Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Warwick Economics Summit 2020 Report

The 19th edition of Europe's largest student-run academic summit brought together 500+ participants of over 50 nationalities and 34 universities under the common goal to ‘join the debate’ with 24 top economists, policymakers, social activists, political leaders and researchers.

Over the weekend of 31 January-2 February, internal and external delegates got to experience three days of talks, panel debates, exclusive Meet-The-Speaker events, wine receptions, seminars, networking sessions, a food market and the glamorous Moonshine Ball. In the spirit of ushering a new decade, Warwick Economics Summit (WES) 2020 aimed to improve the delegate experience by making the talks more interactive and engaging, hosting more panels and live interviews.


WES 2020 had the pleasure to bring some of the most influential figures and experts in a diverse range of topics to Warwick. The speakers this year were:

  • Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to be awarded the honour. Dr. Ebadi is a political activist and human rights lawyer, also Founder of the Defenders of Humans Center, taking up pro bono cases of dissident figures mistreated by the judiciary
  • Atifete Jahjaga, President of the Republic of Kosovo in 2011 – 2016 and the first female head of state in the modern Balkans. President Jahjaga also established the Jahjaga Foundation, an initiative that focuses on youth and women empowerment towards achieving social change in Kosovo
  • Zanny Minton Beddoes, the Editor in Chief of The Economist since February 2015. She is considered to be one of the most influential people in financial journalism as Editor in Chief of a weekly newspaper that reaches approximately 1.5 million readers.
  • Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Former Defence Secretary and Foreign Secretary of the UK and Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.
  • Avinash Dixit, John J. F. Sherrerd ’52 University Professor of Economics at Princeton and one of the most significant economists of his generation.
  • Sharon Donnery, Deputy Governor of the Irish Central Bank with vast experience in central banking on a both national and international stage.
  • Jennifer Smith, Associate Professor of Economics at Warwick University and Member of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
  • Carlo Cottarelli, Director of the Observatory on the Italian Public Accounts and Former Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund.
  • Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  • Giampaolo Di Paola, Former Defence Minister of Italy and the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.
  • Don Johnston, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) from 1996 to 2006.
  • Marta Santamaria, Assistant Professor of Economics at Warwick University, contributing with diverse and innovative research to the field of macroeconomics of development.
Panel Debates

Panel discussions were another key element of the WES 2020 agenda, and one panel was organised in each of the three days of the Summit.

On Friday, the very same day that the UK officially ceased to be a member of the European Union, WES co-hosted a panel with the European Parliament. The panel focused on the future of Britain’s relationship with the European Union. The panellists were: Joe Lynam (journalist and broadcaster, currently presenting Newsroom on the BBC World Service), Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell (economist, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank), Molly Scott Cato (economist, Member of the European Parliament, writer and campaigner for green politics) Brando Benifei (Member of the European Parliament, leader of the Democratic Party delegation), Malcolm Harbour (Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands), Chris Leslie (former Member of Parliament and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2015).

During the Welfare Panel on Saturday the panellists offered a diverse range of analysis, touching both on the moral and economic implications of welfare provision. The panel was formed of: Matthew Lesh (Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute), Bina Agarwal (Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester), Sir Julian Le Grand (Professor of Social Policy at the LSE), Professor Iain Begg (Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE’s European Institute), Brando Benifei (Member of the European Parliament, leader of the Democratic Party delegation).

On Sunday WES hosted the Middle East Panel which discussed politics, religion and conflict in the region. The panellists were Paul Wood (World Affairs correspondent for the BBC), Walter Armbrust (Fellow and Professor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford), Chris Nineham (British political activist and founder member of the Stop the War Coalition, serving as National Officer and Deputy Chair of the Stop the War Coalition in the UK).

European Parliament Patronage

The 2020 edition of WES was the first one to have been granted the patronage of the European Parliament (EP). The Patronage is a representation of the EP’s support for the Summit, and only a few organisations are awarded it every year. The EP has recognised the Summit’s work to allow “young people […] to take part in exchanges with prominent and influential speakers on topical issues” and supports the Summit as “an excellent medium for political education”. WES and the EP share important values, including youth empowerment through political education and debate, increasing accessibility to such an education and the relevance of building cross-border intellectual ties.

At the same time, it is important to clarify that WES remains a non-partisan organisation, whose agenda is not limited to Europe – as also specified by the EP in its communications with the Summit, and as can be seen from our commitment to bring together a diverse audience and to create a line-up of speakers that represents all countries, sectors and political views as far as possible.

AccessWES - Delegate Grant Scheme

In partnership with Project Access UK, WES 2020 was the first edition to feature AccessWES, a grant scheme through which students could apply for free tickets to the conference. Applicants were assessed and screened by our experienced partner, Project Access UK, a non-profit startup fighting for students to get equal access to the world’s best universities by providing a peer-to-peer mentor network. Successful applicants each received a free ticket which gives access to both the Summit and the annual ball, giving recipients the opportunity to not only engage in the academic side of the conference, but also to expand their network during the event.

Please get in touch and join us for WES 2021

For WES 2021, our 20th edition of WES, we would love to welcome back every prior member of WES to join us once again. It would be amazing to hear from you to see how it all started, and for you to see how far it has come.

Join our "WES Alumni" LinkedIn group where we will be keeping you posted on what's coming up in terms of the Summit and unique Alumni events. You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Introducing the speakers

Angela Kane

Zanny Minton Beddoes (the Editor in Chief of The Economist)

Angela Kane

Shirin Ebadi (2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)