More speakers will be announced over the upcoming months
Opening Keynote Speaker
Honourable Tuila‘epa Dr Sa‘ilele Malielegaoi
Prime Minister of Samoa
Tuila‘epa Dr Sa‘ilele Malielegaoi, Samoa’s longest serving Prime Minister, was one of the leading Pacific Island voices at the Climate Change Conference that led to the Paris Agreement in December 2015. He continues to play a key role in the international fight to mitigate and reduce the effects of anthropogenic climate change. Samoa aims to achieve 20 percent carbon neutrality by 2030 and 100 percent renewable energy in power generation, and has developed a number of solar energy arrays and biofuel projects to achieve these ambitious goals.
“It is very important that our Pacific Island countries come together at this conference and all nations take action to stop climate change. Rising sea levels means that the very survival of our island homes is at risk.”
Prof Will Steffen
Emeritus Professor, Australian National University
Will Steffen is an Earth System scientist. He is a Councillor on the publicly-funded Climate Council of Australia that delivers independent expert information about climate change, an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University (ANU); Canberra, a Senior Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden; and a Fellow at the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra, working with the Canberra Urban and Regional Futures (CURF) program, and is a member of the ACT Climate Change Council. He is chair of the jury for the Volvo Environment Prize; a member of the International Advisory Board for the Centre for Collective Action Research, Gothenburg University, Sweden; and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group of the Sub-committee on Quaternary Stratigraphy.
From 1998 to mid-2004, Steffen served as Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, based in Stockholm, Sweden. His research interests span a broad range within the fields of climate and Earth System science, with an emphasis on incorporation of human processes in Earth System modelling and analysis; and on sustainability and climate change.
"There is no area more at risk from climate change than the Pacific island states. The Pacific Climate Change Conference is unique in bringing together a very broad range of concerned people - from political leaders to citizens to scientists and artists - to explore the rapidly changing nature of these risks and what can be done to meet them."
Prof Michael Mann
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC). His research involves the use of theoretical models.
"I am honored to be giving a keynote address at this important conference. We are at a crossroads when it comes to dealing with the threat of human-caused climate change. We must make a concerted effort if we are to avoid dangerous and potentially irreversible changes in climate. Such an effort requires that the scientific community remain engaged with stakeholders, policymakers, and other academics and opinion leaders as chart a path forward that builds on the historic 2015 Paris climate agreement. That is precisely what the Pacific Climate Change Conference 2018 seeks to do, and I couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of it."
Prof Daniel Nocera
Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
Daniel G. Nocera is the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University. He is a leading researcher in renewable energy. He accomplished the solar fuels process of photosynthesis–the splitting of water to hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight and translated this science to produce the artificial leaf, which was named by Time magazine as Innovation of the Year for 2011. He has since elaborated this invention to accomplish a complete artificial photosynthesic cycle. To do so, he created the bionic leaf, which uses the hydrogen from that artificial leaf and carbon dioxide from air to make biomass and liquid fuels. His bionic leaf, which was named by Scientific American and the World Economic Forum as the Breakthrough Technology for 2017, performs artificial photosynthesis that is ten times more efficient than natural photosynthesis. These science discoveries set a course for the large-scale deployment of solar energy in a distributed fashion, especially for those in the emerging world. His research contributions in renewable energy have been recognized by several awards, some of which include the Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy, Eni Prize, IAPS Award, Burghausen Prize, Elizabeth Wood Award and the United Nation’s Science and Technology Award and from the American Chemical Society the Inorganic Chemistry, Harrison Howe. Kosolapoff and Remsen Awards. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Indian Academy of Sciences. He is Editor-in-Chief of Chemical Science and is a frequent guest on TV and radio, and is regularly featured in print. He founded the energy company Sun Catalytix and its technology is now being commercialized by Lockheed Martin.
