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Symposium on halophyte utilization

On invitation of the Institute of Sustainable Halophyte Utilization (ISHU), University of Karachi, I was attending a three days’ international symposium on the utilization of halophytes for the production of biofuels. ISHU’s event was supported by UNESCO, the African Union Commission and HOAREC (Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network). Next to local experts, the symposium was attended by colleagues from Cameroon, China, Djibouti, France and Germany.

Highlights of 3-day event included the opening ceremony with key-note remarks of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Karachi, the founder ISHU, Prof. Dr. Ajmal Khan, a keynote by the Director of the UNESCO Office in Islamabad, as well as a field visit to the diverse mangrove swamps in Karachi.

The opening ceremony was followed by a plenary lecture of Dr. J.C. Henry, launching the feasibility study on the innovative floating mangroves project, which, among other benefits, could bring the large-scale production of biofuel on top of tropical oceans into reality. Two lectures on issues related to sustainable environmental development were held by Dr. Elvis Paul Tangem (African Union) and Dr. Abderahman Ahmed (HOAREC). Additional scientific lectures on salinity tolerant crop development were presented by Dr. Xiaojing Liu and several Pakistani specialists. I provided a presentation on possibilities of crowdfunding for science and sustainable human development projects.

The symposium was a grant success and all involved stakeholders agreed on strengthen efforts and support ISHU with the future implementation of game changing projects in the field of halophyte utilization.

The hospitality of our hosts was beyond words and the visit to Pakistan was a good chance to widen my personal network and to make new friends. A long-term cooperation with ISHU, as well as a visit to China in 2017 are among the preliminary results.

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