IKEM Academy 2021 explored the potential for coronavirus recovery measures to improve livelihoods and drive more sustainable development around the world. The three-day conference, titled ‘Climate change at a crossroads – opportunities and challenges for a global green recovery’, was held online from 27–29 July. At the Academy, over 100 participants shared ideas on a crucial question: how can decision-makers design recovery measures that will create jobs, bolster economic growth, finance green innovation, accelerate decarbonisation and improve prosperity for traditionally underserved communities? And how can innovators, start-ups and the general public drive sustainable change when governmental policies and regulations fall short?
As in past years, the event brought together researchers, decision-makers and representatives of industry and civil society – as both speakers and participants. Although IKEM typically hosts the event in person at locations in Berlin and Greifswald, participants joined this year’s conference by logging on to an online platform. Anika Nicolaas Ponder, who has managed the Academy since 2011, pointed to the advantages of holding a virtual event. ‘The situation had a silver lining,’ she said. ‘Because of our transition to the digital format, we didn’t have to limit the size of our audience, which meant we were able to welcome more participants than ever.’ Those unable to attend the full three-day programme could follow the live updates on IKEM’s Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram channels.
With more than 40 nationalities in attendance, the global significance of a green recovery was on full display.
Experts delivered presentations on a range of topics, from rural innovation in the US to gender-equitable economic models in Georgia. A panel of researchers and industry representatives offered insight into ‘just transitions’ to sustainability based on lessons learned from coal regions in France, the US, Greece and Germany. Speakers also examined the potential for sustainable finance tools and technological advancements in ammonia and hydrogen to help meet national and international climate targets.
This year’s Academy marked the 18th anniversary of the event. At the end of the programme, Academy staff gathered in IKEM’s outdoor courtyard to celebrate the occasion. ‘We are delighted that so many participants from around the world took part in the international exchange of ideas and would like to extend a special thank you to those who managed to tune in despite very different time zones. Still, Nicolaas Ponder says, we’re hopeful that we can celebrate our 19th anniversary in person next year!’