Dr Patila Malua-Amosa
Dean, Faculty of Science, National University of Samoa
Patila Amosa, PhD is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Science and Dean, Faculty of Science at the National University of Samoa. She has contributed to pre-tertiary and tertiary education through curriculum development, setting national and regional examinations and conducting in-service training for science teachers. With Climate Change impacts evident in both fresh and marine resources of island communities, Dr Amosa’s areas of research have focused on chemical and microbiological assessment of water resources in Samoa and marine biogeochemistry, particularly on the impacts of ocean acidification on the dissolution of biogenic skeletons.
Sir Geoffrey Palmer
Distinguished Fellow, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington
Barrister, Harbour Chambers, Wellington; Distinguished Fellow, Faculty of Law and Centre for Public Law, Victoria University of Wellington; Global Affiliated Professor, College of Law, University of Iowa; Visiting Professor Queen Mary, University of London.
Born in Nelson, Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC was a law professor in the United States and New Zealand before entering New Zealand politics as the MP for Christchurch Central in 1979.
In Parliament he held the offices of Attorney-General, Minister of Justice, Leader of the House, Minister for the Environment, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister.
Sir Geoffrey is a Distinguished Fellow of the New Zealand Centre for Public Law and the Law Faculty at the Victoria University of Wellington. He has an extensive list of publications in legal periodicals and is the author or co-author of 12 books.
"I am going to this Conference because climate change is the most important issue facing humankind."
Founder, Blue Ocean Law
Julian Aguon is the founder and visionary behind Blue Ocean Law, a progressive law firm that operates at the forefront of contemporary international law while remaining rooted in respect for the myriad peoples of the Pacific region. Devoted to breaking new ground in the areas of international human rights and environmental law, Julian, a native son of Guam, is a United Nations-recognized expert on the international law of self-determination. Licensed to practice law in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and Guam, Julian has served as attorney of record, legal advisor, and/or consultant to the Guam Legislature, the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures, the Pacific Island Health Officers Association, the Local Atoll Governments of Rongelap and Utrik, the NMD Corporation of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Federated States of Micronesia-based Micronesian Shipping Commission, the Fiji-based Pacific Network on Globalisation, and other civil society organizations in the Pacific and Europe.
Prof D. Kapua’ala Sproat
Associate Professor & Director of the Native Hawaiian Law Center
Prof Kapua Sproat is Director of the Environmental Law Clinic, Acting Director of the Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law, and an Associate Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii. She teaches courses in Native Hawaiian Law, Environmental Law, and Legal Research and Writing. In addition to her teaching, Prof Sproat assists with all aspects of Ka Huli Ao's program work, including Native Hawaiian student recruitment and retention, community outreach and education, and fund development. Her work for the Environmental Law Clinic involves supervising law students research and undertake real environmental law cases, with a focus on indigenous rights. Her areas of scholarship and interest include Native Hawaiian law, indigenous rights, and natural resource protection and management.
Prior to joining the faculty, Prof Sproat spent nine years as an attorney in the Hawai‘i office of Earthjustice, a national, public interest environmental litigation firm. She litigated state and federal cases under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, State Water Code, and various Hawai‘i environmental laws, including the ground-breaking litigation to return diverted stream flows to public trust and other community uses, including traditional Hawaiian agriculture and aquaculture.
In 2016, she published an article in Stanford Environmental Law Journal on “An Indigenous People’s Right to Environmental Self-Determination: Native Hawaiians and the Struggle Against Climate Change Devastation”. We have invited Prof Sproat to speak on her article on the effects of climate change on Native Hawaiian culture. Prof Sproat has agreed to also give a public lecture on the evening before the conference starts, Tuesday, 20 February 2018, with Julian Aguon and Ani Mikaere.
Prof Sproat’s visit is funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation.
