INTERFACES and the four regional projects, COINS, DecLaRe, InfoRange and Minodu came together at the Tropentag Conference from 20 to 22 September in Berlin. Highlight was the pre-conference workshop organised by INTERFACES to discuss under which conditions research is most successful in providing innovations in sustainable land use in Sub-Sahara Africa.
The project teams and the over 50 workshop participants received a warm welcomed by Mrs Pia Seidel from the German Ministry for Research and Education (BMBF), who encouraged synergies through leveraging platforms such as conferences to delve into discussions with multi-partner projects. After introductory presentations by the five projects on their current state of work, the floor was opened up for a panel discussion, in which the project leaders as well as Dr Dirk Schories from the DLR-PT, shared their experiences on researching sustainable land management in sub-Saharan Africa.
The panel discussion rolled over into World Café sessions for all workshop participants to discuss specifically on co-production of knowledge, gender-sensitivity and social inclusion, engagement practices, science communication and knowledge management, as well as on supporting research design. The key take away message is to engage local stakeholders throughout the entire research process, as early as from funding application all the way through to outreach. Targeted communication through innovative forms should reflect the priorities set by African stakeholders, taking indigenous knowledge, cultural values and environmental specificities into account.
After the intense three days of discussions and research exchange in Berlin with over 1,000 participants from 84 countries, filled with plenaries, oral sessions and poster presentations, interactions will continue in Bonn with the INTERFACES team. Dr David Anaafo from the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), who is also an INTERFACES team member, travelled not only for the conference in Berlin, but also for an extended research stay. In the following weeks, further internal and external meetings are organised, starting with two workshops on stakeholder mapping and theories of change.