Indigenous Knowledge and Biodiversity
The recognition that local and indigenous people have their own ecological understandings, conservation practices and resource management goals has important implications. It transforms the relationship between biodiversity managers and local communities. While previously they were perceived simply as resource users, indigenous people are now recognised as essential partners in environmental management.
However, differences between scientific and indigenous worldviews continue to create barriers to meaningful collaboration, as does the widespread assumption that science is superior to other knowledge systems.
LINKS works on a number of processes and projects relating to indigenous and local knowledge and biodiversity, including supporting the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). We also have projects in Latin America, the Pacific, and Asia.
Knowledges of Nature 11
The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and its Task Force on indigenous and local knowledge systems (ILK) present a series of case studies based on indigenous and local knowledge from Americas. This report from the Dialogue Workshop in Bolivia, Sucre (20-22 July 2016) contributes ILK to the Americas regional assessment, while piloting methods to reinforce ILK in biodiversity assessments.
Knowledges of Nature 10
The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and its Task Force on indigenous and local knowledge systems (ILK) present a series of case studies based on indigenous and local knowledge from Asia. This report from the Dialogue Workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand (26–28 June 2016) with additional inputs from the subregional workshop in Dhulikhel, Nepal (29 November–2 December 2016) contributes ILK to the Asia-Pacific regional assessment, while piloting methods to reinforce ILK in biodiversity assessments.
Knowledges of Nature 9
The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and its Task Force on indigenous and local knowledge systems (ILK) present a series of case studies based on indigenous and local knowledge from Europe and Central Asia. This report from the Dialogue Workshop in UNESCO, Paris (11-13 January 2016) contributes ILK to the Europe and Central Asia regional assessment, while piloting methods to reinforce ILK in biodiversity assessments.
Knowledges of Nature 8
The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and its Task Force on indigenous and local knowledge systems (ILK) present a series of case studies based on indigenous and local knowledge from Africa. This report from the Dialogue Workshop in UNESCO, Paris (14–16 September 2015) contributes ILK to the African regional assessment, while piloting methods to reinforce ILK in biodiversity assessments.
Knowledges of Nature 7
The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and its Task Force on indigenous and local knowledge systems (ILK) present a series of case studies based on indigenous and local knowledge from Brazil, France, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, New Zealand and Panama. This report from the Dialogue Workshop in Panama (1-4 December 2014) contributes ILK to the IPBES pollination assessment, while piloting methods to reinforce ILK in biodiversity assessments.
Knowledges of Nature 6
The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has released the report of the international expert and stakeholder workshop on the contribution of indigenous and local knowledge systems to IPBES. The workshop was convened by the IPBES Multidisciplinary Expert Panel, co-organized by the United Nations University (UNU) and UNESCO, and hosted by Japan’s Ministry of Environment. The report summarizes discussions on opportunities, challenges and needs with respect to indigenous and local knowledge in the IPBES framework, and identifies appropriate procedures and approaches for creating synergies between science and indigenous and local knowledge.
Knowledges of Nature 5
'In recent years there has been a growing awareness that scientific knowledge alone is inadequate for solving the climate crisis. The knowledge of local and indigenous peoples is increasingly recognized as an important source of climate knowledge and adaptation strategies.' This UNESCO-UNU publication is an outcome of an initiative on 'Indigenous Peoples, Marginalized Populations and Climate Change', a partnership that consists of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme, UNESCO and UN University.
Knowledges of Nature 4
Echoes at Fishermen’s Rock – Traditional Tokelau Fishing
Edited and translated by Antony Hooper and Iuta Tinielu, 2010
This straightforward manual is a collection of the traditional techniques for the capture of crabs, bird and especially fish of the lagoon, the reef and the open ocean of Tokelau. As such, it introduces the various species and thus the rich biodiversity of the small Pacific island country.
Knowledges of Nature 3
Mayangna Knowledge of the Interdependence of People and Nature: Fish and Turtles
[Conocimientos del Pueblo Mayangna sobre la Convivencia del Hombre y la Naturaleza: Peces y Tortugas]
By Paule M Gros and Nacilio Miguel Frithz, 2010 [available in Spanish and Mayangna]
The Central American tropical rainforest along the border between Nicaragua and Honduras has been the home of the indigenous Mayangna and Miskito for centuries. Their knowledge about the local flora and fauna is extensive and in-depth. This 450 page book – divided into two volumes - captures in meticulous detail the breadth and depth of indigenous knowledge about the aquatic world including a wide range of information about the 30 fishes and six turtles that frequent Mayangna waterways.
Knowledges of Nature 2
Water and Indigenous Peoples
Edited by R. Boelens, M. Chiba and D. Nakashima, UNESCO: Paris, 177 pp, 2006.
Based on the papers delivered on the Second and Third World Water Forums (The Hague, 2000, and Kyoto, 2003), this book brings to the fore some of the most incisive indigenous critics of international debates on water access, use and management, as well as indigenous expressions of generosity that share community knowledge and insight in order to propose remedies for the global water crisis.
