Falling Walls Conference announces new speakers on 9 November 2011 in Berlin


Berlin, 19 October 2011. For the third time, the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 2011 sets the stage for a top level scientific conference to answer the question “which are the next walls to fall?”.

One of the major threats to agricultural sustainability are microscopic parasitic worms, called nematodes, causing global crop yield losses of $125 billion annually. In most parts of the developed world, damages by nematodes have been controlled with potentially hazardous pesticides, which are under criticism for their massive side effect and will be removed in Europe in the coming years. At the Falling Walls Conference, Waceke Wanjohi, a scientist from Kenyatta University in Nairobi, will present an environmentally friendly alternative to control the parasitic worms of plants. She has managed to improve crop yields in smallholder farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa by effectively using indigenous fungi (mushroom-type organisms) to bio-control the worms. The benefits of her approach are significant: there will be less pesticide use and misuse, reduced food risks and environmental damages, as well as an increased food harvest in Africa.

According to Stewart Wallis of the New Economics Foundation, the most fundamental problem to our survival is the increased level of consumption that leads to inequality, less happiness, more insecurity and in the long-term destroys the conditions of life. He argues that if everybody lived at the level of the most conventionally developed and wasteful nations, such as the USA, we would need five planets to survive. Wallis therefore urges policy makers to accelerate a transition to an economy that abolishes out-dated economic indicators like the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and instead takes ecological boundaries and real human needs into account. In Berlin, he will present new parameters to assess common progress as well as solutions to restructure our financial system. Wallis will provide strategies for fulfilling and healthy lives for people while still running a strong economy and respecting the Earth’s limits.

The current ecological and economic crisis is the result of our actions and can only be stopped if we change our behaviour. Elke Weber from Columbia University studied behavioural models of judgement and decision and found that people only changing when they have been emotionally affected or have personally experienced a disaster or failure of some kind.  According to Weber, most people wait to address a problem until there is what she calls a “Pearl Harbour or 9/11” moment, but then it is usually too late.  She will explain, why we are resistant to change and at the same time will share her research results that can be used for innovative products and policies to change human behaviour.


About the Falling Walls Conference

The Falling Walls conference is an annual global gathering of forward thinking individuals from 75 countries. Each year, 20 of the world’s leading scientists are invited to Berlin to present their current breakthrough research. The initial conference was held in 2009 on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall to celebrate this historic day by looking into the future and trying to understand the world of tomorrow. Falling Walls is supported by the German Ministry for Education and Research and the Berlin Senate for Education, Science and Research  as well as numerous of scientific institutions.

For more information about this year’s program, to order a documentation of the past conferences or to register, please visit



Press Contact

Doreen Rietentiet
Falling Walls Foundation gGmbH
Chausseestrasse 8 e
D-10115 Berlin

Tel: +49 30 60 988 39 74
Fax: +49 30 60 988 39 79

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