Opening Conference : societal transformations and climate change

Opening conference: What societal transformations induced by climate change?

Climate change is already affecting societies within the world. Its impacts are diverse and will be growing in the years to come. What is upon us is not an adaptation to a new stable changed climate, but a climate which will continue to warm and show more and more extreme events.

Societies are currently adapting in various ways, through new risk management practices for private companies, through defined plans for institutional actors from the local to the global level, and individual actions as well.

This conference enabled us to reflect on the impacts of climate change and the societal transformations needed to guarantee sustainable development which would be “resilient” to climate, as reported in the AR5 of IPCC. We then took a look at the international research existing today about the links between climate, security and conflicts. We finally had a reflection on how societies can transform themselves to address climate’s impacts – not in a defensive way but rather within a more democratic agenda.


  • Jean-Pascal van Ypersele: “How climatic changes threaten living on Earth, and why it is not a misfortune”
  • François Gemenne: “Climate and security”
  • Mark Pelling: “Transformative adaptation”


The Conference was organized by the Institute for Environmental Management and Land-use Planning (IGEAT) of the Free University of Brussels (ULB). More specifically, the Center for Studies on Sustainable Development (CEDD), one of its research units, was responsible for this event. This unit is directed by Pr. Edwin Zaccai, who co-presented the conference with Pr. Etienne Hannon.


This conference was supported by La fondation Bernheim and held in partnership with WES.