Knowledges of Nature 1
Reef and Rainforest: An Environmental Encyclopedia of Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands
[Kiladi oro vivineidi ria tingitonga pa idere oro pa goana pa Marovo]
By Edvard Hviding, UNESCO: Paris, 252 pp, 2005. [available in English and Marovo]
Reef and Rainforest proposes a voyage of discovery into the lives of the Marovo people. This encyclopedia, based entirely upon local knowledge of the environment, compiles the names and associated stories for some 350 fishes, 450 plants, 100 shells, 80 birds, 80 distinct topographical features of coral reef, sea and coast - and more. Written first and foremost for the use of the Marovo people, many wise elders of the villages and other local experts on reef and rainforest have provided, checked, verified and expanded the names and stories contained in this book
Cultural Diversity and Biodiversity
Issue 187 - March 2006
Marie Roué, Editorial Adviser
The relations between cultural diversity and biodiversity often seems little more than a vague analogy. They take on a much more specific meaning when biodiversity produced over time by human action is regarded as a manifestation of the diversity of cultures. Cultural diversity is thus an essential basis for worldwide action in favour of sustainable development. But to be able to manage something one must first know what it is. This issue investigates the relations between local and indigenous societies and nature from the Philippines to Benin, from sub-arctic to Melanesia, and from Thailand to France. The articles focus on hybrid objects which are at the same time natural and cultural, and stand at the limit between the domestic and the wild: Local varieties and breeds, localized production processes, and landscapes modified by societies which qualify as both natural and cultural. The relations between cultural diversity and biodiversity also make it necessary to ground sustainable development in the voices of those concerned. The articles in this issue are therefore polyphonic: they combine the voices of the Saamis, Karen, Ifugao, Benin, and Cévenols as indigenous peoples, researchers, and politicians, with the voices of environmental anthropologists and sociologists.
Most of the authors in this issue participated in the workshop, "Biological diversity, cultural diversity: issues relating to local knowledge" organized by Douglas Nakashima and Marie Roué within the framework of the international conference, "Biodiversity, science, and governance" held at UNESCO from 24-28 January 2005.
NGOs in the Governance of Biodiversity
Issue 178 - December 2003
By Marie Roué, Editorial Adviser
Since the traditional ecological knowledge of local and indigenous peoples was written into Agenda 21 and the Convention on Biodiversity, their role in management of their natural resources has achieved international recognition. However, it is as difficult for people far removed from centres of power to be heard in national and international arenas as it is for the arenas themselves to relate to them and to grasp their knowledge.
The role of environmental NGOs and some of their power as mediators of local knowledge derive, no doubt, from precisely this paradoxical situation: recognition by national and international bodies of a knowledge that lies beyond their direct reach.
However, mediation in the exchange of traditional knowledge also reveals tensions and ambiguities in the relation between the interests of biodiversity and of indigenous peoples. When they share a place with NGOs, developers and other interested parties, profoundly different views and practices with respect to nature are deployed.
The governance of biodiversity raises difficult and inescapable issues of participation and accountability. This issue sketches some paths for future research by comparing encounters between the indigenous and the ecological that have taken place in a wide range of countries and contexts over the past thirty years.
- Go to the ISSJ website for more information or to obtain a copy of this issue
- Download full Spanish version (in PDF): Las ONG y la gestión de la diversidad biológica
Most of the papers presented here were first presented at a seminar held at UNESCO Paris on 27 - 28 May 2002: NGOs, indigenous peoples and local knowledge: politics of power in the biodiversity domain.
Issue 173 - September 2002
In the mid-1990s, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the United States Agency for International Development launched a novel partnership. The International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) sought to bring together university researchers, pharmaceutical companies, non-government organisations and representatives of indigenous peoples into a consortium to identify genetic and biochemical materials that could prove commercially valuable. The venture was also intended to create innovative mechanisms to share with indigenous peoples the anticipated benefits from accurate identification of commercial profitable compounds.
Despite the prestigious names and institutions, results from the initiative remain uncertain at best, and little benefit has reached indigenous peoples.A key reason is that insufficient attention has been given to the basic question of how to think about indigenous knowledge and its relationship to power.
The contributions to this issue consider that question, arguing for greater attention to the contexts in which indigenous peoples live, indigenous knowledge is generated, and interactions between the putative indigenous/local and the alleged scientific/modern occur.
Furthermore, they stress the need for closer attention and deeper appreciation of the political relations for which easy conceptual categories often, inappropriately, come to stand. Such movements in perspective potentially lay the foundations for greater uncertainty in social outcomes and shifts in political relationships: it is precisely on favour of such indeterminacy and changes in asymmetric relations that the contributions are written.