Prof Elisabeth Holland
Professor of Climate Change, Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development, University of the South Pacific
Professor Elisabeth Holland is the Director of the Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD, and the University of the South Pacific’s Professor of Climate Change. Professor Holland is passionate about working collaboratively with communities, and networks of practice to support climate resilient development practices that protect the health of the Pacific’s Big Ocean States (BOS). She and her team have worked in 160 communities in 15 Pacific Island countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor L’este, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Before coming to USP, Professor Holland was internationally recognised for her work in the Earth System. She is an author of four of the five IPCC reports having served as a US, German and Fiji representative and a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
With a career spanning more than three decades, Professor Holland is a Leopold Fellow, led USP’s delegation to support 8 Pacific governments in negotiating the Paris Agreement, served as a professor at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena Germany, and Senior Scientist & leader of the Interdisciplinary Biogeosciences Program at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, USA.
Aroha Te Pareake Mead
Aroha Te Pareake Mead is an independent ressearcher from Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou (Māori), Aotearoa New Zealand. She has been involved in Māori and indigenous bio-cultural heritage and conservation issues for over thirty years at local, national, Pacific regional and international levels and has published extensively in these fields. She is currently on the Kahui Māori for the Deep South Climate Change National Science Challenge, the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Advisory Panel of Te Papa and member of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Expert Technical Working Group on Diverse Conceptualisation of Values of Nature and Ecosystems.
Her past work includes being Chair of the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic & Social Policy (CEESP) 2008-2016, Chair of the Board of the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment 2010-2017, Director & Senior Lecturer of the Māori Business Unit, Victoria University of Wellington 2000-2015, Policy Manager, Cultural Heritage & Indigenous Issues Unit, Te Puni Kokiri 1996-2004 and Foreign Policy Convenor, National Māori Congress 1991-2003.
Dr James Renwick
Professor of Physical Geography, Victoria University of Wellington
James is fascinated by the general circulation of the atmosphere – how the atmosphere transports energy and momentum and what it does to achieve this. In particular, he is interested in how heating in the tropics is communicated to higher latitudes by the excitation of large-scale waves and how this affects the storm tracks and jet streams. In recent years, James developed an interest in Antarctic climate, especially the growth and decay of Antarctic sea ice. How does the atmospheric circulation (the wind) affect sea ice extent? How this can be tied back to tropical influences?
James is also involved with climate prediction work, from months to centuries, having worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process for several years, and speaking regularly to the media on climate change issues.
With a general background in atmospheric physics, plus mathematics and statistics, James has broad interests most aspects of climate, from the distant past to the near future. This includes paleoclimate reconstruction, synoptic climatology, the climate of New Zealand, climate modelling, climate change, and the use of statistical and matrix techniques to analyse large data sets.
Born in Kerikeri Chris Booth has been at the forefront of environmental sculpture in a number of countries for over four decades.
Chris has a profound interest in developing a creative language that involves deeply
meaningful relationships with landforms, flora and fauna. He has a special interest in trying to communicate a real sense of responsibility to our living planet.
Social history and engagement with the wider community, in particular the indigenous community, are paramount to his art practice.
"Participating in this conference empowers my efforts as an artist to communicate to and engage with people about making urgent and real change to the way we live in the hope of lessening the catastrophic effects of climate change, especially for our children and future generations."
Coordinator, The Climate Challenge
Feeling failed by her school's climate change education, at just 15 Anya worked with youth climate advocacy organisation Generation Zero to empower her peers to be climate leaders. This started the Climate Challenge, a series of conferences run for and by high school students. Two years later 250 high school students have passed through the program and she is leading the organisation as it expands to over 500 students in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in 2018. Anya is also sitting on the Wellington City Youth Council for her fourth term and interning for now Minister Julie Anne Genter.
Dr Dave Frame
Climate Change Research, Victoria University of Wellington
Dave Frame is Victoria University of Wellington's Professor of Climate Change, and is Director of the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (NZCCRI). He has a background in physics, philosophy and policy. Prior to joining the NZCCRI Dave spent the bulk of his career at the University of Oxford, working in the Departments of Physics and Geography, and later at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. He also has real world policy experience, having worked in the New Zealand Treasury’s Policy Coordination and Development group, and having served on secondment at the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. He was a Lead Author on the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and his research has often been published in the world's leading scientific research journals, as well as in the specialist climate literature.
