International conferences as necessary academic activities for Ph.D students

Tran van Hiep, doctoral student of TUD at the ASEAN Bamboo congress, Philippines (© Tran van Hiep)

For Ph.D students, participating in an international conference is a vital academic activity because international conferences are great opportunities to not only expend the professional network but also share the results of the reseach with attendees from different countries and learn from them. I, Tran van Hiep, had a chance to participate in two international conferences in August and September 2019.

Firstly, the ASEAN Bamboo Congress was held to exchange information and share experiences among scientists, policy makers, and private and public stakeholders on bamboo and sustainable environment strategies within the ASEAN region. The conference was organized from 12 to 16 August in Iloilo City, Philippines, hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau. Four parallel sessions took place:

  • Adaptation to climate change through application and use of bamboo technologies
  • Bamboo as a significant resource for environmental sustainability
  • Bamboo as a valuable resource for inclusive development and economic stability
  • Bamboo advances on bamboo R&D and policy

Mr. Michel Abdie, France Ambassador from the World Bamboo Organization, is one of keynote speakers. His presentation titled “Adaptation to climate change through application and use of bamboo technologies” presented how climate change affects people, the environment and agriculture, and the important role of bamboo in socioeconomic, environment and climate change. The second keynote speaker, Mr. Brian Cohen, is a Global Programme Director of INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan) gave a presentation with a topic “Bamboo as significant resource for environmental sustainability”. His presentation focused on population growth and its impacts on the environment, natural resources, and forests. He also gave the audience an overview of the world’s bamboo resources, bamboo products, and role of bamboo in protecting soil erosion and CO2 certificates.

Oral presentation at the ASEAN bamboo congress (© Tran van Hiep)

There were 65 oral presentation and 15 poster presentation. My oral presentation “Upgrading of small and medium bamboo processing enterprises – the case of Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam”, co-authored by Prof. Jürgen Pretzsch (TU Dresden) and Prof. Dietrich Darr (Hochschule Rhein-Waal) was presented at the session of bamboo as valuable resource. My paper indicated current situation of small bamboo processing enterprises in Vietnam, and determined the key factors like credit access, technology, institutional conditions, and entrepreneur affecting bamboo enterprises upgrading. The ASEAN Bamboo Congress motivated me to discuss the the preliminary results of my ongoing research with bamboo scientists for reshaping my ideas as I continue with my thesis write up. Besides the scientific presentations, an exciting excursion to Maasin, Iloilo city was offered, for visiting bamboo processing companies.

The second conference was TROPENTAG – an international annual conference on research in tropical and subtropical agriculture, natural resource management and rural development. At the Tropentag 2019, from 17 to 19 September in Kassel in Germany, 726 participants from 74 countries were present, including policy makers, private stakeholders, and representatives from research institutes, universities, and development organizations. This year’s conference theme  was “Fill gaps and removing traps for sustainable resources development”.

Tran van Hiep presenting his poster on his PhD research (© Tran van Hiep)

The first keynote speaker, Tony Rinaudo from World Vision, Australia, was awarded the rights livelihood Award, also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. His presentation “Getting your assumptions right” indicated the important role farm system for conservation with an example of farmers in Niger. He inspired the participants to think about farmer managed natural regeneration. The second keynote speaker, Mrs. Carla D. Matin from Harvard University, USA, is the founder of the Fine Cacao and Chocolate Institute. Her presentation “What is the flavour of good intention? On interest divergence and responsibility in the cacao-chocolate industry” showed recent situations of cacao industry in the world and in particularly, the unfair distribution of benefits between farmers and other actors along value chains. The third keynote speaker, Imacullate N. Maina, Country Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Nakuru Country, Kenya, talked about “scientific knowledge transfer and the science policy interface: bridging the gaps and overcoming the traps” with an example of agricultural development and policies in Kenya.

At TROPENTAG, I presented a poster, also co-authored by Prof. Jürgen Pretzsch and Prof. Dietrich Darr, in the session “agriculture transition and rural employment”. My poster “What makes small bamboo and rattan handicraft enterprises successful? A case study from Chuong My district, Hanoi capital, Vietnam” demonstrated the structure of bamboo handicraft value chain to identify the key factors affecting bamboo enterprises upgrading. I also took this chance to visit Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. It is a landscape park in Kassel with an area of 2.4 km2, the largest European hillside park, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. TROPENTAG gave me a great opportunity to establish links and build networks with other young scientists around the world for future collaboration.

By Tran van Hiep

%d bloggers like this: