Challenging colonial mindsets in the EU

A 2-hour webinar on how coloniality may undermine responses to planetary degradation, hosted by the European Commission

In October 2023, the European Commission's Research & Innovation Directorate co-hosted a remarkable online learning event with members of EUStaff4Climate on 'How are colonialism and eurocentrism undermining the response to the planetary emergency?' with high-quality contributions from a diverse range of speakers, including the DEAL Team's Andrew Fanning.

This must-watch session offers powerful vocabulary and insightful analyses that articulate how meeting Europe's climate and ecological commitments implies an urgent and uncomfortable need to undo the colonial mindsets still embedded within European institutions (and beyond).

For us at DEAL, the session deserves to be shared far and wide and we are grateful to the organisers for sharing the recording, which you can find embedded below. 

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The gathering was open to all European Commission staff and moderated with care by Thomas Arnold, Obhi Chatterjee, Anna Smedeby, and Alexandre Vaucher, with technical support from Jerome Spaans, all from the European Commission. It was attended by more than 250 people, indicating a widely held interest to grapple with the little-discussed and uncomfortable role of coloniality in EU affairs by staff members.

After some opening remarks, Vidya Shah presents how learning and leadership can unpack systems of oppression, including coloniality and cognitive imperialism. Yamina Saheb looks at sufficiency from a global perspective. Andrew Fanning shares a personal account of ways his heritage has been shaped by colonialism and insights on national responsibility for climate and ecological breakdown. The live talks are complemented by video contributions of Vanessa Nakate, Farhana Sultana and Jason Hickel on a Global South perspective towards COP 28, on climate coloniality and economic aspects of post-colonialism. The speakers then engaged in a wide-ranging and personal conversation about coloniality and climate justice, in response to questions from participants.

Find a breakdown of the agenda and speaker contributions below (with time-stamps) . Additional resources, including presentation slides and a detailed programme with valuable background readings are available on this event page prepared by the organisers.

Opening remarks and participant poll

  • Thomas Arnold, DG Research & Innovation (0:00-5:00
  • Obhi Chatterjee, DG Human Resources & Security (5:00-9:25)

Speakers and video contributions

Moderated Q&A and discussion

  • The speakers and moderators engage in a rich and wide-ranging collective discussion on how to confront and unravel colonial mindsets at personal and institutional levels, in response to questions raised by participants (1:23:30-1:59:30)

Closing remarks


This story was created by Andrew Fanning and Aimee Laurel at DEAL, with video content courtesy of the European Commission, DG Research and Innovation Knowledge for Sustainability Talks and EUStaff4Climate. Please do not re-post the video without proper attribution. We are grateful to the organisers for nurturing a safe space to hold this remarkably wide-ranging and insightful discussion on the role of coloniality within the Commission (and beyond), which deserves to be shared far and wide. With deep thanks to the speakers for sharing their excellent contributions, and to the 250+ participants who made time to attend and contribute.




    Allen Gunderson

    Victoria, BC Canada

    Transform high school & undergraduate education systems that support a doughnut economic model.


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