Monday, 12 June 2023

Hay Festival – Planet Assembly and more

There was a new initiative at Hay Festival this year called Planet Assembly. I reported on all nine sessions and compiled a daily bulletin.

Each Assembly was devoted to a different topic – for example, Energy, Food, Transport, Biodiversity etc. We’d hear from an expert witness (or witnesses) and then break out into groups to address the problems shared. The challenge was always: how we can move from where we are to where we need to be?

My final bulletin offers a summary of the ethos of the whole thing. My main takeaway?

We need urgent, radical action in every area of society. The good news is that many of the actions that we must take to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown will also help to restore biodiversity, make us feel more connected to our communities and less lonely, make life more affordable, and improve our health and wellbeing.

In addition to reporting on Planet Assembly, I also worked with Friends of the Upper Wye to programme a pop-up event discussing the plight of the river. We brought together an eclectic collection of twelve speakers, comprising journalists, lawyers, farmers, campaigners, poets and swimmers, to explain the crisis and advocate for solutions.

I also had the pleasure of chairing a fascinating discussion about the Battle for Britain’s Rivers, which is now available to watch on Hay Player.

The Festival coincided with Natural England downgrading the River Wye’s official status from ‘Unfavourable, Recovering’ to ‘Unfavourable, Declining’. Channel 4 News asked me for my reaction.