10.12.16 | From December 5 to 7, thirty researchers from Leibniz institutes discussed their works at the headquarters of the Leibniz Association in Berlin. The aim of the symposium was to give a forum to junior researchers from Leibniz institutes working on the intersection between environment and development.

The symposium opened with a presentation (followed by discussion) about environment, development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by Professor Matthias Kleiner, President of the Leibniz Association. As the SDG have been substantially expanded in comparison to the previous Millennium Development Goals, they are not only of great relevance for strictly development-oriented work, but also attain importance for the Leibniz Association as a whole.

Over the course of the event individual works of PhD students and post-docs took centre stage. The young researchers presented their papers which were then discussed by a reviewer from another institute within the Leibniz Association, who had the theoretical or methodological expertise and looked at the work from another domain. Aside from helping to improve the papers, the symposium also served as a network hub for the participating institutes.

The thematic and regional diversity of the papers presented was impressive. Some works examined the adaptation of small biogas plants by Pakistani famers or investigated the abilities to solve sustainability problems of fishermen in Chwaka Bay in Zanzibar. Other topics included the relationship between rainfall and conflict in Ethiopia or the role of costly peer punishment among farmers in Sumatra (Indonesia).

Helen Young, Professor of Nutrition, Livelihood and Conflict at TUFTs University, gave the keynote address, focusing on resilience of pastoralists, drawing on a huge variety of projects and research experience as well as showing very compellingly the synergies between “quali-quanti” approaches, necessary to provide convincing evidence.

The Leibniz Environment and Development Symposium (LEADS) was born out of cooperation between four institutes of the Environmental Sciences Section (Section E) of the Leibniz Association. The Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ), the Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), and the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB), saw the need and synergies of bringing Leibniz scientists together at the intersection of the environment and development. The symposium serves as an opportunity for young researchers to discuss their results with each other and established scientists and to form networks within the Leibniz Association and on n international scale.