Building on the yearly Falling Walls Science Summit and Falling Walls Circle – where scientists and Science Engagement practitioners meet with entrepreneurs, funders and policymakers –, we aim to establish the Cascading Debates as a format.

The goal is to enmesh communities in original ways and integrate global and diverse perspectives into discussions taking place at the Falling Walls Science Summit. The format is an opportunity to facilitate discourse around global challenges and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With the Cascading Debates, we want to create cycles of debate by cascading perspectives from local communities into structured discussions with multiple stakeholders. Those perspectives are then transported into higher-level discussions at the Falling Walls Science Summit. Integrating local perspectives and other stakeholder groups into these debates, while still creating manageable and productive discussions, is seen as a way of engaging society in science, through a process with meaning and impact. Afterwards, feedback loops take expert thoughts back into communities and create calls for action on global challenges.


Until September 2022, several debates will be hosted in different parts of the globe, bringing together multiple stakeholders and areas of expertise, to discuss challenges and their local to global presence. Transdisciplinary perspectives on associated topics and recommendations for action on how to tackle those global challenges will be developed. These debates will be either hosted by Cascading Debates external partners or hosted during the Falling Walls Engage Hubs (co-organised by the Falling Walls Engage team and the Hub Managers).

External partners are collaborators with expertise in multistakeholders discussion formats and/or Planetary Heath. The Falling Walls Engage Hubs offer a space for practitioners to share expertise and best practices, discuss challenges of local-global relevance and envision new international collaborations.

The debates happening throughout 2022 will follow different deliberative discussion formats and will be documented in a structured way to make the content accessible for all subsequent debates. With this, we ensure the integration of diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives into the debates, the efficacy of solutions designed, and boost faster and global-reaching changes needed to tackle the most pressing global challenges of our time. Further, the Cascading Debates format can be easily replicated globally, enabling its scalability while ensuring the iteration between diverse publics and stakeholders around the world. We think that this format is an effective manner of promoting further engagement of different audiences into tackling global challenges, as well as facilitating and supporting policy decisions informed by diverse expertise.

The perspectives, knowledge, questions and recommendations for action resulting from all the debates will be summarised and documented into online articles (like the ones above), that one can learn from and comment on. In October of 2022, the Cascading Debates project will take part in two conferences/forums (more information in the section below – Representation and Co-Design Events) that will enable the presentation of the format to different stakeholders and further co-design the format, both in terms of approach and discussion topics. Later, in November 2022, all of the inputs from the debates will feed into the content of a Plenary Table integrated in the Falling Walls Science Summit 2022 – a higher-level discussion format with top scientists, industry and funding representatives, as well as decision makers –, thereby making global and diverse voices, perspectives and expertises heard, which not often get a place in the spotlight. Hosts and participants of the Cascading Debates happening during 2022 will be invited to join this Plenary Table.

The Report

All perspectives collected through the debates, as well as the insights collected through the conferences/forum and Plenary Table, will be integrated into a report to be published in the beginning of 2023, that will serve multiple purposes:

  • disseminate an overview on 2022’s process and perspectives;
  • make available several recommendations for action to tackle global challenges;
  • be a starting point to further define how to transform those recommendations to action into effective action plans, involving the local communities.


During 2022, the Cascading Debates will focus on the Planetary Health topic. Planetary Health is a transdisciplinary field and movement that addresses connections between human and environmental health, as well as the climate crisis. So it is tightly linked to sustainability and the SDGs. Planetary Health uses a solution-oriented approach, seeking ways to promote action into tackling global challenges, and addressing human-caused changes in Earth’s natural systems and their consequences on human health and wellbeing.

Environmental impact areas addressed by the Planetary Health field:

  • Changes in biogeochemical flows
  • Changes in species abundance, composition, distribution (e.g., species extinction, overfishing)
  • Changing food systems (e.g., crop production changes)
  • Changing land use and land cover (e.g., deforestation)
  • Climate change (e.g., fossil fuels, coral reefs acidification, storms frequency, rainfall patterns, wildfires, heat waves)
  • Global pollution (e.g., water, land and air pollution)
  • Natural disasters
  • Urbanisation
  • Water scarcity

Public health impact areas addressed by the Planetary Health field:

  • Body growth and development (e.g., changes in brain development)
  • Civil strife and displacement
  • Infectious diseases (e.g., zoonoses)
  • Mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety)
  • Non-communicable diseases (e.g., allergies, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes, mental and neurological conditions)
  • Nutrition (e.g., changes in food nutrients, processes foods, diet)
  • Physical health (e.g., mobility)

The Planetary Health field calls for urgent attention to the impact areas above and for collaborative efforts among multiple stakeholders and disciplines, to reverse the trend of Planetary Health degradation, safeguard our health and the future of our planet.


  • 5th INSIST Conference 2022: Communicating Science and Technology – Controversy, Dialogue and Participation (October 06-07, Berlin). In this conference, several formats that aim to communicate science and technology will be presented and discussed. We will be presenting the Cascading Debates in an interactive session, with the goal to disseminate and co-design the format with experts from similar methodological fields.
  • World Health Summit 2022 (October 16-18, Berlin). The World Health Summit strengthens exchange, stimulates innovative solutions to health challenges, fosters global health as a key political issue and promotes the global health debate in the spirit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 17 “Partnership for the Goals”. We will be presenting the Cascading Debates in an inspiration session, with the goal to engage multiple stakeholders with stories, ideas and experiences on the Planetary Health topic, and create a space to brainstorm on innovative and co-creational joint endeavors to address the topic.



If you would like to get in touch and leave comments regarding the Cascading Debates format, click on the button below. We would really appreciate your thoughts and feedback.

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