Events list – World in Focus

Opening session: Are cities going to rule the world?

Predictions indicate that the future of the world is going to be shaped in cities. Today, the pace of social, political and technological changes have made cities the engines of development. They are the first to redefine their functions and responsibilities towards the environment by building long-term, transnational strategies within numerous international networks. They are the place where conflicting visions of development emerge as we have recently seen at the G20 summit in Hamburg. Sometimes they take over the tasks of the state, as was the case after the US announced its withdrawal from the climate change agreement. Will cities cope with growing social disparities and challenges? We invite you to discuss these issues with hosts of three cities – Warsaw, Słupsk and Hamburg. These cities vary in size, geographical location or economic resources, but all have the same end goal – to ensure the best possible living conditions for their citizens and their growth & development.

 

Film screening: The Tipping Point. Energy aNew. directed by Łukasz Błuszcz

13.10 - Conference Room A 19:00 − 20:30

The first Polish documentary on climate change and the inevitable energy revolution. Is there a future based solely on coal and oil? Can we handle the ever growing smog and air pollution? What must happen so that there is no ultimate tragedy that will bring the world to an end? The response to these and many other intriguing questions is sought by actor Marcin Dorociński.

The whole world is facing the terrifying vision of floods, droughts, lack of drinking water and food. Warm radiators on cooler days, ice cream during the summer times, electricity or water in the tap and not to mention fuel for the car – we do not want to give these conveniences up, but we will, sooner rather than later, have to produce energy in a more sustainable manner. Director Łukasz Błuszcz pays close attention to the issue of alternative energy sources and the problems that its supporters incur. The film warns of the forthcoming catastrophe and proposes measures to help stop it.

 

Plenary session: New global order

The new global order is taking shape before our own eyes. The US is gradually retreating from its role as the liberal hegemonic power with the European Union trying to fill the resulting void and prop up the liberal order that dates back to 1945. Seeing this, China eyes a chance to bolster its global role, while Russia continues to contest the rules, it claims, were imposed by the West after the fall of the USSR. Meanwhile, other players, such as Japan and India, seek new avenues for growth and try to respond to new challenges. In this panel we ask which trends in the transforming global order require our attention. Where do threats and opportunities lie? Will the global system of free trade survive and how will that impact us? How should Europe act? Which international actors matter and who can surprise us?

 

Debate: Europe facing challenges: populism, Brexit and the changing balance of power in Europe

14.10 – Conference Room A 10:00 − 11:15 Marek PrawdaSusi Dennisonprof. Jan Zielonka Maciej Zakrocki

Session language: English Symultanic translation: Yes

The past year has been a period of significant changes in Europe. The UK decided to leave the EU and elections in subsequent countries were proof of the growing wave of populism and nationalism. The unresolved migration crisis has caused a number of tensions between Member States. Exhausted by various crises, Europe was losing momentum. The election results in the Netherlands and France were therefore received with great relief and enthusiasm. In particular, the latter seems to have symbolic significance for Europe – many hope that the emergence of a new leader, will bring about the much needed revival of the European spirit. The French-German duo is returning to the field and concrete steps towards EU reform are expected after the Bundestag elections. Has Europe matured enough to step into the next stage of integration? Is Brexit an accident at work or a precedent that can inspire other countries? Is a multi-speed Europe a chance or an exclusion for Poland and others in our region?

 

Debate: Grassroots for democracy – Urban movements in Central Eastern Europe

Session language: English Symultanic translation: Yes

Cities can to a certain extent be called laboratories of democracy. The construction and development of communities and common areas requires constant dialogue and compromise. Cities are the place where the interests and needs of different groups collide, where political battles are fought on both the local and national scale. How do citizens of cities in transformational regions learn to actively take part in the decision-making processes? How do they learn to take matters into their own hands? What topics and themes are of interest to them?

During the debate, we will discuss the role of urban movements in the democratic process of societies that once belonged to the socialist bloc. We will look at this intriguing topic from a theoretical point of view but also take into account a practical perspective, presented to us by practitioners who, on a daily basis, try to stimulate citizens to take action and actively influence urban policies in their cities.

