Overline: “Justice in Sustainability” Workshop
Headline: Rethinking Freedom, Justice and Democracy in an Age of Climate Change

On the eve of the 28th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Dubai, against the background of record-breaking heat, extreme weather events and their associated socio-economic impacts, this workshop explores how principles of freedom, justice and democracy are shaping (or are failing to shape) climate policy and governance, and how ever-advancing climate change is forcing governments and citizens to reconsider how they uphold these principles and values. In the German context, the Federal Constitutional Court decided in a 2021 landmark ruling that climate change endangers the freedoms of future generations, and therefore needs to be addressed with more ambitious climate law and policy today. Yet concrete climate policy proposals can and often do collide with citizens’ demands for their individual, present-day freedoms – as in the case of the German heating law and proposals for speed limits on highways. We also witness an increase in climate activism - in the German context most vividly expressed by the Letzte Generation protests.

A general overarching question that arises in the foregoing context is: What does this collectively imply for freedom, justice and democracy in relation to the broader public, particularly vulnerable sectors of society, non-humans and future generations? More specifically: In what ways do our democratic practices and institutions need to evolve to confront the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change? What are appropriate and effective responses to the rise of possible left and right-wing populism and the threats it poses to both democracy and climate action? What needs to be achieved at the global level to support freedom and justice for poorer nations who bear the brunt of climate impacts? How are courts and other governance actors, in Germany and elsewhere, stepping up to protect fundamental rights, freedoms and democratic values that are impacted by climate change?

We invite you to join us in a lively dialogue on some of the big ideas needed to confront the big challenges of our time that will be led by an invited group of leading voices in climate law, policy and governance. Confirmed speakers include: Tabea Lissner (Global Solutions Initiative/Climate Analytics); Shota Gelovani (Mannheim University); Sander Chan (Radboud University); Carole-Anne Sénit (Utrecht University); Tobias Müller (The New Institute); Kathleen Mar (Research Institute for Sustainability Helmholtz Centre Potsdam); Bernardo Jurema (Research Institute for Sustainability Helmholtz Centre Potsdam); Louis Kotzé (Research Institute for Sustainability Helmholtz Centre Potsdam).

Format: In person

Venue: WIS Bildungsforum, Am Kanal 47, 14467 Potsdam

Background information: RIFS focal topic year 2023 “Justice in Sustainability” | “Justice in Sustainability” Lecture Series 2023

Registration: There is limited capacity for 30 participants and registrations will be on come, first served basis. Please register here by Friday 17 November. Refreshments and a light lunch will be served.