UNESCO Master Class: Colonial Continuities and Climate Activism

Heidelberg – Germany

UNESCO Master Class on Colonial Continuities and Climate Activism 

31.10.- 01.11.2020

Part I: Colonial Traces and Continuities in the City 

For this year's World Cities Day on October 31, the Office of Equal Opportunities at the City of Heidelberg will put a spotlight on its colonial heritage. By hosting the UNESCO Master Class on Colonialism and Climate Activism, Heidelberg addresses urban discourses on sustainability and social inclusion in Europe.  

In cooperation with Heidelberger Partnerschaft für Demokratie, Mosaik Deutschland e.V., Globales Klassenzimmer Heidelberg and Fridays For Future (FFF) Heidelberg, the Office for Equal Opportunities at the City of Heidelberg together with the European Coalition of Cities against Racism (ECCAR) is hosting the UNESCO Master Class on Colonialism and Climate Activism between October 31 and November 1, 2020.

The Master Class starts with a city walk through the old town of Heidelberg, on October 31 at 11am CET. Participants of the city walk, get to know the colonial history of Heidelberg and actively engage with colonial continuities in the city. By showing parallels between colonial past and present, participants are encouraged to also recognize invisible manifestations of colonialism, thereby inquiring the origins of racism and setting a foundation for the fight against discrimination.

Cities take a key role in fostering an inclusive and non-discriminatory urban environment and taking accountability to their citizens. When it comes to racial discrimination, processes of colonial remembrance and the recognition of colonial crimes are paramount for ensuring equal chances for all and an inclusive development of urban society . 

Part II: Reflecting the Privilege of White Climate Activism

In the context of worldwide climate protests and accusations of eurocentric perspectives on climate change, the second part of the UNESCO Master Class on Colonialism and Climate Activism: “Reflecting the privilege of white climate activism” addresses colonial continuities and exclusion within european climate movements. 

On November 1 at 12am CET, young activists and students study colonial structures and their relation to climate activism in the form of  online workshop sessions and discussions. 

The online event, including workshop sessions and a panel debate, on November 1, connects colonial continuities to climate change and activism. Bringing together voices of art, activism and science, the webinar addresses asymmetries in media attention and the visibility of BIPoC voices within european climate movements, as well the lack of sensitivity for forms of discrimination and racism in organizations and their activities.

Among the guests for the Master Class are the well known german singer songwriter Celina Bostic who highlights racism in Germany in her recent single “Nie wieder Leise” and captures, together with black activist, ecological necromancer and poet Shofie Bahalwan, the reality and demands of BIPoCin Germany. FFF Heidelberg activist Line Niedeggen and  United Colors of Change (UCC) activist Leonie Baumgarten Egemole, addressed climate justice, from an intersectional perspective at local protests in Heidelberg. Berlin based scientists Tonny Nowshin and Imeh Ituen research on development economics and resource management and are both very active in climate organizations and the German BIPoC community. 

By centering the experiences of BIPoC within the european climate movement, the event follows up on climate justice discourses and promotes non-white and intersectional perspectives on climate change and activism. 

Inspiring interventions, talks, Workshops and discussions aim at stimulating reflection processes resulting in more inclusive strategies for organizational development. Taking an anti-racist perspective, the Master Class introduces students and young activists to tools and methods for critically reflecting own privileges and white narratives. Thereby inviting participants to actively engage their perceptions and discover their positioning within global power structures. 

The event facilitates the reflection of participants’ activist work within the climate movement, and encourages them to identify organizational structures inhibiting the inclusion of BIPoC and develop strategies for breaking up white centered spaces and structures, aiming at a broader and representative coalition of climate activists.

In the light of public attention to embedded racism and structural discrimination, this Master Class shifts awareness to racism in the context of civil-society and political organizing and highlights the importance of structures and strategies sensitive to discrimination. 


 Programm November 1: 

12:00 - 12:10 Introduction UNESCO & Office of Equal Opportunities City of Heidelberg

12:10 - 13:00 Interventions

  • Artistic intervention by Celina Bostic 
  • Artistic intervention by Shofie Balahwan 
  • Input by Anita Soina
  • Input by Tonny Nowshin
  • Input by Shayli Kartal
  • Input by Leonie Baumgarten-Egemole und Line Niedeggen

Moderation: Evein Obulor

Reflecting on privileges 

13:00 - 14:00 Workshop session I  Se McCarty (Migration Hub Heidelberg), Aaron Müller (AntiRassismusvor8), Evein Obulur (European Coalition of Cities against Racism) (only in german)

14:00 - 15:00 Break

15:00 - 16:00 Workshop session II Inclusive organizational strategies (only in german)

Se McCarty (Migration Hub Heidelberg), Aaron Müller (AntiRassismusvor8), Evein Obulur (European Coalition of Cities against Racism)

16:00 - 17:00 Panel discussion - United for the climate? Avenues for an inclusive climate movement (only in german)

with: Asuka Kaehler (FFF), Imeh Ituen (Black Earth Collective), Jane (Extinction Rebellion), Dante Esteban Davis (BUNDjugend)

Moderation: Ali Can 



If you want to participate in this Master Class please send a mail to eccar@heidelberg.de until October 28.