BRIC Conference in Plymouth – introducing our host, keynote speakers and experts

Our ‘Social Innovation for Climate Resilience Conference’ is a rare opportunity to hear expert speakers from our BRIC pilot sites.

The full programme of speakers has been confirmed for our Building Resilience in Communities (BRIC) Conference at Crowne Plaza Plymouth on Wednesday 15 March 2023.

The conference is just a couple of weeks away but you can still register your free place on our Eventbrite page here.

Our ‘Social Innovation for Climate Resilience Conference’ is a rare opportunity to hear expert speakers from our BRIC pilot sites and aims to explore the role of social innovation in response to flooding and climate change.

The event is aimed at:

  • Flood risk management authorities
  • Water companies
  • Environment Agency
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFA)
  • Local councillors, politicians
  • People and organisations interested in flooding and climate resilience, and local communities at risk of flooding.

The full programme

As well as discussing flood risk and the BRIC project’s work in local communities, we’ll also be learning more about the cross-border collaboration that has resulted in the creation of a social innovation resilience model developed over the last two years.

This includes:

  • The public launch of the BRIC Resilience Network Web Platform
  • Innovative engagement methods and activities
  • Awareness-raising technology

Event host

Our host for the day is former BBC Spotlight presenter Justin Leigh, a TV and radio broadcaster and journalist with more than 30 years’ experience of live news and current affairs, audience debate programmes and high-profile interviews with leading politicians, royalty and key decision makers.

During that time, Justin has interviewed thousands of people from all walks of life including Royalty, Prime Ministers and leading figures from local politics and business.

Justin has broadcast live from some of the biggest events in the region such as the Dawlish rail line collapse, the grounding of the Napoli container ship in East Devon and the devastating flood which swept through the Cornish village of Boscastle. He has also reported from around the world including South Africa, the Arctic Circle, France and Belgium.

A highly skilled presenter, Justin has also hosted complex general election debates and special programmes on the effect of Brexit and the 2008 economic crash.

Born and brought up in Cornwall, Justin is passionate about the region and the issues affecting everyone who lives here. Since stepping down from his BBC role in 2020, Justin spent some time teaching the next generation of journalists at Plymouth Marjon University. He is also a freelance broadcaster and media trainer and contributes a fortnightly column to the Cornish Times and Cornish & Devon Post Newspapers.

An accomplished conference and events host, Justin will introduce our speaker line-up throughout the day.

Event speakers

Justin will give an introduction, before we’ll enjoy a warm welcome to Plymouth in the Lord Mayor’s address.

Liza Oxford, BRIC Project Lead at Plymouth City Council, will also welcome guests and give a brief project overview. Our expert speakers from the UK and France on the day include: 

  • Liza Oxford and Sarah Durbridge from Plymouth City Council, who will discuss Appreciative Inquiry (AI) as a model for initial engagement, diagnostic and behaviour change.
  • Celine Fontaine from the CPIE, who will discuss various one-off interventions the organisation has carried out with the inhabitants of the territory and will then focus on the benefits of a month-long highlight, the Festival of Resilience.
  • David Jordan from the National Flood Forum (NFF), who will discuss working with Flood Action Groups, as well as the community-led mapping pilot to map local flood risk assets, issues and concerns.
  • Imane Fedaili from Oise-les-Vallées, who will discuss two awareness-raising activities: awareness-raising workshops for schoolchildren from CE2-CM2 level and an educational walk for the elderly.
  • Dan Williams from the Dorset Coastal Forum (DCF), who will discuss the creation of the local guide to flood resilience covering the design process, the benefits and challenges of co-production, and the lessons learnt.
  • Celine Penherin from Cerema, who will discuss the co-construction of federative events around the river Aulne, culminating in a festive weekend around the Aulne river and its issues.
  • Michael O’Neill from Thames21.
  • Aileen Robert and her team from Ogoxe, who will discuss the public launch of the Resilience Networks via the BRIC Web Platform.

Keynote speakers

After a free buffet lunch, we will hear from our keynote speakers, starting with well-known urban ecologist and wildlife consultant Dusty Gedge.

A TV presenter and recognised speaker at conferences and events around the world, Dusty is President of the European Federation of Green Roofs and Wall Associations, and founder of, which promotes green roofs and living walls in urban areas in the UK and around the world.

Though he has a particular interest in biodiversity and urban nature, Dusty’s work in the built environment also focuses on climate resilience and the promotion of greener cities through multifunctional green infrastructure.

Our first keynote speaker from France is Samuel Rufat, from the Institut Universitaire de France and Université de Cergy-Pontoise.

Samuel is an expert for the European Commission on resilience and social vulnerability in the Community for European Research and Innovation for Security (CERIS).

We will then hear from Hannah Baker, the Programme Manager for Communities Prepared, a national community resilience programme led by the community charity Groundwork South.

After giving an overview of Communities Prepared’s work and approach, Hannah will provide examples of where and how the team has been working to date, what they have learned so far and how they are applying this to future plans.

Our final keynote speaker is Ghislaine Verrheist-Leblanc, Risk management expert / Director General of AFPCNT / Dynamism and creativity to co-build a more resilient future in the face of major risks.

Ghislaine will talk about the actions led by AFPCNT to create “National Resilience Day”. This is a key date for the prevention of natural and technological risks and the result of AFPNCT’s projects about how to involve all stakeholders and people. She will also give a personal reflection about the link between social and resilience.

Simultaneous French and English translations will be available throughout the Conference, and you can also join us online via our live stream (details to follow).

Find out more and register your free place here.

BRIC (Building Resilience in Communities) is funded by Interreg VA France (Channel) England

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *