2012 Congress Background
Montpellier is at the intersection of three cultural spheres: Occitan, French and North African. Summer and winter, morning, noon and night, this cultural melting pot finds its expression through the vibrant artistic life of the city, which hosts various renowned festivals: Radio France Music Festival and the Montpellier Dance Festival, the International Festival of Mediterranean Film. The city is also home to the world-famous Fabre museum (recently renovated), two opera houses, and the St Pierre Cathedral, and features a rich historical center with countless gardens.
Montpellier is geographically situated as an open gateway between the developed countries of the North and the Mediterranean and tropical nations where the improvement of livelihoods and of rational use of resources remains a requirement for sustainable development. Montpellier is France’s leading city for applied research in developing countries and for welcoming and providing training and education to a large number of scientists and students from developing countries. It thus holds a strategic position as an important research center with a large variety of institutions focusing on research topics particularly oriented towards issues related to sustainable development in tropical regions.
Montpellier is also a leading center for agro-environmental research in the Mediterranean region, and the city hosts many local antennae of international research centers such as ICARDA, Bioversity International, ICRA, CIAT, USDA, CSIRO, CAB and Embrapa. The city has also applied to host the headquarters of the recently restructured Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and will accordingly host the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) on March 2010. Montpellier is also home to numerous professional organizations, activist groups, NGO’s, producer associations and various publicly funded agencies, as well as active networks devoted to the protection of environment and of related knowledge.
The remarkable diversity in space and time of both natural environments and human societies has contributed to a complex structure of these coupled systems. Human societies have progressively shaped the various landscapes of the Mediterranean region. Using the features of the proposed hosting region as a source of inspiration, we will question the history of human-induced changes for a better understanding of the components and dynamics of current global biodiversity. Congress participants will be encouraged to focus on their understanding of past human activities as a means to develop more sustainable patterns of natural resource management in the near future. The main keywords upon which we would like to draw the congress debates are the following: coupled natural and ecological systems; historical ecology; cultural landscapes; biocultural interactions; and socio-ecological resilience.
Following on this issue, a few indicative sub-themes (among the others that will certainly emerge from submissions by declared participants) are suggested:
- Local products in changing rural/urban relationships;
- Agrodiversity: from domestication to contemporary practices in the global context;
- Land use legacies: excavating fossil knowledge and analyzing contemporary practices;
- Co-learning processes in ethnobiological research: how to build constructive interactions between research and local actors; and
- Sustainable development: Local knowledge in relation to environmental norms and policies.
The Congress will be organized in close partnership with the local authorities (city of Montpellier, Montpellier Agglomeration – a group of 31 cities centered around Montpellier – and the Languedoc-Roussillon Region) in synergy with the Feast of Biodiversity and the United Nations World Environment Day (June 5).
This proposal was approved at the 11th Congress in Cusco, Peru (2008). The full proposal includes photos of the Congress site.