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Berlin Demography Days 2024: Overcoming Crises. Shaping Policy for an Uncertain Future


A deep blue crashing wave
Photo: Emiliano Arano


Tuesday, 23 January - Thursday, 25 January 2024 


Deutsche Version

The partners of the Berlin Demography Days invite you to join three days of online dialogues with international experts from science, policy and civil society.

Beyond the crisis … 

To many, our current world appears to be in never-ending crisis. Fears about the future have increased, especially among the younger generation. Crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and ecological disasters challenge us to move towards a framework of forward-looking crisis management. 

Demographic research plays an important role in this process: data-driven evidence on populations is vital to understand the impact of crises.

… there is resilience 

For three days the Berlin Demography Days 2024 will be a platform for online stakeholder dialogue on crisis resilient policy making. Experts from politics, business, science and civil society will exchange their perspectives and create a vision of future crisis resilience. Panel discussions will look at best practice responses to shocks caused e.g. by violent conflicts, global warming and pandemics, or to population developments such as societal ageing. 

Participation is free of charge. Registration is required and will open in the end of November. The event will be held in German and English, with simultaneous translation provided.



Day 1 – Understanding | Day 2 – Responding | Day 3 – Preparing

The afternoon sessions on each day will consist of one-hour panels online ("Policy Dialogue"). Each day will conclude with a special evening event. 

All times are Central European Time (CET).


Day 1 | 23. January 2024 | Understanding Crisis Management

Societal shocks require rapid and decisive action on one hand, and prudent risk assessment on the other. On the first day, this "paradox" of crisis management will be examined using past and present crises as examples. 

How can cooperation be improved between actors from politics, civil society, the private sector, academia and the media? How can demographic research support effective crisis management?


Policy Dialogues (online)

12:00-12:15: A welcome from Diakonie and Population Europe

12:15-13:15: Our Successes, Our Failures: COVID-19 Management Put to the Test 

with: Bruno Arpino, Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Padua | Eugen Brysch, Chair of the "Stiftung Patientenschutz" (Foundation for the Protection of Patients) in Germany | Julia Fitzner, WHO Pandemic Hub, Department of Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence Systems | Susan Michie, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change, University College London

Recently, policy experts have issued warnings that the world may not be prepared for the next pandemic. What lessons must we learn from evidence collected in the four years since the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic? Where did we go wrong, where did we go right? In particular, could policy and sciences have done better assessing the consequences of measures for certain groups, such as older people, younger people or chronically ill people? 

13:30-14:30: Will Artificial Intelligence Help Us Better Prepare for Crises? 

with: Brando Benifei, Member of the European Parliament, rapporteur on the “Proposal for a Regulation on a European approach for Artificial Intelligence” | Yasmine Hamdar, A.I. Policy Specialist, UNDP Chief Digital Office | Magdalena Rogl, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Microsoft Germany | Ingmar Weber, Alexander von Humboldt Professor for AI, Saarland University 

Humans may understand things better than computers, but computers process them faster. In a crisis situation, this can save lives. In the COVID 19 pandemic, the use of machine learning saved valuable time by helping with the analysis of the structure of the virus. Yet AI poses ethical challenges. What do scientists and policymakers have to be aware of in the era of machine learning and artificial intelligence?

14:45-15:45: Who Can Cope, Who Can't? The Impact of Crises on Heterogeneous Societies 

with: Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak, Director of the Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics | Lorence Kabasele Birungi, President of AfriYAN for Eastern and Southern Africa and of the UNFPA-DRC Youth Advisory Panel | Fernand de Varennes, UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues | Manuela Verduci, Managing Director of “Kiron Digital Learning Solutions”, Co-Founder of the “Match Talent Initiative”

Some population groups can to respond to crises flexibly. Others cope with restrictions, e.g. a lack of food and water, physical and mental health issues, job loss, other socio-economic disadvantages. Anticipating which groups will be most affected by future crises can help design policies which aim to leave no one behind. How do responses to health crises differ by population group? How does age affect coping? How do refugee and immigrant communities respond to sudden restrictions in their mobility?

