Climate change, poverty and multi-resistant bacteria – on 9 November, scholars and scientists from around the world will present innovative solutions to the greatest challenges of our time at the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin


Berlin, 29 August 2017. Which walls will be the next to fall? On the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on 9 November, 20 leading researchers from around the world will propose answers to this question at the annual Falling Walls Conference in Berlin. A list of the speakers confirmed so far is available at

The stars attending this year’s conference include the Dutch climate researcher Guus Velders of Utrecht University. His work in atmospheric chemistry has provided the basis for some of the important climate treaties of recent years. One example: his 2016 calculations on the negative effects of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) on global warming led to the adoption of a special amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Almost 200 countries agreed to drastically reduce emissions of these greenhouse gases, which are predominantly used in air-conditioning. For this contribution, Guus Velders was named one of the 100 most influential people in 2017 by Time magazine, and, in 2016, as one of “Ten people who mattered this year” by Nature.

Another danger that poses far-reaching consequences for humanity is antibiotic resistance: in the future, we could see a drastic rise in the number of people who die from infections caused by multi-resistant bacteria. Timothy Walsh researches the causes of antibiotic resistance at Cardiff University. While conducting a study in China, he discovered the gene MCR-1, which helps bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotic colistin and thus renders a whole class of antibiotics ineffective. Because this gene can be easily spread to other bacteria, Timothy Walsh advocates for a reduced and responsible use of antibiotics to prevent the further spread of resistance.

One of the most respected researchers in her field is the French economist Esther Duflo, who works on poverty reduction and development strategies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her innovative methods have garnered numerous awards as well as an appointment to former president Barack Obama’s Global Development Council. Duflos’s work is based on what are known as “randomized studies”, such as are also used in medical research: small groups are assigned different economic and development measures, the effects are compared between the groups and, if required, the measures are adapted to best serve current needs. As a result of this approach and the resulting recommendations, Esther Duflo has significantly influenced modern development policy.

The first Falling Walls Conference took place in 2009 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the event has since become a highly respected platform for top research from around the world. The Conference is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Berlin Senate, as well as by numerous scientific institutions, foundations and companies. On the day before the Falling Walls Conference, on 8 November, the Falling Walls Foundation hosts the Falling Walls Lab, an event for aspiring scientists and innovators, as well as Falling Walls Venture, a competition for science-based start-ups.

If you would like to request an interview or require information for pre-event coverage, please contact Lucie Menz at or +49-30-60 988 39-74. Online accreditation is available at

For further information on the Falling Walls Conference on 9 November and the expanded programme, please visit

On the day of the event, the conference will be streamed live online here:


The Falling Walls Conference is part of the Berlin Science Week:


Press contact
Lucie Menz
Falling Walls Foundation gGmbH
Chausseestraße 8e
10115 Berlin

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

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