The Anthropocene Forum 2021 will be held in Foz Coa, from June 15 to June 17 to discuss the need for an EU inclusive agenda to address the challenges that arise from a rapidly changing planet by fostering critical knowledge, sustainable innovation and a new educational paradigm.

Although these concerns are already being debated in Europe, namely under the umbrella of sustainability transitions, we call for a more inclusive and entangled approach based on the concept of the Anthropocene to explore, not only the actors of the Anthropocene but also the belief systems underlying human activities.

The term Anthropocene was popularised in 2000 by the atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen to acknowledge that humans have become a dominant and disruptive factor on our planet to such an extent that its future is in danger, or more precisely, our future on it. Climate wars, unbridled exploitation of natural resources, asymmetric distribution of wealth, massive population shifts/migrations, unexpected and extreme natural disasters, and beyond-measure/unimaginable loss of biodiversity are some of the more evident faces of the Anthropocene predicament, which call for urgent reflection and immediate action.

Although from the geological perspective the Anthropocene is not still officially recognised as a new subdivision of the geologic time scale (even if the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) already provided evidence that the world has indeed entered the Anthropocene), the concept triggered almost immediately a huge interest involving not only the scientific community (including the sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities) but also artists and the general public. For it provides a platform to connect/discuss different issues across various societal groups, ranging from academic topics to activism, from artistic engagement to growth (and degrowth) theories, from environmental policies to deforestation in Amazonia, from gender and race issues to privacy and security.

The Anthropocene Forum 2021 uses, therefore, the concept of the Anthropocene as a nexus for bringing together a multi-layered analysis of the most pressing issues we face today at the global scale, calling for a discussion grounded on the famous Bill McKibben’s appraisal of the “end of nature” coupled with the discussion on how to demand from governments and corporations to implement and enforce effective changes.

Based on its members’ history and on its collective history, the European Union is particularly tailored to host this discussion and the Portuguese Presidency, by summoning up Portugal’s strong links with both Africa and Brazil, is the perfect venue to strengthen a worldwide dialogue on the Anthropocene challenges, based on the articulation of both the scales of the global and of the local.

Programme summary

The three days address three main topics and describe an arch that gives the voice to different stakeholders, from the academy (15 June) to the public (17 June), including policy makers (16 June).

Disclaimer: due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, most speakers will join via videoconference links, and only a small number of attendees will be allowed at the Coa Museum. Please contact the Museum ahead of the event if you wish to reserve a (free) seat. To participate online, please go to Programme.

1. How should we know the Anthropocene? (15 June)

  • Different perspectives on the Anthropocene, including how to display it to the public
  • Flash lectures (short c.10 minutes) and discussion (roundtable and public)

2. How should we deal with the Anthropocene?

  • Discussion on the Anthropocene from a global institutional and politically driven perspective 
  • Flash lectures (short c.10 minutes) and discussion (roundtable and public)

3. Experiencing the Anthropocene

  • Discussion on the Anthropocene from the perspective of local communities, including local representatives, researchers, activists and public.