16:00-17:00: Step Back to See the Whole Picture: Historical Perspectives on Crises 

with: Alice M. Reid, Director of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure | Jürgen Renn, Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science | Rita Süssmuth, former President of the Bundestag, former German Federal Minister for Health and Family | Sigrid Weigel, Senior Researcher, former Director of the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research

How did people react to crises in the past, how did they anticipate them? In this panel, we look at critical moments in history. For example, what did crisis management look like during the early HIV/AIDS epidemic? How did it change health crisis responses forever? What can we learn from going even further back in time? 


Opening Event in Berlin (hybrid)

with: Antje Draheim, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health | Pearl Dykstra, Professor of Empirical Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Scientific Director of ODISSEI, the Open Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economics Innovations | Andreas Eckert (tbc), Chair of Förderfonds Wissenschaft, Berlin | Andreas Edel, Executive Secretary, Population Europe | Hermann GröheMember of the German Bundestag | Hill Kulu, President of the European Association of Population Studies, Professor of Human Geography and Demography, University of St Andrews | Ulrich Lilie, President of Diakonie Germany | Juliane Seifert, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community | Georg Schütte, General Secretary of the Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) | Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography

17:30: Registration for participants attending in person

18:00: Welcome

18:25-19:45: Escaping the Crisis Paradox Together | Policy Panel

In a sudden crisis, decision-makers must act quickly – but never in a rush. A paradoxical situation, to which many actors respond by retreating to their area of expertise. But experts agree: as we prepare for coming crises, the opposite is necessary: cooperation and communication. How can science, politics, business, the media and civil society work better together to manage a crisis? What are potential obstacles to such cooperation? How should science advise policymakers in the future?

19:45: European Demographer Awards 2023 | Award Ceremony

20:00-21:00: Reception for all in-person participants


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Day 2 | 24 January 2024 | Global Crises – Local Responses

Pandemics, violent conflicts, climate change and demographic change - all these developments have impacts on a global scale. Yet how can they best be managed on a regional or local level? 

The focus of panels of the second day will be on best practice examples of crisis responses in regional contexts. 

Policy Dialogues (online)

13:00-13:15: Welcome to Day 2 of the Berlin Demography Days 2024

13:15-14:15: The Pandemic and Access to Information

with: Andreas Backhaus, German Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) | Øyvind Ihlen, Professor at the Department of Media and Communications, University of Oslo | Doris Schaeffer, Professor of Health Science at Bielefeld University | Virginia Wangare Greiner, CEO of Maisha, a non-profit organisation for African migrants in Germany 

Accessibility to information was a key issue during the pandemic. People learned about terms like "incidence", "hospitalization", and "excess mortality", and faced the challenge of understanding statistics. The internet and digital tools were an important medium, but misinformation also circulated. How can the circulation of information be improved in future crises?

14:30-15:30: Adapting to Climate Change: Local Role Models

with: Mumuni Abu, Senior Lecturer at the Regional Institute for Population Studies at the University of Ghana | Raya Muttarak, Professor of Demography at the University of Bologna, Head of “Population Dynamics under Global Climate Change” (European Research Council) | Caroline Zickgraf, Deputy Director of the “Hugo Observatory: Environment, Migration, Politics” (University of Liège)

The climate crisis is being felt everywhere - be it in the form of more frequent natural disasters or increasingly severe weather phenomena. While populations struggle with the consequences of drought, desertification or wildfires in one place, they have to cope with floods, storms and rising sea levels in the other. Is it realistic to create an individually tailored climate resilience strategy for every city or region at risk?

15:45-16:45: We are Ageing – Now and Later: Health Care in the Context of Demographic Change

with: Jane C. Falkingham, Director of the Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton | Thiago Hérick de Sa, Technical Officer for Age-friendly Environments, WHO | Adam Rogalewski, Policy Officer Health and Social Services, European Public Service Union | Daniele Vignoli, Professor of Demography, University of Florence, Head of “Age-It: Ageing Well in an Ageing Society”

Soon, most people will be able to expect many decades of “retirement”. How can we ensure that all people can live active and healthy lives in old age, and that everyone can contribute to and participate in society? This panel takes a comparative perspective and looks at different approaches to better age appropriate care in various countries.

