Nephew and 3M Health Care.  His first involvement in tissue engineering/regenerative medicine was in 1996. He holds an MBA from Warwick Business School and is also the founder and CEO of Neotherix, which he spun-out from Smith & Nephew in 2007 to focus on bioresorbable regenerative scaffolds for tissue repair.  Mike combines Neotherix responsibilities with those of Associate Professor in Engineering Management and Innovation at the University of Leeds.  He was a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Medical Technology Innovation and Translation at Leeds from 2015-2018.

Mike’s background has provided an understanding of the workings of large and micro companies as well as extensive experience of the public sector through business engagement and education roles at Leeds.  Many lessons on the challenges of MedTech translation from lab to market have been learned (and are still being learned) along the way.  He has a strong interest in entrepreneurship and the innovation process and in selecting and developing the most promising ideas and concepts using appropriate decision criteria. He has recently been able to apply this interest to the translation of MedTech in low-resource settings and is the Principal Investigator for a Global Challenges Research Fund project focusing on biomedical engineering in East Africa.


Tuesday 18th January 2022: "Universal Basic Income and  Universal Basic Services: Complementary or  Competitive ? Do we need to choose ?" by Dr Simon Duffy,  Centre for Welfare Reform and Anna Coote, New Economics  Foundation

Click this link to see the recording of this event


Simon Duffy will argue that advocacy for Universal Basic Income ( UBI) is our best chance to fight growing poverty, insecurity and inequality. Basic income does not only help us tackle many of the serious economic problems we face but it also opens the door to a more empowered, healthy and engaged democracy.


Anna Coote  will talk about “Life’s essentials for all: the case for universal basic services and the Social Guarantee.”


Dr Simon Duffy is Director of Citizen Network Research and President of Citizen Network Coop. Over the last 30 years his work has focused on how to create a world where everyone can be an active and valued citizen. In 2016 co-founded UBI Lab Sheffield and the UBI Lab Network and there are now 44 UBI Labs around the world, all promoting the case for basic income. He has also been very active in exploring how the principles Universal Basic Income (UBI) can also be used to reform disability benefits. For more information about Simon and his work:













Anna Coote is Principal Fellow at the New Economics Foundation (NEF). A leading analyst, writer and advocate in social policy, she has written widely on social justice, sustainable development, working time, public health policy, public involvement and democratic dialogue, gender and equality. She is co-author of The Case for Universal Basic Services (2020 Polity Press) and The Case for a Four Day Week (2020 Polity Press). She directs the Social Guarantee initiative, which promotes collective measures to ensure universal access to life’s essentials.



Tuesday 7th December 2021: "Food, power, poverty and climate - humanity at a crossroads" by Geoff Tansey.

click this link to access the recording of Geoff Tansey's talk.


Our food systems are where climate change, biodiversity loss, growing inequality, health and well-being interact from a personal to global level. In his talk Geoff Tansey will discuss some of the major changes since the first World Food Conference in 1974 to the UN Food System Summit in 2021. Shifts in who has what power and control over our food and who carries the risks and benefits from changes in the food system provide a lens through which to see the challenges and choices facing us in the 21st century.

Geoff Tansey is an independent writer who curates the online, open access Food Systems Academy. He chaired the independent Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty. He helped found and edit the journal Food Policy, has worked as a consultant to international agencies, governments and non-governmental organisations, and has worked on agricultural development projects in Turkey, Mongolia, Albania and Kazakstan. He is an honorary visiting fellow at the Centre for Rural Economy at Newcastle University and several other universities.

His books include The future control of food - A guide to international negotiations and rules on intellectual property, biodiversity and food security co-edited with Tasmin Tajotte and The Food System: a guide with Tony Worsley. In June 2005, he received one of six Joseph Rowntree ‘Visionaries’ Awards and won the Derek Cooper Award for best food campaigner/educator.

Tuesday 5th October 2021: "Global development scenarios in a 'post-Covid 19' world: the ugly, the bad and the good?" by Professor David Hulme, University of Manchester.

click this link to access the slides of Professor Hulme's talk

click this link to access the recording of Professor Hulme's talk

click this link to access the recording of the discussion following Professor Hulme's talk


Covid-19 has had profound effects on global development and, in turn, patterns of global development have shaped the evolution of the coronavirus. There have been short-term effects - increased mortality and economic slow-downs - and longer-term impacts - increased scientific capacity for vaccination development and home-working.  In this presentation, I examine scenarios for the future in the light of the pandemic. Will these be 'ugly' (dramatically reducing the quality of global governance and prospects for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals/SDGs), 'bad' (leaving a poorly functioning global governance system as it is) or could they be 'good' (creating the impetus for more effective international action to tackle global problems)?

David Hulme is Professor of Development Studies at the University of Manchester where he was Executive Director of the Global Development Institute (GDI). He is CEO of the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre (ESID) and the FutureDAMS Research Centre (FutureDAMS),( and FutureDAMS (, interdisciplinary partnerships of research institutes and think-tanks across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.


David has worked on  poverty and poverty reduction, microfinance, governance and public sector management, the role of NGOs in conflict/peace and development, environmental management and social protection for more than 30 years in South Asia, East Africa and the Pacific.His recent books include What Works for Africa’s Poorest? (Practical Action 2017), Should Rich Nations Help the Poor? (Polity, 2016).

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