Why doesn’t our brain process climate change 

Professeur Olivier De Schutter, UN Rapporteur, brings together the Belgian Federal Minister for Climate Zakia Khattabi, the social psychologist Benoît Galand and the media & communications specialist Christophe Barzal, for a solution-driven discussion to address the keyquestion:   how can we further activate behavioural changes that  contribute to the mitigation of climate change?   

The debate will follow the  screening of the fascinating  new documentary film: “Climat: pourquoi notre cerveau fait l’Autruche”.  Co-authored by Olivier De Schutter and Nicolas Sayde, this 52-minutes long film produced by ARTE and Les Films à la Patte explains how our brain reacts to information about climate change.  

It explores how our brains are wired to deny certain risk such as the environmental ugency. We will discover how we develop strategies to evade “cognitive dissonance”, i.e., the psychological suffering caused by the gap between what we know about climate change and how we act in our daily routines.   

That film argues that, only by understanding how our brain works when confronted with disturbing scientific information, can we design strategies, based on the “nudging” of behaviour, that will allow us to overcome inertia in our ways of producing and consuming. 


Prof. Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.   

Olivier is the co-author of the film presented.  He is a professor at UCLouvain and at Sciences Po. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on Food Security between 2008 and 2014 and a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights between 2015 and 2020. Since 2020 he is the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty.  

He has been actively involved in the ecological transition and promoted the cause of agro-ecology as the UN Special Rapporteur on Food Security. He is currently working to reconcile ecological transformation and social justice. His most recent book deals with the role of social innovations in the ecological and socially fair transition. 


Zakia Khattabi, Federal Minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal. 

  Ms Khattabi has a basic training of social worker, supplemented by a license in social work. At university, Ms Khattabi’s greatest interest was in the theories of the social construction of reality.  

  The social phenomena, our conception of the world, the rules of our societies are constructed, created and then institutionalized. From the same train of thought, deconstruction and reconstruction of reality are possible as desired. That statement is at the heart Ms Khattabi’s own social and political engagement. 

  Ms Khattabi has  taken paths in which she has been able to link insight into our society (through research) with action (first as an activist, then in politics). She was first elected in 2009. During that first legislature, Ms Khattabi was leader of the Senate faction in the Belgian Parliament. In May 2014 Ms Khattabi was elected as a Member of Parliament in the House of Representatives. 

  In March 2015, Ms Khattabi was elected co-chair of her political party. In May 2019 she was re-elected to the House of Representatives. At the end of her mandate as co-chairman of her party, she did not run for re-election and in October 2020 she was appointed Minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal in the Belgian federal government (2020-2024). 


Prof. Benoit Galand, Professor UCL 

Benoît Galand has a doctorate in psychology and is a professor in educational sciences at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL). He is director of the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Socialisation, Education and Training (GIRSEF) and an associate member of the Research Group on School Environments (GRES, Canada). Professor Galand is the author of numerous publications in international journals and scientific books. He also acts as a trainer or consultant for several international public services and associations, and is regularly called upon by the media.  


 Christopher Barzal, Partner, Akkanto 

He is a lecturer at IHECS, Brussels and a Partner at Akkanto, one of the leading communication consulting firm. Christopher is a Communication Expert with a demonstrated history of working in the political sector and the broadcast media industry.  Skilled in Public Affairs (Executive Master from IHECS, Brussels), Marketing (Master from ICHEC, Brussels) Media Relations, Change Management, Journalism, and Strategic Communications, Christopher will share his expertise on the role of communication in supporting changing behaviors. 



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