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


Deutsche Version

The partners of the Berlin Demography Days wish to thank all international experts from science, policy and civil society for three days of inspiring discussions from 23 to 25 January 2024! 

Recordings of all sessions are now available below. 
Go directly to the recordings of:

Day 1 – Understanding 

Day 2 – Responding 

Day 3 – Preparing

For three days in January 2024, experts from politics, business, science and civil society exchanged their visions of crisis resilience. Panel discussions looked at best practice responses to shocks caused e.g. by violent conflicts, climate change, pandemics, or to population trends. 

We wish to thank all panelists and participants for bringing in their expertise and ideas. We would also like to thank the moderators and interpreters for their excellent work. Moderation by: Marie Steffens, Ronja Bachofer, Noemi Trompeter, Öndercan Muti, Daniela Vono de Vilhena, Andreas Edel and Shelly Kupferberg. Simultaneous interpretation by: Anette Wolf and Harald Kirschner. 


Day 1 | 23. January 2024 | Understanding Crisis Management

Online Panels

12:15-13:15: Our successes, Our Failures: Covid-19 Management Put to the Test 

Julia Fitzner, Unit Head of Insights and Analytics at the World Health Organization, Eugen Brysch, Chairman of the German Patient Protection Foundation, Susan Michie, Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London, Bruno Arpino, Professor of Social Statistics at the Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Padua

What have we learned in the four years since the global outbreak of the COVID-19? Could politics and sciences have better assessed the consequences of measures for certain groups, such as older, younger or chronically ill people? 

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

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, United Nations Development Programme, Ingmar Weber, Alexander von Humboldt Professor for A.I. at Saarland University, Magdalena Rogl, Microsoft Germany Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Author

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, Artificial Intelligence saved valuable time analysing of the structure of the virus. Yet A.I. poses ethical challenges. What do scientists and policymakers have to be aware of in the era of machine learning?

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

Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak, Director of the Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics, Fernand de Varennes, Former UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues (2017-2023), Lorence Kabasele Birungi, President of AfriYAN for Eastern and Southern Africa and of the UNFPA-DRC Youth Advisory Panel, Manuela Verduci, Managing Director of Kiron Digital Learning Solutions, Co-Founder of Match Talent

Some population groups can to respond to crises flexibly. Others cope with restrictions such as 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?

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

Alice M. Reid, Director of the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, Sigrid Weigel, Senior Researcher, former Director of the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research, Jürgen Renn, Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

How did human societies 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? 


Escaping the Crisis Paradox Together: Evening Event at the "Futurium" in Berlin (for video see top of page)

Antje Draheim, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Health, Pearl Dykstra, scientific advisor to the European Commission, Hermann Gröhe, Member of the German Bundestag, Georg Schütte, General Secretary of the Volkswagen Foundation

Welcome by: Ulrich Lilie, President of Diakonie Germany and Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography

18:25-19:45:  | Policy Panel

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

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

Virginia Wangare Greiner, Chief Executive and co-founder of the NGO “Maisha” in Frankfurt am Main, Andreas Backhaus, Senior Research Fellow at the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), Doris Schaeffer, Co-Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Health Literacy Research, Bielefeld University, Øyvind Ihlen, Professor at the Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo

During the pandemic, people learned about "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 information policy be improved in future crises?

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

Mumuni Abu, Senior Lecturer, Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, Kai Bergmann, Senior Advisor on German Low-Carbon Policy, Germanwatch, Raya Muttarak, Professor of Demography, University of Bologna, Caroline Zickgraf, Deputy Director, The Hugo Observatory, University of Liège

The climate crisis is being felt everywhere. While some populations struggle with the consequences of drought, desertification or wildfires, others face floods, storms and rising sea levels. Is it realistic to create a climate resilience strategy individually tailored to every city or region at risk?

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

Daniele Vignoli, Professor of Demography at the University of Florence, Thiago Hérick de Sá, Technical Officer for Age-friendly Environments, World Health Organization, Adam Rogalewski, Policy Officer for health and social services in the European Federation of Public Service Unions, Jane C. Falkingham, Professor of Demography and International Social Policy, Vice President of the University of Southampton

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

17.30 - 18.30 War and Health

Sebastian Klüsener, Research Director "Ageing, Mortality and Population Dynamics", German Federal Institute for Population Research, Amy Neumann-Volmer, Board of Médecins Sans Frontières Germany, Lukas Welz, Executive Director at the German Association of Psychosocial Centres for Refugees and Victims of Torture

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? And who is responsible for offering such care?

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

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

Donya Gilan, Psychologist and Head of Science Communication at the Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research in Mainz, Sir Geoffrey Mulgan, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation at University College London, Katrin von der Dellen, Team Lead of Programme Development & Donor Engagement at CARE Germany, Alexia Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, Professor of Mathematical Economics at TU Vienna, Deputy Director of the Vienna Institute of Demography

What are the lessons from 2023's "shocks" in terms of natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Turkey and northern Syria, the droughts in southern Europe or the destructive fires on Maui? As we move from crisis management to long-term strategies, what can we expect from forecasting methods?

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

Florence Bauer, Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, United Nations Population Fund, Bernard O. Onyango, Senior Research and Policy Analyst, African Institute for Development Policy, Daniel Mucha, Division KM 1 - General Policy; National Crisis Management at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community, Arnstein Aassve, Professor of Demography at Bocconi University, Principal Investigator of “FutuRes: Towards A Resilient Future of Europe”

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

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

Andreas Schulze, Head of Department "Demographic Change, Older People, Welfare", Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Claudia Neu, Professor for Rural Sociology, Universities of Goettingen and Kassel (Germany), Yanina Taneva, Cofounder of “Ideas Factory Bulgaria”, Cordula Weimann, Founder of the Movement “Omas for Future” (Grandmas 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". What are promising examples of solidarity and "crisis learning" between generations?

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


Novelist Maja Lunde is the 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. Her newest book "Lukkertid" ("Shutter Time") imagines a demographic utopia - or dystopia.

Journalist Shelly Kupferberg will discuss with Maja Lunde 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

This event has received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement 101094741

EU-Flagge. Funded by the European Union


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