This year's European Development Days on 18 and 19 June in the Tour and Taxis complex in Brussels were again the who is who in the politics, advocacy and practice of international development cooperation. Stella Williams and Cornelia E Nauen of Mundus maris attended the event and participated actively in a number of sessions, panels and workshops as well as engaging with staff at several booth. Here are a few impressions.

The grand opening again brought heads of government and state, the presidents of the European Commission and Parliament, royalty and other VIPs on to the stage. Despite serious difficulties experienced in official development cooperation, the pronouncements were all in favour of putting people and sustainability first on the agenda and intensify cooperation. Climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of people and the environment, smart financing development, gender equity and equality, fighting corruption and other action towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were all high on the agenda. So, let's do it!

The ACP secretariat (ACP - African, Caribbean and Pacific countries cooperating with the European Union in the context of the Cotonou Convention - 2000-2020) and its project on supporting the fight against climate change on the ground ran an interesting panel on financing counter measures.

The president of the European Development Bank and a senior representative of the German KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau) were among the panelists emphatically underscoring that the banks had gotten the message and were ready to grow the loan portfolio very substantially in this sense. A representative of DG DEVCO of the European Union elaborated on the redirection of development funding towards climate compatibility.

Another panel on climate finance, this time organised by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), brought together senior representatives of major aid donors from European member states and UNDP. The speakers expressed very nuanced assessments and recommendations as to how best to come to grips with the challenge that especially African countries are already experiencing the burden of more extreme events associated with climate change, while contributing little to provoking climate change themselves.

The issue of climate justice was looming large in the room even though it is hard to imagine that looking back at historical sources will by itself bring about a solution.

One thing was cristal clear after the conversation: that stepping up international cooperation on addressing, both reduction of CO2 emissions and other forms of drivers anywhere in the world and active investment in greater social, environmental and economic resilience in financially poorer countries, was a prerequisite for success.

A panel organised by Dr. Philip Cury, the IRD representative in Brussels, illustrated research results showing how resource decline in one part of the globe, notably the Peruian anchoveta, triggered demand for.small pelagics for fish meal in West Africa.

Dr. Djiga Thiao of the Centre de Recherche Océanographique Dakar-Thiaroye (CRODT), Senegal, showed this connection and how it was related to system-wide effects of climate change on the one hand and translated into social strain on the other.

Indeed, we have observed the ravages of these shifts on the ground and documented some of the social effects in the co-sponsored documentary "Poisson d'or, poisson africain" by ZIDEOPROD 2018 and through interviews with women and men in the traditional fishing sector in Senegal and elsewhere.

In the discussion, we could therefore enrich the presentations with additional information and field experience. It would be great to bring such sort of presentations also back to the operators in the fishing industry in the countries directly concerned, such as Peru and Senegal. The men and women developing and using the knowledge platform of the Artisanal Fisheries Academy in Senegal would benefit from such presentations and associated interaction.

Among the many other highlights was also a superb session reporting back on pre-event cultural activities titled "Culture for the Future". Burkinabe poet and musician animated a sequence of performances and discussions that touched minds and souls of the audience.

A rich mix of interactions at several project booths, active participation in workshops and many useful conversations made our participation and contribution to EDD19 very worthwhile. We're already looking forward to the next edition and follow-up on the new contacts developed.