International Germany Alumni Training Seminar on the Nexus of Biodiversity and Food Security
In September 2023, the participants of this year's International Germany Alumni Training Seminar at the TH Köln discussed the nexus between biodiversity and food security with a focus on species-rich tropical forests as core areas for sustainable agriculture. The highlight was the participation in the Tropentag 2023 in Berlin.
What happens when biological diversity continues to decline, leading to the loss of critical ecosystem functions and services essential for agriculture? Conversely, how can the preservation of biodiversity contribute to sustainable agriculture and food security?
Focus: tropical forests as core areas for sustainable agriculture.
These questions, i.e. the connection (nexus) between biodiversity and food security, were discussed by the participants of this year's International Germany Alumni Training Seminar at the TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences in September 2023. Led by the Institute for Technology and Resource Management in the Tropics and Subtropics (ITT) and financially supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 25 former students from different countries and postgraduate qualification programs focused on the topic "Nexus Biodiversity and Food Security: Species-rich Tropical Forests as Core Areas for Sustainable Agriculture." The group was composed of academics and practitioners who are well versed in the biodiversity-food security nexus and, in some cases, have relevant professional experience. At the final Tropentag conference in 2023, the participants were able to present the results of their work.
Training started in June 2023
In June 2023, participants came together online for input sessions to discuss the connection between biodiversity and food security, develop scenarios, and undertake video production training. During the in-person training phase at ITT in Cologne starting on September 12th, the results from the online phase were employed to create videos and posters, presenting the perspectives of various interest groups on these topics in open sessions. An alumni networking event provided participants with an opportunity to brainstorm ideas for future collaborative projects and strengthen their network in the field of biodiversity and food security.
Participation in Tropentag 2023
The highlight of the training seminar was the participation in the international and interdisciplinary Tropentag 2023 in Berlin, themed "Competing pathways for equitable food systems transformation: trade-offs and synergies."
Prior to the conference, the training participants were actively engaged in Berlin. Alongside two other alumni groups, they joined the DAAD welcome event on September 19th and took part in pre-conference workshops. On September 20th, they organized a workshop at Humboldt University Berlin in collaboration with organizers Dr. Claudia Raedig and Prof. Dr. Sabine Schlüter, both from TH Köln/ITT, focusing on "Integration of Stakeholder Perspectives in Science Communication." The alumni presented six videos showcasing best practices in biodiversity conservation in the home countries of the participants.
A lecture, given by Claudia Raedig and Sabine Schlüter, was also part of the program; the two co-authors of this lecture, Prof. Dr. Stefan Porembski (University of Rostock) and Prof. Dr. Udo Nehren (TH Köln), were unable to attend the Tropentag, but contributed significantly to the success of the seminar with their input lectures.
Professional Results and Intensive Exchange
Prof. Dr. Sabine Schlüter highlighted the active involvement of alumni and students, stating, "We are delighted that so many ITT alumni, doctoral candidates, ITT researchers, and 17 students from ITT's master's programs seized the opportunity to experience the atmosphere and opportunities of an international conference." Dr. Claudia Raedig was impressed by the group's achievements, saying, "The Tropentag in Berlin this year was a significant success for all members of our alumni group. In total, they presented 17 posters in various guided poster sessions and took advantage of the opportunity to connect and engage in intensive discussions with fellow researchers."
Conclusion of the Training Seminar
Towards the end of this year, participants will share their insights and experiences with stakeholders, concluding the alumni training. The seminar showcased innovative approaches to the urgent preservation of biodiversity for food security and sustainable agriculture. For the participants and the institute, it provides a promising outlook for future projects and collaborations in this field.
(Text: Silke Wiegand)
International Germany Alumni Training Seminar in Cologne and Berlin
In September 2023, the 25 Germany alumni from 20 different countries were finally able to meet in person at the TH Köln. Sandra Bellen (front center), Paola Saenz (front right), Annika Speckenwirth (2nd row center) and Sandra Avendaño contributed significantly to the success of the seminar through their tireless efforts (Image: Thi Thuy Hong Do)
Nach der Online-Phase konnten sich die 25 Deutschland-Alumni aus 20 verschiedenen Ländern endlich im September 2023 an der TH Köln treffen. Es war toll, sich persönlich kennenzulernen, und die Gruppen konnten ihre vorbereiteten Poster und Kurzvideos fertigstellen. (Image: Richard Nuse Sam)
During a hike in the Hardt Forest east of Cologne, the alumni could experience characteristics and challenges of a local forest ecosystem and then taste a regional tradition, the ‘Bergische Kaffeetafel’, at the ‘Naturfreundehaus’. (Image: Claudia Maria Marin Daza)
Short photo meeting in front of the Humboldt University Berlin at the international Tropentag Conference in-between sessions (Image: Claudia Maria Marin Daza)
Talk at the Tropentag Conference ‘Biodiverse resilient forest landscapes as engines for sustainable agriculture and food security’ held by Claudia Raedig and Sabine Schlüter. (Image: Thiago Sabatinelli Rodrigues)
The alumni group was reinforced with 17 students from the master programs of the ITT, who participated in workshops, guided poster sessions and visited sessions related to diverse aspects of tropical agriculture (Image: Lili Del Rocio Torres Cabezas)