Professor Grant Guilford
Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington
Professor Guilford took up the role of Vice-Chancellor in March 2014. He was previously the Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Auckland and a member of its Senior Management Team. He has successfully led large and complex academic organisations, beginning with the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences at Massey University.
Professor Guilford holds Bachelor of Philosophy and Bachelor of Veterinary Science degrees from Massey University and a PhD in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis. Earlier in his career, he undertook teaching, research, clinical and leadership roles at the University of Missouri, the University of California, Davis, and Massey University.
He has driven major capital works processes and participated in a wide range of commercialisation processes, and has been on the board of a number of companies, research consortia, joint ventures, centres of research excellence and a Crown Research Institute.
"Victoria is proud to be once again hosting this critically important conference. We need to send a powerful message to our politicians about the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for cross-party and international consensus, bold policy, firm regulation, and very significant investment."
Director, LeA International
Pualele Penehuro “Pene” Lefale is an internationally acclaimed climate and policy analyst. Pene has a long history of work in international climate science and policy implementation, having begun his professional career as a weather observer at the former New Zealand Meteorological Service (NZMS), Apia Observatory, Mulinu`u, Samoa, in December 1982, and later becoming the head of the Climate Division at Samoa Meteorological Service when it was fully localized in 1988. He has worked for a number of intergovernmental, non-governmental and private sector organizations, including World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Programme (SPREP), National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research of New Zealand (NIWA) and the Meteorological Service of New Zealand Ltd (MetService). He was a contributor to the Award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC, in his role as Lead Author of the Small islands Chapter, Working Group II of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Pene's full CV is available at http://ilea.co.nz/resources/CV_Lefale_PF_170525_LeA.pdf
Mayor of Wellington City
Justin Lester was elected Mayor in 2016. He joined Wellington City Council as a Northern Ward Councillor in 2010 and then served as Deputy Mayor from 2013 until 2016.
During his time as a Councillor, Justin championed the living wage, prioritised good quality local services and supported local businesses. He feels strongly that good local government services make a huge difference in people’s lives.
Justin’s priorities as Mayor include kick-starting the economy, making housing affordable, improving Wellington’s transport, replacing outdated bylaws, ensuring the resilience of Wellington and prioritising arts funding.
Kaihautū Whakatupu Mātauranga at Te Wānanga o Raukawa
Ani Mikaere is from Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Porou. She lectured in law at Auckland and Waikato Universities for fourteen years before taking up a position in 2001 at the iwi-founded tertiary education institution, Te Wānanga o Raukawa. Its programmes seek to contribute to Māori survival through language revitalisation, and through the revival and adaptation of traditional knowledge to meet contemporary challenges. Ani was responsible for the Ahunga Tikanga (Māori Laws and Philosophy) programme from 2003-2009 and, since 2010, she has been co-director of Te Kāhui Whakatupu Mātauranga. In this role she has the responsibility of promoting the recovery and expansion of the body of knowledge that has been bequeathed to Māori by earlier generations.
In 2016 she was awarded Te Kāurutanga, a degree conferred by the founding iwi of Te Wānanga o Raukawa (Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira). Her thesis, entitled Like Moths to the Flame? A History of Ngāti Raukawa Resistance and Recovery, investigates the impact of colonisation on Ngāti Raukawa thought and was published in 2017. Other publications include He Rukuruku Whakaaro: Colonising Myths, Māori Realities (2011) and The Balance Destroyed (2017).
Science Reporter, The New Zealand Herald
Jamie has been covering science and environmental issues for the Herald for six years. His work on climate change issues has taken him to Paris twice - first for the COP21 summit in 2015 and later to report on the city’s sustainability efforts - and to Antarctica.
Based in Taranaki, Jamie has won several national journalism awards and also covers topics ranging from technology and innovation to medicine and conservation.
