Under the high patronage of UNESCO, Montpellier was honored to host the Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology in 2012.

Celebrating the connections between cultural and biological diversity,
and working for recognition of traditional knowledge,
traditional resource rights, and ethical research practices the world over

Organization of the congress was coordinated by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), a research organization devoted to conducting research in, for and with the countries of the South


with the support of
Agropolis International, an association linking establishments of research and higher education in Montpellier and the Languedoc-Roussillon region involved in the fields of agriculture, food, biodiversity and environment

and the support of:

trustee institutions of the mixed research groups (UMR) “Governance, risk, environment and development” (GRED) and the “Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology” (CEFE). Within the CEFE, organization was mainly carried out by the scientists of the research unit “Biocultural Interactions”.

The congress could not have been organized without the sponsorship of various partners.

While many examples in ethnobiological research have attempted to build strong linkages between local communities and national and international research teams, a major challenge put forward to our community of ethnobiologists in the 2012 congress will be to improve our understanding of how research in ethnobiology can fruitfully build on partnerships both with local organizations and with public authorities.

Many concrete examples of strong involvement of researchers in Montpellier with local and regional public administration (Department, Region) and with local citizen organizations (environmental NGOs, agricultural and forestry associations) will provide food for thought during the congress upon ways on how academic research may link fruitfully with citizen organizations as well as public administration.

A second framework for developing reflections on the conceptual basis of ethnobiology as well as on methods in the discipline concerns the new role attributed to local knowledge and know-how in the context of environmental issues and sustainable development. There is an urgent need to understand how local societies — whose knowledge systems are put forward as paths for improving environmental management — adapt their knowledge systems to the new environmental arena, to trade circuits that put forward green labels and to the very fact that local knowledge has become a new resource for development. The organization of the congress will actively aim at discussing new concepts and innovative methodologies to understanding local knowledge in the context of the discourse and the practice of sustainable development.