 

Debate: Digitally green – new technologies in environmentally friendly cities

Session language: Polish

Clean, comfortable, environmentally friendly and functional – this is what a dream city sounds like to many of us. Fresh air, lots of open green areas, not too much traffic, clever urban planning and the availability of different services contribute to our comfort and quality of life in a city. Having in mind the ever growing number of people in limited spaces and increasing air pollution in urban settlements, making this dream a reality is not easy. Can the current dynamic development of new technologies provide support for local governments and residents? Are simple solutions on our phones a good solution for everyone? How can we plan cities to combine and bring together the often divergent expectations of different social and age groups, not forgetting about the well being of the environment?

 

The boundaries of solidarity: Festung Europa and the Great Migration

14.10 – Conference Room A 11:30 − 12:45 Michał SutowskiJuliana KerrSusi DennisonAnna Rostocka

Session language: English Symultanic translation: Yes

Soon after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the first Syrian refugees arrived in Italy and Greece on makeshift boats. By some, this was seen as the spark of an unprecedented wave of migration and as a result, Europe and beyond was faced with the highest influx of refugees and economic migrants since World War 2. The consequences of this and the decisions that followed are still highly relevant today as solutions have thus far proven to be unsuccessful in the long term, with limited positive effects in the short term. Is Europe forced to receive large waves of migrants? Or perhaps the residents of the periphery, seeking security and prosperity, were forced by the climate, war and economic exploitation to leave their homes? Will the walls, barbed wires and boats of border guards allow Europe to turn away from the world’s problems? Experts and professionals from Europe and beyond, of different institutional backgrounds, with varying perspectives and takes on the issue will seek to answer these and many other questions during our debate.

 

Lunch break

14.10 Foyer 12:45 − 13:45

 

Debate: War for the cities, war in the cities

Session language: English Symultanic translation: Yes

In contemporary military conflicts, cities continue to be battlegrounds. Their inhabitants frequently become combatants, but they are primarily the victims and hostages of ongoing hostilities. The names of some of these cities: Sarajevo, Grozny, Donetsk, Aleppo, Mosul – but also Warsaw – become symbols of the brutality of war. Recently, a number of cities located away from war zones, including Western European ones, became battlegrounds of sorts for the terrorist atrocities. The panel discussion will touch upon the following questions: Have the global urbanization processes and progress of technology made the situation worse in terms of targeting civilians and city infrastructure? What is the impact of the terrorist attacks on modern cities? What should be the rules according to the humanitarian law, and what is the reality? How should the international actors react when cities turn into battlegrounds? What does solidarity mean in practice?

 

Debate: A curse or a hidden blessing? Urbanization in Sub Saharan Africa

Session language: English Symultanic translation: Yes

Africa has the highest urbanisation rate in the world and African cities are rapidly swelling beyond their absorption capacity. It is estimated that by 2040 the continent’s cities will have to accommodate 79 million additional inhabitants; more than half of Africans are expected to live in cities by 2050. It is therefore imperative to grasp consequences of this process and see why this presents an enormous challenge for African governments. If managed properly the cities may end up being an important driving force of development but if African political elites miss this opportunity, expanding cities may eventually overwhelm them and become a huge social and political burden. Participants of this panel intend to discuss urbanisation in Africa and the exponential growth of African cities, with emphasis on how African urban spaces may become a catalyst for or a drag on growth and development.

 

Plenary session: What kind of Poland in what kind of Europe?

Session language: Polish Symultanic translation: Yes

After the initial shock of Brexit, “the wind is back in Europe’s sails” as the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has recently stated. There are now new proposals on the table regarding changes in the functioning of the EU, aimed at streamlining its operation, restoring credibility and finding answers to global challenges. Each scenario carries both benefits and threats for specific processes, regions or individual states. Which scenario does Poland desire and what reforms does it propose? Which of the proposals currently discussed would be beneficial for Poland and Poles? Where can one find allies and how can one convince partners with conflicting visions? Answers to these questions will be provided by representatives from different areas, who will look at the problem from various perspectives drawing on their academic expertise and professional background.

 
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