You're invited to the European Public Policy Conference!

Zoom call screenshot with 13 conference organisers and dark blue text on light green background "Join us for the 2021 European Public Policy Conference"
Hertie School student organisers of the 2021 EPPC

The student-run conference on sustainable development is taking place from 23-25 April and will focus on the circular economy.

We warmly invite you to take part in the annual European Public Policy Conference (EPPC) from 23-25 April, an event entirely run by Hertie School students! Not only can you get to know the topics that drive our students, but you can also take part in many interesting discussions, workshops and events related to sustainable development. This year’s theme is “Coming full circle: Transitioning away from linear consumption.” Participation in all events is free of charge!

Events and schedule

The 2021 conference will kick off on 23 April with a keynote address by André Confiado, an international sustainable development professional from the United Nations Environment Programme, followed by a screening and Q&A with the director of the Oscar-nominated film Honeyland.

The two-and-a-half-day programme also includes workshops and discussions on:

  • How digitalisation can bring about circularity and get rid of waste in the economy
  • How emerging start-ups and companies working and investing in sustainable development sector can help bring about change and meet the Sustainable Developoment Goals
  • Circularity and global trade in Latin America
  • Sustainable cities – how can we make our cities tackle waste sustainably?
  • The product lifecycle: How products are made and how they generate waste

You can register for the conference and view the full schedule here.

Normally an in-person event that takes place in a different city each year, this year’s edition of the EPPC will be 100% virtual, allowing for anyone across the globe to tune in. We talked to MPP first-year student Diksha Choudhary (Class of 2022), who is responsible for outreach, about the upcoming conference – including how it was organised and how future students can get involved.

Tell us about yourself and the role that you play in the organisation of this year’s EPPC.

My name is Diksha Choudhary and I am from India. I am a first year MPP student and my core specialisation would be in sustainable development, energy and urban climate action. I am part of the logistics and communications team for the 2021 European Public Policy Conference, and in addition to handling a number of different tasks, my main role is to liaise with the Hertie School and ensure that our voice reaches more people.

What is the European Public Policy Conference?

The EPPC was started in 2008 and is a student-run initiative supported by the philanthropic IPLI Foundation. Hertie School students, especially the first years, organise an annual conference that brings together policymakers, stakeholders, and students. It’s a platform for current and future leaders to come together and have an open discussion about sustainable development and other issues central to Europe.

How did you organise this year’s virtual conference?

Since its inception, each year the conference has always taken place in different cities outside of Berlin. In 2020, the pandemic prevented the conference from happening. This year, because we were far more prepared for it to be online, the organising committee started meeting in September/October. We were 16 people who didn’t even know each other, but we shared similar values and interests in topics of development and were motivated to take this project forward. We had many conversations online, and it was challenging at first simply because we didn’t know each other and we were in different countries at the time. But because we started early and were ready to adapt to changes, we’ve become a very well-oiled machine – with sub-groups that take care of logistics, communications, content, workshops, guest speakers and panellists. We’ve also become good friends throughout the process!

What will participants get out of the conference?

I think it is especially important for students, myself included, to understand exactly how things currently work at the socio-political and environmental level – on issues regarding digitalisation, waste generation and global trade, for example – because things aren’t just going to happen for us. In five to 10 years, we’re going be the ones making the decisions.

The EPPC is open to and relevant for students and young professionals working in all sectors. For those who want to be entrepreneurs, for example, the conference will help build a consciousness around which field they might want to build their businesses in and what they can do for a better society. Since our events are open to everyone, it’s also an opportunity to network with students from other universities and from other interest areas.

How did you personally get involved with the EPPC?

Aside from having organised conferences before, I always wanted to work on something related to sustainable development, a topic very close to my heart considering I come from one of the most polluted cities in the world (Delhi is one of the biggest waste generators, so it’s a very personal topic for me). When I found out there was a conference like this, I thought about what I could do to help make it happen, and what I could get out of it myself: What can I learn from other countries, and how are other decision-makers doing it? I wanted to know what was happening in other parts of the world so that I can take what I learn with me whenever I go back home.

Also, because we were in a digital classroom, I thought this would be a really great opportunity for me to break the ice and get to know other people in my cohort, to make new friends and think beyond the classroom setting. I thought this was a great opportunity to interact with and learn from my peers, and that’s exactly how it turned out.

What would you say to future students interested in getting involved, and why is the EPPC relevant to those coming from outside of Europe?

If someone has chosen to come to Hertie and to Berlin, that person might already have some sort of interest in understanding how European policymaking happens. How is policy happening in the city you’re living in? In the country you’re living in? In this regard, it’s fair to call it the European Public Policy Conference.

However, Hertie and the EPPC are all about diversity, and we want to listen to different perspectives. For example, we try to take care of balance when it comes to gender and the countries and cities people come from in our panels. There’s a reason why we have a panel specifically for Latin American countries because we want to hear these voices. Coming from the Global South, this was personally very important for me. We don’t want to be in an echo chamber and not know about things that are happening beyond Germany or Europe. So while it may be called the European Public Policy Conference, we’re also aware that we live in a globalised world and something that impacts one country will impact another as well.

Anyone, not just Europeans, can be a part of the EPPC. What matters is that you have the zeal, enthusiasm and a certain amount of interest in sustainable development objectives in your life. You just need to be motivated and adaptable, and respect that people are from different countries and have different experiences. Moreover, you should be prepared to work hard alongside your studies. It’s a lot of hard work if you want it to succeed, but it’s a lot of fun at the same time!


Register for the European Public Policy Conference and view the event schedule here. Participation is free of charge.

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