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Farhana Sultana Addresses European Parliament

July 14, 2023

The Maxwell School professor participated in a conference on climate and sustainability.

Farhana Sultana, professor of geography and the environment, was an invited speaker at the 2023 Beyond Growth conference hosted by the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. 

Farhana Sultana addresses parliament
Farhana Sultana, professor of geography and the environment, is shown on the screen during her address to the European Parliament.

The conference, held over three days in May, featured a diverse mix of 150 speakers who addressed various aspects of sustainability, economy and climate. Sultana spoke during the conference’s fourth plenary session, “Understanding the Biophysical Limits to Growth to Build an Economy that Respects Planetary Boundaries.” Her speech centered on the uneven impacts of capitalist economies on ecological resources and the Global South. 

“Being invited to speak at a plenary session at the European Parliament was an honor, as the platform enabled me to bring a Global South, anti-colonial, feminist voice into spaces that usually are largely Eurocentric,” Sultana said. “It was to decolonize dominant discourses around economic growth and international environmental/climate concerns, so I’m pleased that my talk was very well received by such a large audience of thousands.”

During her panel, Sultana shared her view that the Global South is disproportionately affected by the unsustainable hyperconsumption lifestyles of Europe and the U.S. She invited listeners to consider the exploitation that has been normalized within the global economy as a byproduct of capitalist overproduction, and how that negatively impacts climate. 

The Beyond Growth conference wasn’t the first time she was invited to speak in a policy-influencing space in Europe. In 2017, Sultana also had the opportunity to speak at the Vatican and meet Pope Francis. 

At Maxwell, Sultana teaches classes on climate justice, environment and development in the Global South, and the intersectionality of globalization and gender. She is the research director for environmental conflict and collaboration in the Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration. 

Sultana earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2007.

By Sophia Moore

Published in the Fall 2023 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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