The Barbara Ward Lectures

07 September 2014

The Barbara Ward Lecture series celebrates IIED's founder, Barbara Ward, a distinguished economist, journalist, and policy advisor who was among the earliest advocates of sustainable development.

Dr Debra Roberts delivered the 2016 Barbara Ward Lecture (Image: IIED)

Barbara Ward was a renowned speaker whose lectures influenced audiences around the world. In honour of her pioneering work in sustainable development and the inspiration she gave to many in the field, IIED organises lectures by the current generation of outstanding women in development.

The 2018 Barbara Ward Lecture will be delivered by Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first woman Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization, in the summer. Further details will be announced when available.


The 2016 Barbara Ward Lecture was delivered on 11 October 2016 by Debra Roberts, head of the Sustainable City Initiatives portfolio in eThekwini Municipality, Durban, South Africa. Roberts has gained worldwide recognition for spearheading work on how the world’s urban spaces can tackle the risks of climate change.

IIED’s Barbara Ward lecture series celebrates our founder, Barbara Ward. I am both proud and pleased to honour her legacy and celebrate outstanding women in development.

– Andrew Norton, IIED director

Previous speakers have included former Ireland President Mary Robinson Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action; South Africa MP Lindiwe Sisulu, Cristiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Fatima Denton, director of the special initiatives division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).


Dr Debra Roberts 2016

Fatima Denton, 2014 Barbara Ward lecture

Christiana Figueres (Photo: UNclimatechange)

Connie Hedegaard (Photo: Magnus Fröderberg)

Lindiwe Sisulu (Photo: GCIS)

Mary Robinson (Photo: Neil Palmer, CIAT)