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How the Battle for Minerals Will Shape Our Future Ed Conway

Festival of Economics

Watershed  |  £5 – £10

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The battle for sand, iron, salt, oil, copper and lithium will dictate the balance of global power in the coming century. Ed Conway looks at the history of human civilisation and how the fight to control these minerals will shape our future.

The struggle for these six minerals has plagued civilisations and fed greed for thousands of years. But it’s getting worse. Ed Conway outlines how our ambitions, glory, innovations and appetites have been shaped by the ground beneath our feet – and the minerals it holds. 

We are constantly hearing about the impact of burning fossil fuels, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. For every tonne of fossil fuels we consume, we extract six tonnes of other materials, from sand and stone to wood and metal. These materials power our homes and our technology. The modern world simply wouldn’t exist without them. 

Buy Ed Conway’s Material World: A Substantial Story of Our Past and Future now from

Ed Conway is the Economics and Data Editor of Sky News, and has been a regular columnist for The Times and The Sunday Times.

Anu Anand is a BBC World Service presenter with 22 years experience in international news and current affairs. She was based in New Delhi for eight years covering the country’s epic economic and social changes.

The Festival of Economics is supported by

Pay What You Feel

This event is part of our new ticket pricing structure where we ask people to pay what they feel they can afford in accordance with their means. Read more about it here. Read on for the ticket prices for this event.

One free carer ticket can be booked at the same time for a paying disabled visitor. If you need to book more than one, please contact us before booking to arrange.

Pay It Forward

The Pay It Forward option enables you to book a ticket above the standard price, and will help to subsidise a ticket for someone who requires the Pay What You Can option. This option is aimed at people who are able to meet their basic needs and would like to help somebody else with the cost of their ticket.

  • Is this for me? – I have access to a regular and stable income and I have the means and desire to contribute towards making the event affordable for others and supporting Bristol Ideas.


This recommended price is based on what we’d traditionally charge for a similar event. It helps us make sure that basic costs are covered. This price is aimed at people who are able to meet their basic needs and have enough to live on.

  • Is this for me? – I have access to a regular and disposable income, and I can comfortably afford the recommended ticket price.


This option is lower than the recommended price. It is subsidised by Bristol Ideas and fellow audience members who have booked at the Pay It Forward rate. This price is aimed at people who could do with support to get by.

  • Is this for me? – My access to income is low and unstable and I worry about meeting my basic needs. I would select a concession rate due to my personal circumstances.

No one will be turned away due to lack of funds, so please contact us if you have any queries.

Booking Information

Ticket booking is via Eventbrite. Please review Eventbrite’s terms and conditions and Privacy Policy as Bristol Ideas do not accept any responsibility or liability for the policies. You can read Bristol Ideas’ Privacy policy here.

Please note we only refund tickets if the event is cancelled. Events start punctually and, out of consideration to other audience members and speakers, our policy is not to admit or issue refunds to latecomers. Full Terms and Conditions here.


  • Watershed’s main entrance and Box Office are both on the ground floor which is accessible via a ramped, electronically assisted entrance door.
  • There are two Blue Badge parking spaces to the rear of Watershed on Canons Road.
  • Guide dogs and hearing dogs are very welcome.
  • The first floor of Watershed is accessible via lift from the main entrance and includes level access to all areas, including the cinemas and event spaces.
  • The cinemas and event spaces have induction loops.
  • There is an accessible toilet (with baby changing facilities) near Cinema 1. Follow the signs for the Cinemas and the accessible toilet is just on your left through the double doors before Cinema 1.
  • There are gender neutral toilets in the cinema corridor on the first floor.

Visit Watershed’s Access page for more information.

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