On 28 April, Dr James Martin gave the 13th Annual Commonwealth Lecture at the Royal Institution to an audience of nearly 300 guests and 1,000's of online participants across the world. The video of Dr James Martin's Commonwealth Lecture, which was broadcast live via the internet, is still available online. Dr Martin's lecture was entitled, "Science and Technology: Impacts on society in the 21st century".
Dr Martin argued that, although "massive problems" - from climate change to terrorism - are on the world's doorstep, there are also "massive opportunities" for dealing with, and overcoming, these challenges. He presented the audience with a wide array of some of the worst possibilities to come in our future – from bioterrorism to widespread drought, from the collapse of ecosystems to the devastating levels of poverty in large swathes of the global population. He also explained that the extent and complexity of challenges ahead, combined with his unwavering belief that the solutions for combating them are within humanity’s grasp, are what led to his founding of the James Martin 21st Century School at Oxford University. It is the School's aim to bring together some of the best minds across different areas of expertise to address global challenges through creative and collaborative academic research.
Dr Martin’s lecture was the 13th in a series of annual lectures organised by the Commonwealth Foundation, and the first to take on the topic of science and technology as key drivers for the Commonwealth’s future. A major role for the Commonwealth, he said, would be to embrace technology and create "the best quality web teaching on critical science." Previous speakers at the Commonwealth Lecture include Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and Terry Waite, former special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury.