Previous Conferences

ClimateExistence 2016

We live in a world shadowed by the ongoing climate change crisis. This crisis is often conveyed using numbers and figures – rather than stories of human experiences. The changes proposed are often focused on economic or technological solutions – rather than moral or psychological aspects. Very little is said about the need to question our lifestyles, worldviews and relationships with the more-than-human world, in our response to climate change.

This is the third time The Sigtuna Foundation and CEMUS come together to host the Climate Existence conference. With this undertaking, we wish to create a transdisciplinary conversation that challenges how we talk and think about our role as humans in an era of climate change and ecological unravelling. The conference will also be an exploration of the interface between the worlds of academia and art, inviting a wide range of contributions that open up new ways of relating to the predicament we find ourselves in.

In short: We want to address how the current climate crisis relates to what is at the very core of our existence: to consider Climate Existence.

When: April 6-8, 2016.

Where: The Sigtuna Foundation, Sigtuna.

How: Register by March 23 at

Final program for the ClimateExistence Conference April 6-8, 2016:


Videos, media coverage, presentations and other documentation from Climate Existence 2016

More pictures, short films and other documentation can also be found on the Live-updates conference page.

Keynote Address: ArtCOP21 – a global cultural movement on climate change, April 6
David Buckland, International Director, Cape Farewell.
Recording by Tamarack Media Cooperative,


Extreme Dialogue on Climate Existence, April 6
Eva Bakkeslett, artist, filmmaker and activist; Hans Liljenström, Professor of Biometrics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Director of Agora for Biosystems; Andrea Nightingale, Professor and Chair of Rural Development in the Global South at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; conversation hosted by Jakob Grandin, CEMUS.
Recording by Tamarack Media Cooperative,


Armchair conversation, April 7
David Abram, cultural ecologist, philosopher and writer; Dr. Antje Jackelén, Archbishop, Church of Sweden; Dougald Hine, Riksteatern and the Dark Mountain Project.


Panel conversation: Looking back and moving forward – climate, existence and the power of engagement, April 8
Isabella Lövin, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation, journalist and writer; Lisa Färnström, theatre director currently working with the Swedish National Touring Theatre; Bengt Gustafsson, Professor in Astrophysics Uppsala University; Conversation host: Malin Östman, CEMUS.


Keynote Address #2: Being able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise: Artistic engagement in an age of Climate fear
Jan van Boeckel, artist-educator, researcher and filmmaker

[Download powerpoint presentation]

De leder konstens gröna våg, SVT Nyheter Kultur

Kreativ Klimatfriktion, UNT Debatt

Tar större grepp om klimatfrågan, Sigtunabygden

Isbjörnar och pingviner inför klimatkonferens i Sigtuna, Sveriges Radio, P4 Uppland

Ärkebiskopen och biståndsministern till Climate Existence 2016 i Sigtuna

Ärkebiskopen och biståndsministern lyfter klimatfrågan på internationell konferens i Sigtuna

En reflektion över Climate Existence, Pella Thiel, Transition Sweden

Tack, Climate Existence Conference och alla drömmare, Alex&Therese

Guests and Contributors

A selection of guest and contributors to ClimateExistence 2016. For information about all contributors, see the final program.

David Abram [Cultural Ecologist, Philosopher and Performance Artist/US]

davidabramDavid Abram – cultural ecologist, philosopher, and performance artist – is the founder and creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics. He is the author of The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (Pantheon/Vintage), for which he received the international Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction. An accomplished storyteller and sleight-of-hand magician who has lived and traded magic with indigenous sorcerers in Indonesia, Nepal, and the Americas, David lectures and teaches widely on several continents. His essays on the cultural causes and consequences of ecological disarray have appeared often in such journals as Orion, Parabola, Environmental Ethics, Tikkun, Wild Earth, Resurgence, and The Ecologist, as well as in numerous edited anthologies. David’s work engages the ecological depths of the imagination, exploring the ways in which sensory perception, poetics, and wonder inform our relation with the animate earth. Named by the Utne Reader as one of a hundred visionaries currently transforming the world, he has been recipient of numerous honors and fellowships. David’s is also profiled in the recent book Visionaries: the 20th Century’s 100 Most Inspirational Leaders (Chelsea Green Press, 2007).

