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Falling Walls 2021
Copyright: Falling Walls Foundation

Falling Walls 2021: Breaking the Walls of Old-School Trade Diplomacy
7 - 9 November 2021, Berlin

The Falling Walls Science Summit 2021 is going to take place as an in-person event again this year in Berlin, and for the sixth time a GDL member will get the chance to make another wall fall. This year GDL member Volkan Sezgin will get the unique opportunity to present his pitch on "Breaking the Walls of Old-School Trade Diplomacy" at the Grand Finale of the 2021 Falling Walls Lab on 7 November in Berlin.

Each year on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall the Falling Walls Lab Finale and the subsequent conference provide an opportunity to bring together brilliant thinkers from a multitude of fields. Promising scientists, entrepreneurs and young professionals from all over the globe present their ideas and breakthroughs – "the next walls to fall" – and the world’s leading minds discuss the contemporary challenges facing humankind and the newest achievements in their respective fields.

Following the COVID-19-related disruption to the global economies which pushed some economies into recession while others were strained by financial difficulties, most developed and emerging market economies strived to protect their economies and domestic markets by applying different types of trade-related restrictions. Marked by the pandemic the future of global trade relations now seems even more complicated than before. Volkan’s pitch aims to uncover new ways to shape old-fashioned, non-digital trade diplomacy, particularly after the pandemic.

According to Volkan, trade diplomacy should now be based more on digital (remote) trade fairs and conferences, and trade agreements, which lie at the heart of trade diplomacy, should focus on inserting digital aspects and seek ways to increase bilateral trade, particularly using digital technologies like blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to level up global trade in general. "Whether or not the COVID-19 pandemic will be over soon, rapid digitalisation requires a reformation of old-fashioned trade diplomacy," says Volkan.

Find out more about other GDL members who participated in the Falling Walls Lab before such as Ivana Petrov who pitched the GDL under the slogan "Breaking the Wall of Exclusive Diplomacy" in 2019 and Tarek Alsaleh who presented his reform idea of the aid sector "Breaking the Wall of Localising Aid" in 2018.