- Go to ISSJ website for more information or to obtain a copy of this issue
- Download full Spanish version (in PDF): El conocimiento indígena
Fishers' Knowledge in Fisheries Science and Management
Edited by Nigel Haggan, Barbara Neis and Ian G. Baird. Coastal Management Sourcebooks 4. UNESCO, 437 pp., 2007
This book focuses on how and where fishers' knowledge – indigenous and artisanal, as well as large and small-scale commercial – is being put to work in collaboration with scientists, government managers and non-governmental organizations
Evolution of village-based marine resource management in Vanuatu between 1993 to 2001
By R. E. Johannes and F. R. Hickey, UNESCO, 2004
A 1993 study of coastal villages in Vanuatu, an archipelago in the tropical western Pacific, revealed that, within the previous three years, marine resource management measures, designed to reduce or eliminate overfishing or other damaging human impacts on marine resources, had rapidly increased...
Interview of Mrs. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Published in Planet B Magazine
Mayangna people try to safeguard their culture
News published on the UNESCO San José website on 30 November 2010
[in Spanish only]
Unesco Encyclopedia highlights the knowledge of the Mayangna community News published in El Nuevo Diario on 27 November 2010
[in Spanish only]
Mayangna knowledge deep in the heart of Mesoamerica
A World of Science, Vol. 6, No. 4, October-December 2008
By Paule Gros and Douglas Nakashima
One size does not fit all
A World of Science, Vol. 6, No. 4, October-December 2008
Editorial by Walter Erdelen on the Mayangna people
Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in a global society : Traditional Knowledge in Sustainable Development and Resource Management
No. 7 in UNESCO's Programme on the Eradication of Poverty, Especially Extreme Poverty Brochure, 2006
The San Community: Sustainable Development before its time
The New Courier, May 2005
By N. Crawhall
Spared by the sea
The New Courier, May 2005
By D. Elias on the Moken tribe, Surin Islands, Thailand
The knowledge that saved the sea gypsies
A World of Science, Vol. 3, No. 2, April-June 2005
By D. Elias, S. Rungmanee et I. Cruz on the Moken tribe, Surin Islands, Thailand
Indigenous Knowledge, Peoples and Sustainable Practice
Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Change - Volume 5, 2002
By Douglas Nakashima and Marie Roué
Celebrating the indigenous knowledge of the Mayangna people
Book launch - July 2010
The book “Conocimientos del Pueblo Mayangna sobre la Convivencia del Hombre y la Naturaleza” was successfully launched in July 2010 in Managua, Nicaragua. Available in Mayangna and Spanish, the 400-page book in two volumes captures the knowledge, know-how and worldview of the Mayangna people...
Biological and Cultural Diversity: The challenge of local knowledge, practice and worldviews
Organized by UNESCO and CNRS, Paris, France, 27 January 2005
Much of the world's biodiversity is created, maintained and managed by local communities, with language, knowledge, know-how and worldview serving as both tools and conceptual frame. These interactions, tying societies and social actors to biodiversity, can only be comprehended through a holistic and interdisciplinary approach. ..
Water and Cultural Diversity
Third World Water Conference
Kyoto, Japan 16-17 March 2003
Indigenous People's contribution to the thematic session. It will consider the extent to which indigenous representations, knowledge and practice are given due consideration in water policy development, and present alternatives for a more effective integration of indigenous peoples into decision-making processes that directly impact upon their economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being...
Linking Traditional and Scientific Knowledge for Sustainable Development
Parallel Event at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August - 4 September 2002
Participants recognised that both traditional knowledge systems and science, whether in the domains of environmental conservation, education, or medical practice, each had their place and that continuing their respectful coexistence, encouraging open dialogue, and strengthening synergies are mutually beneficial goals...
NGOs, indigenous peoples and local knowledge: politics of power in the biodiversity domain
Seminar at UNESCO, Paris, 27-28 May 2002
When it comes to managing biodiversity, relations between scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and indigenous peoples can be complex, even conflictual affairs. This emerges from a seminar organized at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris by the Apsonat team within the Centre national de recherche scientifique (CNRS), in collaboration with the transdisciplinary LINKS programme launched by UNESCO as World Conference on Science follow-up...
Indigenous Science and Traditional Knowledge
Wellington, New Zealand 3-7 September 2001
The purpose of the workshop was to explore recommendations of the UNESCO World Conference on Science (Budapest, 1999) as they relate to indigenous science and traditional knowledge. Protection of indigenous science was a major theme...
Science and Tradition: Roots and Wings for Development
Brussels 5-6 April 2001
International Conference organized by the Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences and UNESCO...
Water and Indigenous Peoples
Second World Water Forum
The Hague, Neds 17-22 March 2000
Indigenous peoples have sophisticated knowledge and practices relating to water, its use and management. In this session Aboriginal (Australia), Cree (Canada), Fijian (Fiji), Hopi (USA), Ibaloi-Igorot (Philippines), Karen, Thai (Thailand) and San (Namibia/Botswana) case studies were presented and discussed...
Science and Other Systems of Knowledge
World Conference on Science
Budapest, 28 June 1999
Almost without exception, the participants acknowledge that traditional knowledge is a vital heritage for humanity. They recognized that, for the great majority of the world's population and in particular for those living in developing countries, traditional knowledge provides the principal means of...