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Judith Rees becomes first female president of Royal Geographical Society

Professor Judith Rees CBE was today elected as President of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the first woman to take on this role in the society’s history.

At the Society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) yesterday (11 June 2012) Professor Rees was elected unopposed to the position for its three year term. She takes over as the Society’s figurehead and chair of its elected trustees from Michael Palin CBE.

Professor Judith ReesA distinguished academic geographer by background, Professor Rees is currently Director of the London School of Economics (LSE). She also acts as Director for both its ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (hosted jointly with the University of Leeds) and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

Professor Rees has been involved in advising international organisations, government departments and NGO’s, including the World Bank, UNDP and the EC/Rio Group, CPRE and Friends of the Earth, on a range of water and environment related topics. She was a member of the Technical Committee of the Global Water Partnership for some 13 years and is currently a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation.

Dr Rita Gardner, Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Director, said:
“We are delighted that Judith will be the Society’s first ever female President and we are looking forward to her working with everyone to lead the Society into its next stage of development.”

Commenting on her appointment Professor Rees, said:
“To be asked to take over the Presidency of such an internationally acclaimed and respected body is an enormous honour and I am only too aware of the distinguished figures whose boots I will have to try and fill.”

Michael Palin will remain in the official role of immediate past president and as such will continue to be involved with the Society and its work.



The Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830, our Royal Charter of 1859 is for 'the advancement of geographical science'. Today, it delivers this objective by developing, supporting and promoting geography through research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, and public engagement, while also providing geographical input to policy. 

12 June 2012