The last session has ended, posters and flowers have quickly been taken away: Tropentag 2016 is finally over. It’s been three intense days filled with uncountable posters, lively discussions in public and private, fascinating and more or less mass compatible presentations, music, food and lots of coffee. Even dancing!
Many questions have been asked, but some important ones, I must say, have been left unanswered. “What are the next steps to take?” was one of my favourites, asked by Sara Kaweesa, at the end of the closing session, hoping to get a take home message, something to hold on to, so that this conference could actually help to take a step towards a more sustainable and fair world, and not just have been a gathering of many scientific people wanting to talk extensively about their researches and hoping to make a good impression on certain project funding ministries and donors. As Michael Hauser, who by the way together with Ms. Kaweesa has done an impressive job moderating during this conference, has stated, we’ll need to meet again next year, look back at our work and see if we have been true to our many nice, promising words about sustainability, solidarity, food security, fair distribution of resources etc etc.
I don’t want to believe that we’ve all been sitting in refrigerated lecture halls without sunlight for three days to go home and do nothing about everything we heard these past days. And certainly many don’t intend to be idle, but to prove that, we, all together, would need to start to make a REAL change so that in another ten years we don’t need to bother still with the same questions about world hunger and poverty that are already now more than 20 years old, and nothing has noticeably changed – rather the contrary!
But I don’t want to be too pessimistic either. It has been a great experience to take part in this Tropentag which I think is a good place for many young students in this world to come together, meet and exchange with older and more experienced experts and to be given the opportunity to be part in the process that is now creating our future. Even though we might like the idea of sharing a common vision about this future, personal subjective and completely unscientific research has not confirmed this hypothesis. Too many personal interests who unsurprisingly often have a lot to do with money are too often in conflict with our seemingly noble ideals. So we need to work on this to find out where to start.
Call me simplistic, or call me naïve. Or rather try to answer this question yourself: What is the next step you are going to take for a more solidary and fair world?