Evening event (online)

17.30 - 18.30 War and Health | Policy Panel

with: Sebastian KlüsenerResearch Director "Ageing, Mortality and Population Dynamics", German Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) | Nataliia Levchuk, Senior Researcher at the Ptoukha Institute for Demography and Social Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine | Amy Neumann-Volmer, Board of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Germany | Lukas Welz, Managing Director at the German Association of Psychosocial Centres for Refugees and Victims of Torture (BAfF)

In our second evening podium we look at the effects of violent conflict on physical and mental health. What do we know about the care needs of displaced people, for example after the Russian invasion of Ukraine? What health policy measures are needed for people displaced by war and violence? Who is responsible for offering such care?


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Day 3 | 25 January 2024 | How We Can Better Prepare For Crises

Getting ahead of the wave: Day 3 is dedicated to visions of crisis resilience. How can we better prepare welfare state institutions for future shocks? Is it possible to face future crises with a new narrative?

Policy Dialogues (online)

13:00-13:15 Welcome to Day 3 of the Berlin Demography Days 2024

13:15-14:15: Building Back Better: After the "Shock" and Beyond

with: Alexia Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, Professor of Mathematical Economics at TU Vienna | Donya Gilan, Head of "Resilience & Society", Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research, Mainz | Anica Heinlein, Director Communications & Advocacy and Head of Office Berlin, CARE | Sir Geoffrey Mulgan, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation, University College London

This panel will discuss the transition from immediate crises management to long-term strategies. What are the lessons from this year's earthquake disaster in Turkey and northern Syria, the droughts in southern Europe or the destructive fires on Maui? What can we expect from forecasting and scenario building?

14:30-15:30: Visionary Institutions for Crisis Prevention

with: Arnstein Aassve, Professor of Demography, Bocconi University, Milan, Head of "FutuRes - Towards a Resilient Future of Europe" | Bernard O. Onyango, Senior Research and Policy Analyst, African Institute for Development Policy | Jörn Thießen, Head of the Directorate-General "Community, Cohesion and Democracy" at the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community

How adaptable are our institutions in crisis situations? Do we need "crisis ministries"? How do global discussion forums (such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the World Economic Forum, and the Munich Security Conference) help prepare for the future? Which institutional gaps should be filled before the end of the decade?

15:45-16:45: Fostering a Future with Intergenerational Solidarity

with: Claudia Neu, Professor of Rural Sociology (Universities of Göttingen and Kassel) | Andreas Schulze, Head of the Department "Demographic Change, Older People, Welfare" at the German Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth | Yanina Taneva, Ideas Factory Bulgaria | Cordula Weimann, Founder of “Omas for Future”

Rather than as an impending socio-political "tsunami," we should see demographic change as an opportunity for collective action. This panel is about reinterpreting the crisis narrative of the "aging society".  Instead of "boomers versus zoomers", it should be all for each other! Solidarity between generations can increase resilience. What are promising examples of solidarity and "crisis learning" between generations?

Evening event (online)

17:00 -18:00 A World Without Crises: is it Possible? | A Conversation with "Climate Novelist" Maja Lunde

Maja Lunde is an international bestselling writer of "Climate Fiction". Her work has succeeded in making the climate crisis palpable to readers worldwide and made her the most successful Norwegian author of her generation. "The History of Bees" is sold in 40 languages and topped the bestseller list in Germany in 2017. 

Maja Lunde will discuss with us if there is a reason for optimism in a world of crises. Is an optimistic attitude naïve or urgently needed? What can, what must artists do, to help us face hardship? How can literature and culture move us past crisis thinking?


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Organisers of the 2024 Berlin Demography Days:

Logos of Diakonie Germany, Population Europe, Berlin Demography Days

Cooperation partners of the 2024 Berlin Demography Days:


Logos of African Institute for Development Policy, Association Internationale des Démographes de Langue Fran-çaise, FutuRes: Towards a Resilient Future of Europe, Bundesinsitut für Bevölkerungsforschung, British Society for Population Studies, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Demographie, European Association for Population Studies, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, Italian Association for Population Studies, Nederlandse Vereniging voor Demografie, United Nations Population Funds


The organisers would like to thank the following partners for their financial support of the Berlin Demography Days:


Logos of German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community, German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, the German Federal Ministry of Health, the Stifterverband and the Förderfonds Wissenschaft in Berlin

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