Welcome to Tropentag 2023!
Loud chatter, exciting voices and what feels like a perfect networking scene. This was the atmosphere in the room, as invited guests and participants filled up the hall for the opening ceremony of the Tropentag 2023 conference in Berlin, hosted by Humböldt University.
The programme began with opening speeches from the Heads of the Local organizing committee, Professor Dagmar Mithöfer from Humböldt University in Berlin, and Dr Stefan Sieber from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research). Once all the attendees had taken place, both speakers pointed out their excitement of being finally able to share this event with a present public after a few online editions. According to the projections, this edition is likely to be one with the highest number of registered attendees!
The opening ceremony continued with the presentation of the 2023 Hans H. Ruthenberg Award for Graduates by the chair of the Foundation Fiat Panis, Andrea Fadani. Based on the principles and commitment of the founding father (Hans H. Ruthenberg) to ending world hunger, The Foundation Fiat Panis promotes innovative projects of agricultural development-related and nutritional research and especially provides support to young academics who as part of their research, deals with providing solutions to the hunger problem (more details here). Winners of this year’s award briefly presented their research and they were nothing but inspiring. According to the jury, they had the elements of scientific excellence, applicability, and contribution to food security. A key highlight was the encouragement from the foundation to all participants to submit more applications as this year only had five applicants.
This year’s conference also had the privilege of welcoming very important dignitaries from society, including Cem Özdemir (Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Germany), Julia Von Blumenthal (President of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany) and Frank A. Ewert (Scientific director of ZALF Müncheberg, Germany). The Federal Minister highlighted particularly the role of women scientists and young people in achieving equitable food systems and in fulfilling the #SDGs. A fitting example was the effort placed by his ministry to involve young people in decision groups and in decision-making processes. Furthermore, he highlighted that all stakeholders need to work together towards making food production more efficient and making a world without Hunger possible.
During her speech, the President of Humboldt-Universität and chief host of this year’s conference Julia Von Blumenthal encouraged participants to greatly reflect on the theme of this year’s conference. She emphasized the need to globally; (i) transform food systems, (ii) strengthen the role of women in research and policy implementation and (iii) improve and advance the empowerment of small-scale farmers.
The concluding part of the welcome address was presented by Prof. Frank A. Ewert (Scientific director of The Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Germany). He presented the mission and hopes of the scientific community in delivering together with society, solutions for economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable agriculture. He also emphasised the need for a more effective science-policy interface and the crucial role they play in global environmental governance to identify risks and propose solutions.
After what was a very impressive plenary and opening session, then came the opportunity for various discussions and questions on issues ranging from Food systems, Agroecology, Sustainable land use and Science Policy.
The final highlight for participants of an already exciting and discussion-filled 2023 conference was the warming smiles given to them by a team of twelve energetic and vibrant young students from different universities around Europe (acting as reporters) as they walked on stage and were introduced by Folkard Asch (Professor at the University of Hohenheim and head of ATSAF e.V.,). Especially in an era of rampant misinformation, the young and diverse team of student reporters were excited to not only hone their skills in science communication and science journalism but to also effectively communicate in a clear and concise manner, findings from this year’s conference for the greater benefit of society.
On behalf of the team at ATSAF e.V., we wish you a good conference with fruitful deliberations, discussions and connections!