Plenary Sessions & World Café

Plenary Session I: Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Geographical Roots of Inequality and the Future of the Liberal International Order

Panel Organizers:

Harald Bathelt (University of Toronto) and
Michael Storper (LSE, UCLA, Sciences Po Paris)

The past thirty years have generated a strong geographical spreading of capitalist market relations – especially to East Asia and the former Soviet Union. This has been accompanied by an unprecedented increase in global prosperity, measured by global per capita income, the massive expansion of the global middle class, and a precipitous decline in extreme poverty in many parts of the world. And yet, in many countries, there are growing populist movements that call into question unbridled globalization, liberal internationalism, and the rule of markets. Among the many varieties of such movements can be included the American election and the Brexit vote in 2016, and strong revanchist tendencies in many other countries worldwide from Russia to Turkey, Hungary and the Philippines.

There are undoubtedly many complex reasons for this new “age of anger”, ranging from economic to cultural. Principal among them are the growth in two kinds of inequality amidst general increases in prosperity: interpersonal inequalities in income and social status are growing in many countries, along-side geographical inequalities in prosperity, income and opportunity. The globalized urban centers that were the drivers of economic growth and seemingly borderless networks have come under pressure and urban elites are claimed to be responsible for stagnation and decline in other regions.

Political entrepreneurs have assigned much of the reason for these inequalities to globalization and liberal internationalism and hence are prescribing remedies that involve retreat from global trade, global labor and capital mobility, and global political order and international obligations. A new populist turn in politics has mobilized masses of what could be referred to as disillusioned globalization losers that are ready to push for isolationist, anti-immigration, anti-globalization policies.

In this panel, we aim to discuss: the nature and reasons for the geography of inequalities; the nature and reasons for the strong regional or geographical expressions of populism/anti-globalism versus pro-globalism and openness; the possible futures of such movements and their geographical bases; and the consequences for re-thinking development policies, whether at the level of the architecture of globalization or at the scale of spatial-regional economic policies within countries.

The confirmed panelists are (aside from the panel organizers):

-    Kathy Cramer (Political Science, University of Wisconsin – Madison)
-    Ron Inglehart (Political Science, University of Michigan)
-    Cristóbal Kaltwasser (Political Science, Diego Portales University, Chile)
-    Ron Martin (Geography, University of Cambridge)
-    Jonathan Rodden (Political Science, Standford University)

Plenary Session II: Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Poverty and Inequality: Trends, Drivers, Policy Options

Panel Organizer:

Javier Revilla Diez (University of Cologne)

Since the 1990s, global poverty has reduced considerably. However, poverty remains a substantial problem for many countries across the so-called Global South and in pockets of the Global North. According to the International Poverty Line, set at US$1.90 per day for 2017, approximately 768.5 million people worldwide are considered extremely poor; if the poverty line is drawn at US$2.50 per day, then almost half the world’s population lives in poverty. Why is progress on poverty reduction so slow? This panel’s discussions focus especially on growing internal inequalities within countries. Indeed, several emerging economies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have achieved the status of a middle-income countries. At the same time, income disparities remain high, or are even increasing, challenging social cohesion within and between countries. Against this background, this plenary session will focus on three core topics. First, it will discuss global trends in poverty and inequality, including methodological questions related to measurement and other challenges. Second, it will focus on societal outcomes of growing inequalities, and the reasons for existing structures of discrimination and exclusion. Third, it will explicitly discuss policy options to reduce inequalities, and to more equitably distribute access to resources and assets.
The confirmed panellists are (aside from the panel organizer):

-    Ndapewa Fenny Nakanyete (University of Namibia)
-    Bernd Lakemeier (GIZ)
-    Tomomi Tanaka (The World Bank, USA)

-    Fabrice Murtin (OECD Statistics Directorate, France)

Plenary Session III: Thursday, July 26, 2018

Feeding the Global South. How do local and global processes contribute to food justice?

Panel Organizer:

Boris Braun (University of Cologne)

Between 2015 and 2016, the global number of chronically undernourished people increased from 777 million to 815 million. This reversed a decades-long downwards trend in the absolute number of people who were consuming insufficient calories for their daily energy requirements. Yet this alarming statistic reveals only one dimension of the world food problem. An additional 2 billion people eat enough calories for their daily energy needs, but don’t receive the requisite vitamins and micronutrients for a healthy life. And 13 % of the world’s adult population is overweight and obese, twice the prevalence in 1980. The conjuncture of these different dimensions of hunger and malnutrition represents the outcome of complex social, economic and environmental processes cutting across different geographical scales. This panel addresses this critical global problem. It asks how the place- and scale-sensitive foci of geographers can lead to new understandings of how and why food justice – defined as the right to a satiating, healthy, culturally appropriate and sustainable diet – still eludes so many on the planet. Moreover, the session aims to discuss practical strategies to overcome hunger and undernourishment of millions of people in the Global South.
The confirmed panellists are (aside from the panel organizer):

-    Stephanie Barrientos (University of Manchester)
-    Sudha Narayanan (Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research)
-    Gilbert M. Nduru (Karatina University, Kenya)

-    Bill Pritchard (University of Sydney/University of Cologne)

World Café: Friday, July 27, 2018

Overview World Café: Dynamics of Unequal Developments in the Global South

Panel Organizer:

Martina Fuchs (University of Cologne)

The World Café approach is a practical communication tool to support a flexible and vivid discussion. Discussants will host constantly changing groups of participants and confront them with guide-lining questions based on emerging topics of economic geography in the Global South. Later, the results will be collected and assembled to reflect on the individual group results. The World Café segment encourages a broad variety of research fields.

The World Café focuses on the dynamics of unequal developments in the Global South. Discussions relate e.g. to industrial and agricultural value chains, urban, peri-urban and rural development, international mobilization and grassroots initiatives, digital transformation and innovation, as well as tourism, as critical factors of regional development.


-    Adrian Guillermo Aguilar (Geography, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
-    Tatiana Lopez Ayala (Regional Studies, University of Cologne)
-    Phyllis Bußler (Regional Studies, University of Cologne)
-    Niels Fold (Geography, University of Copenhagen)
-    Wenying Fu (Geography, South China Normal University)
-    Aarti Krishnan (Geography, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and University of Manchester)
-    Julia Verne (Geography, University of Bonn)