President of Iceland visits University of Leeds for rewilding conference

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the current President of Iceland, gave the keynote speech at 'The Future of Wild Europe' conference at the University of Leeds this September.

The five-day conference was co-organised by the School of Earth and Environment and the School of English, and explored questions around 'rewilding' – or returning land to its pre-inhabited state – and its relationship with human activity.

President Jóhannesson's keynote speech focused on the past and future of wild Iceland, explaining how the land has been impacted by roughly 1,000 years of human habitation, and how the country has dealt with pressure to develop its untouched wildernesses. Whilst in Leeds, he was given a tour of the University Library's extensive Icelandic Collection and met with several of the University's renowned vulcanologists.

Also speaking at the conference was filmmaker and explorer Céline Cousteau, granddaughter of marine conservation pioneer Jacques Cousteau. She spoke about her years of mapping the world through oceanography and raising awareness of the fragility of underwater ecosystems, and offered her thoughts on how humanity can protect, preserve and celebrate marine life.

The conference was organised in conjunction with ENHANCE – an EU-funded international doctoral programme involving five partners from the UK, Sweden, and Germany.

For more information about the conference visit the programme website.