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Patrick Bond and Mithika Mwenda at Climate Futures symposium, Italy, 13-17 July

Purpose and goals
A three-day symposium at Bellagio on “Climate Futures.” is the first phase of our project and will identify innovative social, political, economic, and cultural approaches and proposals for dealing with the crisis of climate change. Our primary objective is to bring climate justice organizations and grassroots activists into conversation with public intellectuals and scholars from across the natural, physical, and social sciences to brainstorm ideas on how to craft action plans that address the root causes and future impacts of climate change around the world. These multi-faceted plans will not only help strengthen local, national, and global initiatives but will also incorporate policies created with grassroots input building on the interconnections among climate justice and social justice, sustainable livelihoods, transparent and participatory governance, and innovative political forms to contribute to the transition to a low-carbon, just future.

The cross-disciplinary conversations at the symposium will also become part of a volume entitled Climate Futures: Re-imagining Global Climate Justice. Co-edited by the four symposium organizers, the book will draw on submissions by the symposium participants and others identified by the group. In addition to more typical scholarly formats, some contributions will take the form of conversations, interviews, and creative works. Both the symposium and the book will be examples of a public engagement arising from the collaboration of the cutting-edge scholarship and practical, grassroots work and knowledge production that we feel is necessary to tackle issues that affect the future of our planet.

The forces at play now that create an opportunity for positive change on the issue
The early twenty-first century has revealed climate change as the most dramatic threat to humanity’s prospects for a dignified future on the planet. In December 2015, the UN will convene in Paris to finalize a global climate treaty. However, the process has been marked by a protracted stalemate, while the agreed two degrees Celsius threshold of warming is jeopardized by current business as usual models and heightened extraction of extreme forms of fossil fuel energy. A rapidly growing global climate justice movement has risen in response, with thousands of organizations interlinked in a vast network of networks. As the UN summit approaches, these movements are striving to persuade governments and global institutions to take decisive steps including, most significantly, signing a fair, scientifically sound, and legally binding global climate treaty. Our symposium is thus particularly timely for policy-makers and climate justice movements seeking to influence the treaty for the better.

Impacts on poor or vulnerable populations
Climate change is already impacting all regions of the world, with droughts, floods, extreme heat waves and storm surges producing crop failures, migration, and economic damage. Climate justice perspectives recognize that the brunt of climate change falls hardest on the poorest and most marginal people everywhere. These gendered inequalities traverse pensioners, urban slum dwellers, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, and rural communities. Cases of climate refugees -- women affected by drought and food shortage that increase their burdens or Inuit populations displaced by eroding shorelines and melting permafrost -- are all too frequent. In addition, small island states, such as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Kiribati in the Pacific, and Cape Verde off the west coast of Africa, face the risk of being drowned or losing their freshwater resources as sea levels rise, posing the devastating prospects of loss of livelihood and homeland for millions of people.

The work at Bellagio

The symposium will bring together nineteen social scientists, atmospheric scientists, journalists, public intellectuals, and activists from the global North and the global South to work collaboratively on new understandings of the economic, social, political and cultural underpinnings of the climate crisis. This synergy will also be designed to generate innovative action plans and solutions. On the first day participants will discuss their previously submitted website proposals and interact in facilitated conversations. On Day 2, we will develop cross-disciplinary perspectives through engaged break-out sessions based on regional and national climate issues. The final day will concentrate on planning scenarios and “green prints” for the future to be presented at the 2015 COP 21, using a variety of dissemination outlets. The plans and scenarios will be catalyzed through a visionary “World Cafe” brainstorming process and facilitated conversations.

One product of the symposium will be a book (in print and e-book formats) entitled Climate Futures: Re-imagining Global Climate Justice. This will emerge from submissions by the symposium participants, augmented by others. The symposium will also lead to the production of action plans aimed at a number of different levels from building resilient communities to influencing policy-makers at local, national and international contexts. These plans will be presented at the December 2015 COP 21 Paris climate summit.

International Symposium on Climate Futures: Re-imagining Global Climate Justice at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy, from 14-16 July, 2015.


Pre-Symposium 13 July 2015

7:30pm SESSION A
Brief introduction from the four organizers on why we designed the symposium.

Moving around the table for participants to briefly introduce themselves and offer ‘what-you-hope-to-take-away from-the-workshop’ statements.

