Ecopolis 2020




The year is 2020. From Australia to the Campine, nature is on fire. There is rapid deforestation, constant building projects, and millions of species of plants and animals are under imminent threat of extinction. This exploitation of nature is radically undermining and destabilizing our world and thus our very existence. When a new virus creates an epidemic and then a pandemic, existing tensions come under even more pressure. As always, vulnerable groups here and in the global South pay the highest price.

How long can we continue to saw off the branch on which we sit? Or can we change course? Can we repair our relationship with nature? Which transitions in the city, in the countryside and in politics are necessary for a society that respects both humans and nature? For this sixth edition, Ecopolis is again inviting a broad range of writers, academic experts and thinkers from civil society. Reflect with them on the challenges post-corona.

Ecopolis will be corona-proof. The main event will take place at Kaaitheater in Brussels (limited capacity). Difficult times led to new ideas. We now work with 2 satellite venues: Labiomista in Genk and TransLab K at CC ‘t Schaliken in Herentals. More info on



11:00 – 12:30 Corona lessons for a resilient society
The corona crisis has taught us that you cannot just cut down forests or deal carelessly with animals endlessly. Outsourcing all production to low-wage countries is also no longer an option. How do we build resilient societies that are ecologically and socially durable?
A panel discussion with Myriam Dumortier (bio engineer and senior researcher at INBO), Koen Vannmechelen (contemporary conceptual artist), Jan Rotmans (transition thinker) and Christine Van Acker (writer).

12:30 – 14:00 Meet the animal
For centuries we have been intrigued by animals and have used them in our stories. Who does not know Reynard the Fox? Only recently have we learned how small the differences between humans and animals are. What does an understanding relationship with animals with recognition of their own abilities mean?
A conversation that explores new paths with: Eva Meijer (writer, philosopher and artist), Hans Van Dyck (professor Behavioral Biology), Hendrik Schoukens (environmental lawyer), Lisa Tostado (Heinrich Böllstiftung, which recently released the Insect Atlas).

14:00 – 15:30 Transition to a fair agro-ecology
Agricultural soils are eroding, biodiversity is declining alarmingly. Fortunately, we see new agro-ecological farmers emerge. Through short-chain they restore contact with consumers while also taking care of the surrounding nature. The challenge is to make these innovative practices the new normal.
A conversation with Yousra Benfquih (lawyer, poet and columnist), Louis De Jaeger (landscape architect) and others.

15:30 – 17:00 Cities full of nature and the barren countryside
It is at odds with what we think: the city is full of nature and agricultural areas are increasingly turning into deserts. But there is work to be done everywhere. For example, green space in the city is unevenly distributed and there is a need for a different vision of open space with reinforced village centers.
With Paul Demets (poet) and Els Vervloesem (transition architect).

17:00 – 18:00 Final debate
The starting point is the question posed by the French thinker Bruno Latour: Where can we land? How can we “ground ourselves” and take care of our living environment, while being open to the world?
With Warda El-Kaddouri (researcher and journalist), Anuna De Wever (climate activist), Olivier de Schutter (UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights) and Dirk Holemans (coordinator of Oikos – Think tank for socio-ecological change).