"It would be helpful for people to have an insight into how the media approaches climate change."
Dr Tim Naish
Director of the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington
Tim Naish is a Professor in Earth Sciences and has been Director of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, since 2008. Before that, he gained his PhD at Waikato University in 1996, did post-doctoral research at James Cook University, Australia, and worked at GNS Science. His research focuses on past, present and future climate change, its influence on Antarctica and influence on global sea-level. He has participated in 14 expeditions to Antarctica and helped found ANDRILL, an international Antarctic Geological Drilling Program. Tim and his team at the Antarctic Research Centre are committed to communication of Antarctic and climate change science and its societal relevance. He was recently appointed to the Australian Government’s National Advisory Committee on Climate Change Science. He was Lead Author on the Intergovernmental panel on Climate change 5th Assessment Report, and attended the scoping meeting of 1.5C special report in Geneva last year, requested by island nations under the Paris Climate Agreement. He will talk about what sea-level means for Pacific Island nations, and the importance of the Paris Agreement.
“Sea-level rise is the clearest global consequence of anthropogenic climate change. The 20cm of sea-level rise since the industrial revolution is predicted to continue and to be as much 1m by the end of the century without mitigation. While Pacific Island nations contributed only a small amount of the greenhouse gases, they are in the front of the line when it comes to climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise. The latest science says that limiting global warming to less than 2°C, the target of the Paris Agreement” may prevent the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets from major melt down, and vastly reduce the risks for Pacific Island nations, including New Zealand. I want to share this story.”
Rod Oram has 40 years’ experience as an international business journalist. He has worked for various publications in Europe and North America, including the Financial Times of London.
He contributes weekly to Nine to Noon, Newsroom.co.nz and Newstalk ZB. He is a frequent public speaker on deep sustainability, business, economics, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, in both NZ and global contexts.
For more than a decade, Rod has been helping fast-growing New Zealand companies through his involvement with The ICEHOUSE, the entrepreneurship centre at the University of Auckland’s Business School.
Penguin published in 2007 his book on the New Zealand economy, Reinventing Paradise. He was named the Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year for 2009.
Rod was a founding trustee and the second chairman of Akina Foundation, which helps social enterprises develop their business models in areas of sustainability. He remains actively involved with the foundation and the ventures it supports.
Rod is an adjunct professor at AUT; and Bridget Williams Books has published his latest book, Three Cities: Seeking Hope in the Anthropocene, details at bwb.co.nz/books/three-cities
Rod is in the inaugural cohort of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship, www.ehf.org. This bold programme brings together innovators and investors from here and abroad to help foster global change from Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Dr Heidi Thomson
Professor, Victoria University of Wellington
Originally from Belgium, Dr Heidi Thomson was educated at Ghent University and at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). She teaches Romantic literature at Victoria University of Wellington. Most recently, her book Coleridge and the Romantic Newspaper: The Morning Post and the Road to Dejection (Palgrave UK) was published in 2016. Her research interests include contextual poetics, biography, and the role of literature and the humanities in society.
"I accepted the invitation to present at ‘Pacific Climate Change 2018’ because climate change forces us to question what it means to be human. It compels us to consider what the role of the arts is to understand what we are doing on and with this planet. Mary Shelley already responded to those questions very cogently, when she wrote Frankenstein in 1816, the so-called ‘Year without a Summer’. My lecture explores how Frankenstein tests our expressions of hubris and our ideas of monstrosity."
Sarah Lorraine Thomson
Sarah works as a graduate lawyer in Auckland and studied at the University of Waikato. In 2015, with the help of local law firm LeeSalmonLong, Sarah filed judicial review proceedings challenging the New Zealand government's inadequate climate change targets.
Sarah is asking the High Court to review the government's decision to set New Zealand's emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement at 11% below 1990 levels by 2030. She also seeks review of the government's failure to revise the 2050 target and set it in accordance with current climate science. The hearing was in June this year, with the final judgment still to be released.