Further Events

Bled Strategic Forum, Aug 30 to Sep 2
GDL members Elif and Burak address the "Future of Europe"
rE-Connect amidst the pandemic, June 5 to 9
The GDL community met online to connect, collaborate and co-create.
Multilateralism Deconstructed
Three discussions examining status quo, vulnerabilities and opportunities.
Book Launch, January 29 at 3.30 pm
A compendium of essays has been published on the topic of the demographic dividend.
21st Foreign Policy Conference
GDL and the Boell Foundation cooperate on the occasion of the 21st Foreign Policy Conference.
European Diplomatic Programme
GDL members have trained young diplomats in communication, mediation and leadership
Bled Strategic Forum, August 31, 2020
GDL members host a virtual session on city diplomacy and the future of multilateralism
Gender Alliance Summit, August 26-28
Three days of interactive online sessions bringing together feminist across networks
Online GDL prE-Summit, May 10-30, 2020
A series of virtual formats bridging the waiting time for in person meetings in the GDL community
Envisioning the World of the Future
Three scenarios of global power balance in the post-COVID-19 world in 2030
1+1=17? Partnerships for the SDGs
What constitutes a strong partnership when what you reach for is a better world?
Global Leadership in the 21st Century
"Leadership is a matter of constant preparation and an exercise in day-to-day decisions"
Security Mission: Global Vision
A virtual fishbowl aimed at understanding global security threats requiring new ways of cooperation.
Inspiring Labs - then what?
GDL members, hosts and partners discuss how to move further with past Labs.
Co-creation - GDL in Action
At the prE-Summit GDL members started collaborative projects on three themes.
And now, what’s next?
A preview of the forthcoming regional GDL Labs in 2021.
City Diplomacy and the Future of Diplomacy
What role could city diplomacy play for the future of multilateralism?
Falling Walls Lab 2019: Walls in Diplomacy
Ivana Petrov presented a pitch about the importance of inclusive diplomacy
Bled Strategic Forum 2019
(Re)sources of (In)stability: GDL members hosted a Night Owl Session
GDL and the Fulbright Program
David Patrician and Juliana Figale presented "Being global citizens"
Federal Foreign Minister Maas focused on LAC
GDL members shaped the LAC initiative and the Future Affairs Berlin 2019
Workshop at the World Press Freedom Day 2019
Elizabeth Maloba and Patrick Mpedzisi discussed safety of women journalists
Online Safety of Women Journalists
UNESCO, Bosch Alumni Network and GDL co-create a session at OSCE conference
European Week of Regions and Cities
Egin Ceka discussed freedom, independence and plurality of media in EaP countries
City Diplomacy for Better EU Enlargement
GDL Members pitched their ideas at the European Parliament in Brussels
GDL selected for the first Paris Peace Forum
The GDL was one of 120 projects within the Space of Solutions at the 2018 Paris Peace Forum
Design Thinking for Public Policy
Uber & Co. vs. Taxis – Test driving Design Thinking in a real-world public policy challenge
Bled Strategic Forum 2018
How do we distinguish a fact from a perception or a myth? How do we bridge the divide?
Raising Awareness of Unconscious Bias
The Global Diplomacy Lab held a workshop at the UN Global Festival of Action
What will be the next wall to fall?
Elizabeth Maloba on how to fight youth unemployment at the Falling Walls Lab in Berlin
Climate Change Multi-stakeholder Diplomacy
The Global Diplomacy Lab at the German Pavilion during the COP23 in Bonn
Jasdeep Randhawa at the Climate Conference
Climate Action & Human Wellbeing at a Crossroad: Historical Transformation or Backlash?
40th Anniversary of the Brandt Commission
GDL Members pitched their visionary ideas to Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel
To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question!
The Global Diplomacy Lab at the Bled Strategic Forum 2017
Managing Diversity in a Time of Turmoil
The Global Diplomacy Lab at the Global Media Forum of Deutsche Welle in Bonn
Decoding Global Diplomacy
Fifth GDL Digital Series on 29 September, 6 & 12 October
Falling Walls Conference & Lab 2018
Tarek Alsaleh presented his pitch on how to break the Wall of Localising Aid
Creative Bureaucracy Festival 2018
Julia Kloiber and Nicola Forster represented the GDL at the Creative Bureaucracy Festival 2018
The Hague Digital Diplomacy Camp
An unconference about influence and diplomacy in a diffuse digital world
Love Out Loud GDL@re:publica 2017
Julia Kloiber speaks at re:publica about Collaboration in Civic Tech, Berlin, 8 May 2017
Open Situation Room in Bogota and Medellin
Reintegration Strategies for Internally Displaced Persons in Post-Conflict Colombia, 21 March 2017
Open Situation Room in Mumbai
Bridge over Troubled Waters: Achieving Water Security in India, 22 March 2017
Open Situation Room in Kathmandu
Technology and Community Presence to Prevent Catastrophes, 21 March 2017
Open Situation Room in Montreal
Leveraging Technology and Diplomacy: Creative Solutions to Humanitarian Crisis, 20 March 2017
Open Situation Room in Geneva
Creating Digital Trust and Engagement in Remotely Controlled Environments, 21 March 2017
Humanitarian Diplomacy Lab
A Series of Open Situation Rooms across the Globe with Pitch Night in San Francisco, March 2017
When Paul came over the Sea
Documentary #Pauloverthesea - Journal of an Encounter by GDL Member Jakob Preuss
Cities Combating Urban Poverty
HABITAT III - SODEM in partnership with GDL and FES Turkey, Quito 19 October, 2016
GDL Member at UN Summer Academy
United Actors Founder Susanne Salz joins UN Summer Academy in August 2016
Financing Global Education Opportunity
GDL member Amel Karboul speaks at UN General Assembly, September 2016
Embassy Lab on Future Diplomacy
GDL Side Event: Embassy Lab on Future Diplomacy, Berlin 7 October, 2016
Bled Strategic Forum, Slovenia 2016
GDL Side Event: Night Owl Session at Bled Strategic Forum, Slovenia 5 to 6 September, 2016
Strong GDL Representation at WRLF
World Responsilbe Leaders Forum of the BMW Foundation, 19 to 22 May 2016, Munich
GDL Member at Falling Walls Lab
Susanne Salz speaks at Falling Walls Lab in Berlin, November 2015
From United Nations to United Actors
GDL Side Event in New York, 12 October 2015

Volkan Sezgin

Volkan Sezgin is an economic adviser and senior economic specialist at the US Mission in Turkey. Prior to that, he worked as a senior experts at the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Turkey. In 2014, he was employed by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs as a National Expert in Professional Training (NEPT). Before that, he was an energy expert at the state-owned Turkish Energy Company (BOTAS).

Volkan holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in science and technology policy studies from the Middle East Technical University. He also holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Manchester and a PhD in economics from the University of Rome Tor Vergata. He was a visiting research fellow at the Department of Economics at the University of Cambridge and a Visegrad fellow at the Warsaw-based think tank, the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW).


Ivana Petrov (née Ponjavic)

Ivana is an experienced professional with more than a decade of work in the field of international projects, public administration, and civil society. She was engaged with the Global Diplomacy Lab, both as freelance project manager and an elected advisory council member.

She worked for the Government of the Republic of Serbia as Communications Officer to the Head of the Negotiating Team for the Accession of Serbia to the European Union. Prior to that, she was Public Relations and Project Manager at the European Movement in Serbia. She also led the media team of the international conference Belgrade Security Forum.

Ivana is a graduate of the Hertie School of Governance, Executive Master of Public Administration programme in Berlin, the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade with focus on international relations, and the Diplomatic Academy of Serbia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Tarek Alsaleh

“I give a little here, I give a little there and I keep a little for myself.”

A half-Syrian, half-German entrepreneur, Tarek Alsaleh has won lots of international awards and acclaim. He also changed the law in Syria to set up his own sports projects across the Middle East and beyond. Uniquely, the projects he started are now locally owned, creating new jobs and fostering youth leadership. Tarek’s projects have helped over 100,000 refugees, abused women and children with cancer and put the art form capoeira created by slaves in Brazil on the global humanitarian map.

Tarek has now set his sights on even greater goals – he wants to change the aid system and abolish the middlemen through innovation and tech so that local people receive more of the funding.


Learn more about his work in this blog post.

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