Ben Rawlence Keynote Speaker

  • Author of "The Tree Line" - a book that charts the impact of climate change on the environment
  • Founder and CEO of Black Mountains College - preparing people for an adapted world
  • Former speech writer for Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell

Ben Rawlence's Biography

Ben Rawlence is an award winning writer, activist and founder/CEO of Black Mountains College in the UK.  He has published three books.

In his most recent book ‘Treeline –the last forest and the future of life on earth” (2022), he lays out how climate change is transforming the northern hemisphere and what that means for our societies and economies.  ‘The Treeline‘ was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize and has won a National Academies Prize for Science Writing.

Previous books include Radio Congo: Signals of Hope From Africa’s Deadliest War (2012) – a book about conflict in Africa and City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp (2016) – this work explores the big global issues about the refugee crisis and its links to climate change

From 2006 to 2013 he was a researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Africa division. Rawlence has also written for The New York Times, The Guardian and London Review of Books.  Earlier in his career, he was speech writer for Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy.

Ben has also written for the Guardian, London Review of Books, New York TimesNew York Times Book Review, New Yorker and many other publications.

He lives Wales where he is the founding director and CEO of Black Mountains College, an innovative educational facility devoted to creative and adaptive thinking in the face of the climate and ecological emergency.  Called the first ever Climate Change university, this college offers a range of courses and programmes aimed to support both young people and experienced staff with the ways and means to live in this changing world.  In Autumn 2023, they will begin a BA in Sustainable Futures.

He has BA in Swahili and History from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and an MA in international relations from the University of Chicago. 

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Ben Rawlence's Speaking Topics

The coming storm: lessons in adaptation where climate change is already history.

We know that the world is changing but what to do in the face of disruption is less clear. Drawing on his knowledge of the latest science and up close personal view of the massive earth system changes underway, Ben speaks with clarity and passion on what this new era means for individuals, communities, businesses and institutions. He has a provocation for how to rebuild our broken relationship with the forests, and the world, that sustains us.

Leading in a time of Climate Crisis

Leading a group of staff today is not just about the work. Employees are increasingly selective about where they work and will be influenced by the efforts firms make to strive for net zero and to create a work culture and environment that respects sustainability. Ben does not have all the answers but as the founder of a new experimental liberal arts college devoted to climate change, he has wrestled with this question and can share his insights about what firms can do to make themselves more aligned to the expectations of the changing labour market.

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Articles, Media & Podcasts

Books by Ben Rawlence

The Tree Line -The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth
City of Thorns -Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp

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