Day 1: Reimagining Climate Justice
14 July 2015

8-9:00am Breakfast

9:00am SESSION B
Organizers outline the three phases of the project – the symposium, Paris COP and the book.

Plenary discussion on Reimagining climate justice

10:00am Break

10:15am SESSION C
Speedstorming sessions on How can we achieve climate justice?

Discussion: What are the different ways to achieve climate justice? Where do we agree and disagree?

11:30am Break

11:45am SESSION D
Discussions in four small groups on climate justice in an unequal world. What role could each of the following play in sparking climate justice?

  • Women/Gender (Reem Al Mealla and Priya Kurian)

  • Indigenous peoples/Race-ethnicity/ (Erica Violet Lee and Debashish Munshi)

  • 1st and 3rd World states and peoples (Cherelle Jackson and Kum-Kum Bhavnani)
  • Youth/Intergenerational justice (Anjali Appadurai and John Foran)

  • This session will be divided so that each participant can be part of two groups

    1:00pm Lunch Break

    3:00pm SESSION E
    Report back from Session D

    4:00pm Break

    4:15pm SESSION F
    Local/Global Contexts of Climate Justice:

    Regional breakout groups:
  • Asia: Qi Ye, (discussion leader), Ahsan Uddin Ahmed, Priya Kurian

  • Europe: Anabela Carvalho (discussion leader), Anna Pérez Català, Debashish Munshi

  • Africa and Middle East: Mithika Mwenda (discussion leader), Reem Al Mealla, Patrick Bond, Kum-Kum Bhavnani

  • Oceania: Cherelle Jackson (discussion leader), Mohamed Aslam, Yeb Saño, Sangion Tiu

  • The Americas: John Foran, Erica Violet Lee, Majandra Acha, Anjali Appadurai

  • Report back from groups
    Facilitator: John Foran

    6:00pm Ten-minute wrap-up

    7:00pm Cocktails followed by dinner at the Villa Serbelloni

    Day 2: Climate Justice at the COP?
    15 July 2015

    8-9:00am Breakfast

    9:00am Summary of Day 1 followed by Agenda for Day 2

    9:30am SESSION G
    Review of COPs, how they are failing, and what possibilities exist for bringing in climate justice

    Discussion leaders: John Foran, Patrick Bond, Anna Català, Maria Acha

    Facilitator: Priya Kurian 10:45am

    11:00am SESSION H
    Focused discussions on:
  • Climate Science (Discussion leaders: Anabela Carvalho and Ahsan Uddin Ahmad)
  • UN Negotiations (Discussion leaders: (Yeb Saño and Mohamed Aslam)

  • Social Movements (Discussion leaders: (Anjali Appadurai and Maria Acha)

  • Facilitators: Debashish Munshi and Kum-Kum Bhavnani

    1:00pm Lunch

    3:00pm SESSION I
    Our Hopes for Climate Justice at Paris COP
    Discussion leaders: Patrick Bond, Anna Català, Yeb Saño

    Facilitator: Priya Kurian

    4:00pm Break

    4:15pm SESSION J
    Action Plans: Paris COP and Alternatives

    Our goal is to create action plans that will incorporate issues of social, economic, and climate justice and opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, and strengthen local, national, and global initiatives.

    Discussion leaders: Mohamed Aslam, Reem Al Mealla, Sangion Tiu

    Facilitator: John Foran 6:00pm
    Ten-minute wrap-up

    7:00pm Cocktails followed by dinner

    Day 3: Climate Futures 16 July 2015

    8-9:00am Breakfast

    9:00am Summary of Day 2 followed by Agenda for Day 3

    9:30am SESSION K
    Political imaginations and scenarios for the future
    A session for all participants to open up and imagine the future

    Facilitator: Debashish Munshi

    10:45am Break

    11:00am SESSION L
    The Book (to be edited by the four organizers)
  • What will the content be? How can it be truly innovative?

  • What will each participant write on?

  • Who else can we invite as co-contributors?

  • How will the deliberations at the symposium feed into the book?

  • How can we make this book speak to Climate Futures?

  • Facilitator: Kum-Kum Bhavnani

    12 :15 Reflections on the Symposium
    All participants

    1:00pm Lunch

    7:00pm Cocktails followed by dinner

    Post-Symposium 17 July 2015

    8:30am Check-out from Rooms
    Early breakfast available

    10:00am Participants need to depart the Bellagio Center
    Transportation to Milan available for those who have requested it at specified hours before 10 am.

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