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Peter Greste, Tim Flannery lead Womad talks program


Foreign correspondent Peter Greste will be one of the key speakers at WOMADelaide’s Planet Talks sessions next year, examining the current state of press freedom and its effect on democracy around the world.

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Released today, the full program of talks tackling political, social and environmental issues also includes environmentalist Tim Flannery, TV host and comedian Rove McManus, human rights lawyer Julian Burnside, Marshall Islands poet and climate change activist Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, technologist Genevieve Bell and social justice advocate Tim Costello.

Planet Talks – which has become a popular feature of the annual world music festival in Botanic Park – will open on March 10 with a feature talk by Flannery and close on March 12 with a talk by Greste, who will also take part in a conversation with Guardian correspondent Ben Doherty.

Greste, who has covered conflicts in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia as a reporter for Reuters, the BBC and Al Jazeera, spent 400 days in a Cairo prison in 2013 after being charged alongside two Al Jazeera colleagues with threatening national security.

He has since become a fervent campaigner for freedom of the press and in October published a new book, The First Casualty, which argues that the “war on journalism” has now spread to western countries – including Australia.

WOMADelaide director Ian Scobie says the Planet Talks seek to provide “a civilised forum for informed discussion and debate about many of the key issues which confront humanity”.

“This year’s extraordinarily diverse array of panels and topics will haven the opportunity to listen, think, engage and, at the conclusion of the event we hope, feel informed and positive about our future.”

Discussions will range over topics such as artificial intelligence, the human face of climate change, the threat posed by “plastic pollution”, and the real cost of “fast fashion”.

McManus, who is vice-president of Flora and Fauna International, will join New York Times environment writer Jim Robbins and Flinders University professor of animal behavior Sonia Kleindorfer for a session titled The Wonder of Birds, promising insight into the lives of birds and how they have shaped human life and our understanding of the world.

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