Eva Bakkeslett [Artist, Film-maker and Activist/NORWAY]

evabakkeslettEva Bakkeslett is an artist, filmmaker and gentle activist, exploring the potential for social change through gentle actions and subtle mind-shifts. Her socially engaged practice often combines film, participatory events and workshops; She frequently collaborates with other artist, activists, scientist and engaged people in her work. Eva creates spaces and experiences that challenge our thinking and unravel new narratives that inspire and engage us to make sense of and embody sustainable and thriving ways. By revealing and reclaiming forgotten or rejected practices, concepts and cultures her work directs our attention to the patterns that connect us to the earth as a living organism.

Jan van Boeckel [Artist-educator, Researcher and Film-maker/The Netherlands & Estonia]

janvanboeckelJan van Boeckel is a passionate artist-educator, engaged researcher and film-maker. Currently, he is professor in art pedagogy at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn. Previously, Jan was program director in design theory at the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik. Together with others, Jan established the international research group on arts-based environmental education at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki. In 2013, he presented his doctoral thesis: At the Heart of Art and Earth. Educated as an anthropologist, one of Jan’s areas of interest and concern are the world-views and environmental philosophies of indigenous peoples. Together with film-making group ReRun Productions, he produced a series of documentaries on this theme, as well as films on philosophers such as Jacques Ellul and Arne Naess, who provide a critical analysis of the Western way of life. These films include, among others: The Earth is Crying (1987), It’s Killing the Clouds (1992), The Betrayal by Technology (1992), and The Call of the Mountain (1997). Jan van Boeckel has lived for some years in Hällefors, Sweden, where he was an art teacher to both children and adults, and consultant on international cultural projects. Between 2004 and 2006, he worked as head of communications at the Netherlands Centre for Indigenous Peoples in Amsterdam. Inspired by indigenous peoples’ cultures, his own engagement in art and art teaching, and the experience of living very near wilderness in Sweden, Jan’s interest has crystallized into developing artistic approaches to connect with “the more-than-human-world.” He initiates activities that facilitate participants to connect and learn with nature through open-ended artistic process. One of his research interests is the tension between trying to open the senses whilst coping with the enormity of the current ecological crisis – an issue all the more pressing when engaging in arts-based environmental education activities with children. Jan van Boeckel works with organizations such as the Foundation for Deep Ecology, the International Forum on Globalization and the Eco-Art Network. He has taught at Schumacher College in the UK and at Spring College in the Netherlands. and

David Buckland [Artist, Film-maker, Creator and Director of Cape Farewell/UK]

davidbucklandHis artwork is included in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Michael Wilson Collection, London. In 2000, Buckland created and now directs the Cape Farewell international foundation – Climate is Culture. In 2014 he and Cape Farewell initiated with French partners COAL, ArtCOP21, a global festival of cultural activity on climate change – over 400 cultural climate ‘events’ taking place in over 46 countries. Buckland curated ‘eARTh’ for the Royal Academy 2009, U-n-f-o-l-d for Cape Farewell 2010, Carbon 12 for Paris 2012, Carbon 13 for the Ballroom, Marfa Texas 2012, and Carbon 14 for the Royal Ontario Museum 2014. He produced the films ‘Art from the Arctic’ 2006 for the BBC and ‘Burning Ice’ for Sundance, 2010. In Buckland’s art, he works to enable events to be created, performed and then recorded through lens based technology. The recorded information is then transformed and manifested through process to have the physicality and emotional presence of a tactile object., and

Peter Hagerrot, Emilia Rekestad, David Bennett and Pella Thiel [Transition Network Sweden]

meet the ancestors

Transition Network Sweden is a part of the international Transition Network. We inspire, encourage, connect, support and train communities as they self-organise around the Transition model, creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions. Inner transition is an important part of the transition model, as we believe that the challenges we face are not just caused by a mistake in our technologies but as a direct result of our world view and belief system. The impact of information about the state of our planet can generate fear and grief – which may underlie the state of denial that many people are caught in. The work of inner transition addresses these issues to strengten our ability to cope and to act as agents of change. Emilia Rekestad, David Bennett, Peter Hagerrot and Pella Thiel are educators and members of the core group of Transition Network Sweden.


Dougald Hine [Writer, Dark Mountain Project/SWEDEN & UK]

dougaldhineI’m a writer who gets easily distracted. I sometimes start organisations as a way to avoid finishing books. I grew up in Darlington, worked as a radio journalist in Sheffield, got dragged to London by an internet startup and was eventually rescued by a Swedish woman who I met at a festival in the middle of the forest. These days, I spend part of my time working with Riksteatern, the Swedish national theatre, as leader of artistic and audience development. I also help run Dark Mountain, the journal and network that Paul Kingsnorth and I started in 2009.

Vincent J. F. Huang [Artist, Art Curator and Scholar/TAIWAN]

vincentjfhuang2Vincent J.F. Huang received his MFA from Gray’s School of Art in Scotland. Huang has been selected as the artist-in-residence by the AIR Program of Pier—2 Art District at Kaohsiung (Taiwan), Duolun MoMA in Shanghai (China), Artspace in Sydney (Australia).

Since 2010, Huang began working with Tuvalu, a small South Pacific nation island that is facing the risk of becoming uninhabitable due to sea level rise. He represented Tuvalu as an official delegate to participate in the UNFCCC COP 18 in Doha and COP 19 in Warsaw, respectively. In the following year, Huang represented Tuvalu at the 55th and 56th Venice Biennale and took part in The Arctic Circle led by The Farm Foundation for the Arts & Sciences (FFAS). His international engagement through artistic expression eventually earned him domestic recognition as he received the 7th Presidential Cultural Award in 2013, the most prestigious cultural award in Taiwan.

Huang’s eco – art projects have extended to many parts of the world: UK, USA, Germany, Italy, China, Australia, Middle East, South America, Tuvalu and Taiwan.

Antje Jackelén [Church of Sweden/SWEDEN]

Antje Jackelén is the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden since 2014 and was before that bishop of the diocese of Lund. Dr. Jackelén is also an Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, USA, where she taught and was director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science 2001-2007. From 2008-2014 president of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology. Her research interests include interdisciplinary work at the intersection of religion and science, the role of religion in society and Trinitarian theology.
Author of Time and Eternity (2005), The Dialogue between Religion and Science (2004), Gud är större (God is greater, 2011) and numerous articles, published in various languages.
Her international engagements include the office of Member of the Council of the Lutheran World Federation.

Josefin Lindh, Ingrid M. Rieser and Felicia Sjögren [The Bigger Picture Network/SWEDEN]

thebiggerpictureThe Bigger Picture Network is a network for artists who want to see their work in “the bigger picture” of the massive challenges facing humanity. The Bigger Picture helps bring together artists, works as a platform for projects and events, and strives to explore sustainability issues in new ways through art. At the conference, members of the network will show their new fictional short film, a story from a future that is heavily impacted by climate change.

Isabella Lövin [Minister for International Development Cooperation and Honorary Doctor SLU/SWEDEN]

isabellalovinAcclaimed journalist and author until 2009. An elected Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2014. A leading member of the Greens in the Fisheries and Development Committees, involved in the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, also special rapporteur on the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy and the role of the EU in fighting illegal fisheries globally. Since 2015, co-chair of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding.

Andri Snær Magnason [Writer/ICELAND]

andrisnaermagnasonAndri Snær Magnason is an Icelandic writer, born in Reykjavik on the 14th of July 1973. His most recent book Tímakistan won the Icelandic literary Award and is nominated for the Nordic Council Children’s book Award. Andri has written novels, poetry, plays, short stories, essays and CD’s. He is the codirector of the documentary film Dreamland. His work has been published or performed in more than 30 countries. His novel, LoveStar was nominated for the Philip K Dick Award 2013, was chosen “Novel of the year” by Icelandic booksellers and received the DV Literary Award. His children’s book, The Story of the Blue Planet, was the first children’s book to receive the Icelandic Literary Prize and has been published or performed in 26 countries. The Story of the Blue Planet received the Janusz Korczak Honorary Award 2000 the West Nordic Children’s Book Prize 2002 and The Green Earth Honor Award 2013. The play from the story has been performed in theaters in Finland, Swiss, Iceland and Canada. Andri has collaborated with various artists in the fields of activism, architecture and theater – mostly with a band called múm. Andri has been active in the fight against the destruction of the Icelandic Highlands. His book – Dreamland – a Self Help Manual for a Frightened Nation takes on these issues. Dreamland has been published in English, Danish, German, Spanish and Japanese and has become a feature length documentary film. Footage from Dreamland and an interview with Andri can be seen in Charles Ferguson’s Oscar winning documentary – Inside Job. Andri can be contacted here: Andri Magnason is the winner of the Kairos Award of 2010 – granted by the Alfred Toepfer institute in Hamburg.

Andrea Nightingale [SLU/SWEDEN]

andreanightingaleAndrea Nightingale is a Geographer by training and presently Chair of Rural Development in the Global South at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala, Sweden. Her current research interests include: climate change adaptation and transformation debates; public authority, collective action and state formation; and feminist work on emotion and subjectivity in relation to theories of development, collective action and cooperation. She previously worked at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and the University of Edinburgh, Geography, School of GeoSciences, Scotland.

Brian Palmer [Uppsala University/SWEDEN & US]

brianpalmerBrian Palmer is a social anthropologist and scholar of religion at Uppsala University in Sweden. Previously he held the Torgny Segerstedt Guest Professorship at Gothenburg University, and before that he taught at Harvard. His courses there on civic courage and engagement attracted as many as 600 students per term, and in 2002 Brian was awarded the Levenson Prize as Harvard’s best lecturer. Brian’s latest book, written together with Ola Larsmo, is 101 historiska hjältar (101 historical heroes). It was published in October, 2013 by Historiska media (Lund); a softcover version is also available, and English and Korean editions are being prepared.

Alex Tael and Therese Lindqvist Persson [The band “Alex och Therese”/SWEDEN]

alexochthereseOur music has a spiritual perspective on life and man as a starting point. We look upon man as a spiritual beeing. And we contemplate if not many of today´s problem in the world is due to the modern man´s poor contact with his/-er spirit and spirituality. When it comes to climate change and the climate movement we believe that a global and political shift is of great importance, but also an individual mental/spiritual shift. The one does not exclude the other. Further, we believe that a spiritual perspective on life goes hand in hand with care for the earth and an equitable distribution of the earth´s resources – for spiritual occupation such as creativity, making of music, and contemplation has the capacity to dispose man into gentleness. This is our experience. Our music can be described as straightforward and stripped down; a woman and a man with an acoustic guitar each and singing. Sometimes we play different drums and sing. The lyrics, which are in Swedish, deal with timeless subjects such as love, happiness, grief, and despair, but often they are set in a contemporary context. Since a few years back we live in Skattungbyn, Dalarna. Here we try to live a life in simplicity close to nature and practice our philosophy of life.

Doreen Stabinsky [College of the Atlantic and Uppsala University/US]

doreenstabinskyDoreen actively researches and writes about the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security, and on the emerging issue of loss and damage from slow onset impacts of climate change. She also serves as advisor to a number of governments and international NGOs on issues related to agriculture and loss and damage in ongoing negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Doreen also closely follows international negotiations on biosafety and is a current member of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Risk Assessment and Risk Management under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. She has represented various NGOs and the College of the Atlantic in numerous intergovernmental forums, including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, and the World Trade Organization. She has also held positions with and advised non-governmental organizations on topics related to genetic engineering and agriculture, including ten years as an agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace. She is co-editor, with Stephen Brush, of the book Valuing local knowledge: indigenous people and intellectual property rights. and

Call for Contributions
The Climate Existence conference aims to create interesting and meaningful meetings between and within the worlds of academia, civil society and art. We therefore have invited contributions to the conference in a variety of formats, including:

  • Art-pieces (installation, performance, audio-visual, short-story, music etc.)
  • Academic Papers
  • Proposals for workshops and other sessions

The review committee has now made their final selection and have included accepted contribution in the conference program, available here:

ClimateExistence 2010


CEMUS and the Sigtuna Foundation welcome you to Climate Existence November 1-3, 2010, in Sigtuna Sweden.

What are the existential aspects of the climate crisis? What do our values and visions have to do with the current crisis? Who are we as humans in this age of environmental crisis and what is our responsibility? Do we need to change the way we perceive nature and our role in society?

Programme ClimateExstence 2010
Programme Folder ClimateExistence 2010

Documentation and media from the conference
Learning horizontally instead of drilling Sara Jeswani, SWEDEN.SE/BLOGS

Existentiella aspekter av klimatfrågan Hannes Kjörnsberg, Fria Tidningen

Hjälp miljörörelsen förnya sig! Sara Jeswani, Effekt klimatmagasinet

Harald Welzer: Vi stjäl från framtiden Sara Jeswani, Effekt klimatmagasinet

On Being an American Troubadour at the Swedish Climate Change Conference Alan AtKisson, Words & Music Blog

About the conference
On November 1-3, 2010, CEMUS, The Centre for Environment and Development Studies and CSD Uppsala, Uppsala Centre for Sustainable Development, along with The Sigtuna Foundation are welcoming you to a conference dealing with the underlying moral, existential and psychological aspects of human and societal responses to climate change. This will be a follow up Conference to a similar successful venture held in Sigtuna in 2008. The conference is going to run for 3 days and during that time we will not only be listening to inspiring keynotes and participating in rewarding workshops but also be listening to poetry, music and enjoying social events.

Today, most of us know that climate change poses a real and serious threat to our societies. Information reaches us in the shape of numbers and facts in new scientific reports and in media coverage of political meetings and international summits. The message: we need to make deliberate changes in the way we live our lives in order to minimize our environmental impact.

But the changes proposed are often focused on the implementation of economic or technologic solutions and a lot of emphasis is being put on the physical and infrastructural aspects of this new challenge humanity faces. Very little is said about a need to challenge our minds, mindsets and lifestyles to respond to climate change or the moral, ethical and psychological aspects of the changes needed.

KlimatExistens 2008


Välkommen till konferensen KlimatExistens 2008!

Under tre dagar i mars kommer vi att tillsammans med intresserade deltagare och spännande föreläsare få möjlighet att diskutera och fördjupa vår förståelse för vår tids viktigaste ödesfråga: klimatfrågan.

Uppmärksamheten kring klimatfrågan har under de senaste åren intensifierats och seglat upp som den kanske viktigaste utmaningen på den globala agendan. I samhällsdebatten betonas ofta hur vi som individer kan påverka utvecklingen i en mer hållbar riktning genom en förändrad konsumtion, exempelvis genom att byta ut våra glödlampor eller genom att köpa en miljöbil. Men är denna typ av åtgärder en långsiktig lösning på klimatproblematiken? Och är klimatfrågan i grunden verkligen en teknisk och ekonomisk fråga?

Sällan analyseras vilka bakomliggande värderingar, drivkrafter och tankesystem som lett fram till och ligger till grund för den ohållbara och historiskt sett helt unika resursförbrukning vi ser idag. Dessa centrala aspekter förtjänar att lyftas fram och tas i beaktande då man söker lösningar på det globala dilemma vi står inför. Kan det vara vårt sätt att tänka och relatera till vår omgivning som utgör det största hindret för att nå ett hållbart samhälle?

KlimatExistens 2008 program

KlimatExistens 2008 kulturprogram