International Day of the Tropics: Together for the Tropics
The Future Belongs to the Tropics
In the lead-up to the International Conference of Tropical Sciences (TropSc 2021) with the theme of “The Future Belongs to The Tropics”, the Mahathir Science Award Foundation (MSAF) together with the Academy of Sciences Malaysia successfully organized its 12th webinar titled “Together for the Tropics”. This webinar was conducted in conjunction with the International Day of Tropics that is celebrated worldwide on 29 June annually as a way to appreciate the unique diversity of the Tropics as well as addressing challenges and opportunities in tropical regions.
The countries in the Tropics are disparate socio-culturally, economically and politically. However, they have much in common such as the threat of climate change, chronic problem of under-development, and inequalities in health. We also have much in common in terms of the wealth of natural resources and a young demographic.
By collaborating we will have a common voice and effort in solving issues and problems and in exploiting opportunities. This webinar explored the idea of forming an alliance for the Tropics to explore the various mechanisms for collaboration.
The webinar started off with welcome remarks delivered by the session’s moderator, Professor Dato’ Seri Dr. Mazlan Othman FASc (chair of TropSc 2021). She highlighted the crux of gathering institutions around the world as an umbrella community to find a common ground to address issues revolving around the Tropics. Acknowledging the importance of collaboration among organizations from tropical countries to work collectively for a mutual goal, this webinar featured a panel of experts from different organizations that have been championing the cause of the Tropics. The speakers were: Professor Sandra Harding alongside with Ann Penny (State of Tropics, Australia), Meena Raman (Third World Network, Malaysia) and Fernando Briones (Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force, USA).
Professor Harding started her talk on the need to have a shared vision about the Tropics and aims to build greater capacity in research and development through connecting researchers around the world. Additionally, Ann continued the presentation by underscoring the importance of establishing international partnerships and including a compelling and future-focused narrative to gauge community participation. Following that, Meena touched on the importance of globalising decision-making with policy makers through evidence-based analysis from researchers and collaborations between like-minded countries. Fernando than emphasized how based on his work at the GCF taskforce, networking was crucial to help build the capacity and strengthen the commitment in protecting natural resources in the Tropics.
A dynamic and informational discussion among the panelists was conducted with several key takeaways. Firstly, that an alliance of tropical-related organisations could be a useful way to gather more comprehensive information on the tropics and spearhead common positions at the international stage. Secondly, that establishing a centralized digital platform with all tropical biodiversity data and resources could help fill the knowledge gap. Ann summarised the strategic approach to collaboration using the “3 Ds: dialogues, directory and data“ .The session ended with a Call-To-Action message from Prof. Mazlan to call upon policymakers, organizations, stakeholders, and local communities to work together to ensure a more resilient and sustainable future for the younger generation who will be the Future of the Tropics.