The Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology is the embodiment of the ISE’s core mandate to facilitate an ‘ethical space’ where different worldviews can interact and share information across geographical and cultural boundaries, creating an interactive forum for cross-cultural exchanges. The work of the ISE spans the nexus of research, policy development and education in a multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural context at a global scale. This positions the ISE as a leader in creating and sharing understandings on concepts and practices in support of bio-cultural diversity, especially as related to community and ecosystem resilience and adaptive change as part of global warming.
Further, the congress is the official meeting of the Society that is held every two years. The congress has a dual role in the life of the ISE. In addition to providing a time and place to formally gather our diverse membership for ethnobiology exchanges, the congress is central in conducting the ISE’s business in at least three respects. It is the time for holding:
- the final meeting of the out-going Board of Directors (occurs on first day of congress);
- the General Assembly for all ISE members, where the ISE Board Members report on their term, important society business is discussed and decided, and the new ISE Board Members are elected and begin their two-year term (occurs mid-congress); and
- the combined transition meeting of the out-going and in-coming Board (occurs in latter part of congress)
The First International Congress of Ethnobiology was held in Belém, Brazil in 1988. More than 600 delegates participated in the Congress from 35 countries, including representatives from 16 indigenous organizations. A major result of the first Congress was the founding of the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE). At the close of the first congress, founding members joined together to forge a statement of guiding principles that represent the goals and ideals of ethnobiologists and ethnobiology in an international context. The result of these deliberations was The Declaration of Belém.
Our biennial international congresses continue to provide much-needed but increasingly rare opportunities for diverse actors to come together in person to share and learn, work through differences, and build understandings on difficult topics. In concert, we are building complementary web-based tools and fora for ongoing virtual communications and sharing of information and resources in multi-media and multi-lingual forms.