This conference report of The British Ecological Society Annual Meeting 2018 was written by Andrea Belgrano, Associate Editor of People and Nature.

The air in the room was infused by a sense of excitement and spiritual calmness, as Samuel M. ‘Ohukani‘ōhi‘a Gon, III, opened the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting 2019 in Birmingham. With an indigenous Hawaiian chant, he reminded us of the importance of ancient oral values as part of the footprints for an inclusive collective relationship between land, water and people.

Somehow we were reminded of the importance of the many spiritual values in cultural societies around the world, as a way to enhance communication and common understanding around us and in harmony with nature.

Public engagement and citizen science to facilitate outreach and provide an inclusive dialogue at the local communities level, as in Danielle Lee’s inspirational narratives, reminded us of the many dimensions of ecology, and the way we can make new discoveries together, bridging academic research with everyday life experiences.

The launch of the new BES journal, People and Nature, ‘a journal of relational thinking’, provides us all with a new voice to discuss novel transdisciplinary approaches across disciplines from natural sciences and humanities to the arts. There is the urgency to provide tools and novel ways of thinking for transformations to facilitate changes in the way we communicate.

Furthermore, transformative changes that unfold natural systems, such as biodiversity, and diffuse to cultural and geo-political transformations for mapping processes from the individual to the collective across scales. The BES meeting in Birmingham also called for the need to improve our ability to communicate with the many different actors involved in decisional processes that aim for a common policy for global sustainability, human health and governance.

As we all wandered around the convention center, moving between talks, eating and drinking together, we were reminded of the transformative power that togetherness brings about, and the ability to face together the many challenges in front of us.

The meeting infused us with lots of good energy and reminded me of the Daruma doll, that in Zen Buddhism represents the spirit of perseverance and the capacity to achieve goals, despite the many obstacles that we encounter along the path, and to treasure and unfold the many opportunities that we have, to build a better future for the next generations.

Daruma Doll: Image Credit