Making Utopia possible

500 years Thomas Morus’s Utopia and 25 years Wuppertal Institute: the institute invites you to congresses, ceremony, celebrations, and utopian city exploration from 6 to 9 September 2016.

In 1516, the philosophical essay “De optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia” – “On the Best State of a Republic and on the New Island of Utopia” by the British statesman Thomas Morus was published.

A glimpse of Wuppertal
A glimpse of Wuppertal. Photo: Olaf Joachimsmeier

2016, one year after the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, the Wuppertal Institutes celebrates its 25th birthday. We think that 500 years Utopia is reason enough to discuss the importance of positive social utopias and to contrast new ideas with established beliefs in economy, government, and society.

The Wuppertal Institute and the city of Wuppertal are a perfect fit to bring together those two anniversaries. Since its founding, the Institute’s mission has been the development of visions of a sustainable world and to find strategies on how to make these visions reality socially, economically and politically, to name just one reason.

Making Utopia possible – Welcome to Wuppertal – I invite you to celebrate our birthday with us and to get to know concrete utopian projects in our city.

Uwe Schneidewind
President of the Wuppertal Institute

Celebrate, Discuss, Experience

The ceremony on 8 September 2016 is at the core of the Institute’s birthday celebrations. It is framed by two scientific conferences and chances to experience the city’s utopian potential.

Historic town hall of Wuppertal
The historic town hall of Wuppertal at Johannisberg – the picturesque location of the Wuppertal Institute’s 25th birthday ceremony on 8 September 2016. It’s one of the most beautiful and impressive event locations in Germany – and within walking distance from the central train station. Photo: © Lars Langemeier

Programme Ceremony

(Please note that the ceremony will be held in German)

10.15 Champagne reception in the entrance foyer, 11.00 Welcoming

Is the Great Transformation already on track?
About global milestones, actors and new challenges
Keynote by

  • Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner, Vice Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), Director of the German Development Institute (DIE)

Making the Transformation possible: Leading the way and motivating others

Policy measures and scientific impulses for a sustainable North Rhine-Westphalia
Panel discussion with

  • Svenja Schulze, Minister for Innovation, Science and Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Johannes Remmel, Minister for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick, Vice-President of the Wuppertal Institute
  • Dr. Christa Liedtke, Director of the research unit “Sustainable Production and Consumption”, Wuppertal Institute

Climate, Resources, City
Perspectives of an integrated environmental and sustainability policy in a global context
Keynote by

  • Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety

Making the Transformation possible: Leading the way and motivating others
The role of national contributions to global sustainability
Panel discussion with

  • Jochen Flasbarth
  • Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner
  • Dr. Leena Srivastava, Vice Chancellor, TERI University, New Delhi, India
  • Dr. Heinrich Bottermann, Secretary General German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU)
  • Prof. Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Co-Chair Club of Rome

Research Prize Transformative Science
Handover to the Wuppertal Institute, which will award the prize over the coming five years

  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Barner, President of the Donors’ Association of the DFG
  • Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind, President of the Wuppertal Institute

City of Change? – Welcome to Wuppertal

  • Andreas Mucke, Mayor of Wuppertal
  • Prof. Dr. Lambert T. Koch, Headmaster of the Bergische Universität Wuppertal
  • Prof. Dr. Uwe Schneidewind

Moderation: Heike Leitschuh

14.00 Lunchtime snack with regional specialities

After the snack, you can join one of three panel discussions: Michael Kopatz presents and discusses his new book "Ökoroutine. Damit wir tun, was wir für richtig halten" ("Ecological routine. Helping us do what we think is right"); three companies located in Wuppertal, namely Wuppertaler Stadtwerke WSW, Barmenia, and Radprax, show how they make utopia possible and implement sustainability into their business; and the challenges and chances of "national nature heritage areas" in urban regions are discussed on the example of the Wahner Heide. Please note that the panels will be held in German.

Alternatively, you could explore Wuppertal and join the afternoon programme in the Arrenberg quarter or at "Utopiastadt",  a culture and creativity cluster at Mirker Bahnhof. Ideas and projects for sustainable urban development are developed there, offering visitors a café, FabLab, a trade station and bicycle rental service as well as plenty of exhibition room for more than 100 artists.

This ceremony is framed by two international scientific conferences taking place in Wuppertal that week: The annual meeting „International Sustainability Transitions (IST)“ of the „Sustainability Transitions Research Network“ (STRN), which the Wuppertal Institute and the University of Wuppertal are hosting, and the annual meeting of the „Low Carbon Society-Research-Network“, also hosted by the Institute.

Utopiastadt at Mirker Bahnhof
“Utopiastadt” at Mirker Bahnhof, which is no longer in use as a train station, has transformed the location into a place for events, but most of all into a community centre. Photo: Olaf Joachimsmeier

Afternoon: Welcome to Wuppertal, the city of utopias

Wuppertal is the city of economic, technological and social utopias. It’s the birthplace of the industrial revolution and a location inspired by Friedrich Engels and Johannes Rau. The Schwebebahn (overhead railway) was one of the first means of travel that was individually designed for a city. The utopian esprit still runs through the valley, may that be at the “Nordbahntrasse”, the climate-neutral Arrenberg quarter, “Utopiastadt” at Mirker Bahnhof or when it comes to sustainability in committed companies located here.

Utopias can become reality – that’s almost tangible when walking through the Arrenberg quarter. It is here that you can see residents, companies and creative minds as a team develop new and attractive ways of living together. They invite you together with the organisation “Aufbruch am Arrenberg” and the Wuppertal Institute to explore their quarter and get to know projects leading the way towards a climate-neutral Arrenberg quarter in the afternoon.

The Restaurant-Day-Special offers you the chance to experience the quarter through its culinary variety; small and non-corporate “One-Day-Restaurants” open for you.

Evening: Party at Villa Media

We invite all anniversary guests to a big windup party in the Villa Media.

Be a Part of it / Register

If you want to join us for the celebration, please register using this registration form.

Just fill it out and mail or fax it to us by 15 July. We are looking forward to celebrating with you!

Supported by

Supporters, sponsors
This extensive agenda is only possible due to financial support. A variety of companies from Wuppertal have already agreed to support the anniversary with all its events financially.


Luisa Lucas
Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie
Tel.: +49 (0)202 2492-292
Fax: +49 (0)202 2492-108