Belém +30: Reflecting on the Declaration of Belém and the field of ethnobiology across three decades
Written by Glenn Shepard and Flávio Ferreira Silva
2018 represents the 30th anniversary of the first International Congress of Ethnobiology which was held in 1988 at the Goeldi Museum in Belém. To celebrate this important anniversary, the Goeldi Museum and the Federal University of Pará (UFPA) are proposing to host the 16th International Congress of Ethnobiology in Belém in 2018. The first ICE resulted in the “Declaration of Belém” which highlighted the “inextricable link” between indigenous peoples’ rights and biodiversity conservation. This document, drafted by Darrell Posey and other scholars and activists, contributed directly to the language of key parts of the the Global Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992, notably paragraph 8j. The first ICE also gave rise to the International Society of Ethnobiology. In the ensuing 30 years, the ICE has never again returned to Belém, or to Brazil. During the 1980s, important figures in the International Society of Ethnobiology including Darrell Posey, William Overall and William Balée were part of the Goeldi research faculty and helped build a lasting legacy of ethnobiological research at the Museum. Bringing the ICE back to Belém after 30 years will provide an opportunity for the Society to reflect on the growth and evolution of the field of ethnobiology, to celebrate the lasting impacts of the Declaration of Belém on biodiversity conservation and indigenous rights, and also to assess the ongoing challenges to the principles laid out in the Declaration, which have been part of the guiding vision of the International Society of Ethnobiology since its inception. The city of Belém is also currently celebrating its 400th anniversary, at the same time it has grown into a center for gourmet cooking, receiving attention from chefs around the world seeking new variations on traditional Amazonian ingredients and recipes that incorporate elements of biodiversity into a rich and flavorful cuisine. The city is rich in cultural diversity with good music, food, natural ladscapes, big rivers and many things to do. The surrounding city has freshwater beaches and Islands, for example, Mosqueiro, Cumbu, Outeiro, Icoaraci, beautiful places to visit. There are boats and ships, and buses to visit those places and hotels of good quality. Especially given Darrell Posey’s lasting legacy in the Society, and the historic significance of Belém and the Goeldi Museum on this 30th anniversary date of the First International Congress of Ethnobiology in Belém, we feel that no other location would be more appropriate for the 2018 Congress.