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This is Brussels ! Urban answers to global challenges



Aitor Hernández-Morales (POLITICO Europe)

Welcome speech

Pascal Smet (Secretary of State of the Brussels-Capital Region),

André Sobczak (Eurocities),

Simon Boone (Brussels Studies Institute & Brussels Academy),

Fatima Zibouh (Brussels2030)

Introduction (video interview)

Saskia Sassen (Columbia University)


Philipp Rode (London School of Economics)

Housing in Brussels: Community Land Trust

Nele Aernouts (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Circular economy in Brussels: Sonian Wood Coop

Stephan Kampelmann (Université libre de Bruxelles)

Public space in Brussels: Decolonization

Yasmina Zian (University of Luxembourg)

Discussion panel

Philipp Rode, Nele Aernouts, Stephan Kampelmann, Yasmina Zian

Artistic performance

Pitcho Womba Konga with his guests Laryssa Kim and Karim Kalonji

Closing drink – Flagey’s second floor


Aitor Hernández-Morales is a policy reporter for POLITICO Europe, specialized in urban development, EU politics and Iberian Affairs; author of POLITICO’s Living Cities Global Policy Lab, a solutions-journalism look at Europeans’ relationships with the cities in which they live.


Saskia Sassen is Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and Co-Chairs the Committee on Global Thought. Sassen examines the complex socioeconomic changes that have contributed to globalization and shows that it has emerged in the wake of major changes in politics, trade, law, and citizen’s rights. She coined and popularized the concept of Global city in her 1991 work: The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo, reedited in 2001.







Philipp Rode is Executive Director of LSE Cities, an international centre at the London School of Economics that carries out research, graduate and executive education and outreach activities in London and abroad. Rode is also Associate Professorial Lecturer at the School of Public Policy. He is Co-Director of the LSE Executive MSc in Cities and Visiting Professor at University of St Gallen’s Institute for Mobility. Dr Rode has been leading interdisciplinary programmes in urban development and transport, sustainable urbanism and climate change, and city policy and governance at the LSE since 2003. Across his work, he is interested in multi-dimensional aspects of global urbanisation, sustainability and urban change.




Nele Aernouts is assistant professor of urban design and planning at the Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her research and teaching centre around the urban design, governance and planning of social and collective housing, with a specific focus on the way these arrangements are lived by disadvantaged or marginalized individuals, and their impact on a broader right to housing. Theoretically, her work is informed by debates on participatory planning, housing studies, and the commons.






Stephan Kampelmann is an ecological economist (PhD) with a long-standing passion for wood. As entrepreneur, he co-founded and developed the Urban Ecology Centre Brussels, the Amsterdam-based planning office OSMOS, and the Sonian Wood Coop. He also teaches urban economics at LoUIsE- Laboratory on Urbanism, Infrastructure and Ecologies – at the Faculty of Architecture of Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).







Yasmina Zian has a PhD in History from the Technische Universität Berlin and experience in the Brussels’ nonprofit sector as a research fellow. After working as a research associate at the CIERL (ULB), she recently joined the University of Luxembourg to pursue a post-doctorate. She is currently working as an independent researcher on the themes of anti-Semitism, provenance research, the decolonization of the public space and the restitution of cultural heritages from the colonial context. Between 2020 and 2022, she was part of the working group responsible for writing a report on the decolonisation of public space for the Brussels-Capital Region.






Pitcho Womba Konga is a rapper, producer and actor. In the 1980s he fled with his father Mobutu’s totalitarian regime and arrived in Belgium. Cut off from his roots, he is constantly reflecting on his identity, finding an outlet in his writing and in hip hop culture. Pitcho has released three solo albums and has performed all over the world. For this evening, he has prepared a performance with two special guests: Laryssa Kim (singer/composer), and Karim Kalonji (dancer/ actor).


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