Debates and discussions
With the questions and papers sent in by the members of the honorary committee the organisation compiled a Conference Program. Although ready in May 1870, it was not altered when the Conference was postponed.
The programme was quite extensive. No less than seventy-eight debates, spread across four topics were to be addressed. The first topic géographie contained twenty-six questions, the second cosmographie had twenty-two. The third topic navigation, voyages, commerce, météorologie et statistique was the most extensive with thirty-six debates. The last ethnographie had only three questions for discussion.
Although it was a large programme, the majority of the questions were not addressed during the Conference because of a lack of time. But they do give a great insight into the themes that were important in the year 1869.
A few topics that should have been addressed were postponed because the speaker was absent. This is the case with the lecture of Dr. Augustus Petermann. Other authors of topics published in the proceedings never even made it to Antwerp: Commodore Matthew Maury for instance, sent in no less than five topics for discussion but did not come to Antwerp to participate.
A popular topic was one of 'large infrastructural works', like canals and railroads. The Turin engineer Paladini presented the idea of a railroad in the Sahara. He hoped to agree upon the economical benefit of such a project.