Research in Focus
This event will be followed by a free drinks reception, a photo exhibition and an interactive installation in the Hub's 3Sixty space.
About half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and ongoing migration into cities has given rise to larger, ultimately, mega-cities. Latest figures show that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be urban - equivalent to around 6.3 billion people. If not managed adequately, urbanization can adversely affect the health and wellbeing of human beings and lead to social and environmental injustice. It has long been recognised that that the quality and distribution of the natural environment within cities (e.g. amounts of blue and green space, levels of pollution and the degree of biodiversity) affects the health, wellbeing and equity amongst city populations. However, the relationship between these different endpoints is still relatively poorly understood. With improved understandings of these relationships, it may be possible to better manage natural environments within cities providing multiple benefits to the whole community.
New technologies, such as wireless sensing networks, wearable devices, drones, crowdsourcing, 3D models of cities and virtual reality used together could provide the environmental, health and social data we need to understand the relationships between the quality of natural systems and linkage to health, wellbeing and equity of city populations at very high temporal and spatial resolutions. The York City Environment Observatory (YCEO) project, which is jointly led by the City of York Council and the University of York, aims to design and lay the groundwork for establishing a unique city observatory for determining the links between environment quality issues in York in order to better understand how these issues affect health, well-being and the economy of the city. The YCEO will look to the past, present and future in trying to diagnose and predict environmental issues for York and their associated human health and well-being and economic impacts.
This series of three keynote lectures, given by leading experts from environment and health, will explore the importance of place and nature, how the environment affects our health and wellbeing, and finally, how novel projects, such as the York City Environment Observatory, seek to understand and quantify these relationships.
Ruth Davis is a writer, campaigner, political analyst and conservationist with over twenty years’ experience in the environment sector.
Her areas of interest include the relationship between environmental politics, social justice and the wider politics of the common good; the importance of place and a love of nature in determining identity and fostering well-being; and how these forces interact with different models of economic development and democratic participation, to shape future land-use planning, housing and infrastructure choices.
She took her first degree in English at Oxford before studying at Kew Gardens and Reading University, where she obtained an MSc in Plant Sciences. Between 1997 and 2001 she managed an extensive programme of conservation projects for Plantlife – the Wild Plant Conservation Charity - before joining the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, where she lead the Society’s work on water and climate change. From 2009 to 2015 she was Political Director at Greenpeace UK, where she helped develop and implement campaigns on climate and energy, fair and sustainable fishing and the protection of the Arctic. Ruth writes extensively about the philosophy, politics and practice of environmentalism, and was awarded an MBE for services to the environment in 2014.
Mike Depledge has given hundreds of lectures at international conferences, workshops, universities and research institutes over the past 30 years, to a wide range of audiences. He has recently led establishment of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health on the University of Exeter Medical School campus in Truro.
Professor Depledge is interested in all aspects of biology, but especially the ways in which anthropogenic activities affect the environment and human health. The ecotoxicological research he conducted has focused on the effects of environmental pollutants on the physiology and behaviour of marine invertebrates and subsequent ecological and evolutionary consequences. He has a particular interest in biomarkers that allow changes in the health and physiological status of organisms to be monitored over time.
Alistair Boxall is Professor in Environmental Science. Alistair’s research focuses on understanding emerging and future ecological and health risks posed by chemical contaminants in the natural environment. Alistair is a member of the Defra Advisory Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee and is Chair of the Pharmaceutical Advisory Group of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. He regularly advises national and international organisations on issues relating to chemical impacts on the environment and has published extensively on the topic of emerging contaminants (pharmaceuticals, nanomaterials and veterinary medicines) in the environment. Alistair is co-ordinator of the 3.5 M Euro project 'CAPACITIE' which is exploring methods for monitoring pollution in cities.