Indigenous and local communities

Rain Forest Warriors: How Indigenous Tribes Protect the Amazon
National Geographic, 22 December 2013

LONDON, UK: Deforestation stops at the borders of the lands of indigenous tribes, where a massive green island is comprised of ten legally ratified indigenous territories totaling 35 million acres (14 million hectares). For those who want to protect the Amazon, there’s a lesson here. How do relatively few indigenous people manage to keep the chainsaws and bulldozers at bay over a vast area of pristine forest? Legal protections are part of the answer: Threatened by ranchers, loggers, and gold miners on their borders, the Kayapo fought for and won official recognition of their lands in the 1980s and 1990s. (Their southern neighbors were already living in a smaller protected area, the Xingu Indigenous Park, established in the 1960s.) But this region of the southeastern Amazon is like the Wild West, a territory lacking proper governance. Violent conflict over land, illegal logging and gold mining, fraudulent land deals, and other corruption are rampant. Laws are not protection enough. Some native tribes have staged protests, pressured the government, and fought on the ground to secure their rights. Read the article …

Healthy eating: nutritious indigenous foods you may never have heard of
The Guardian, 23 December 2013

LONDON, UK: The proliferation of the western diet, which is high in refined sugars, fats, processed grains and meat, has been blamed for a rise in global obesity and diet-related illnesses. As awareness of healthy eating has grown in the west, sales of once obscure grains such as quinoa have skyrocketed. Amid growing concern that unhealthy eating habits are crowding out healthier traditional crops, Food Tank: The Food Thinktank has compiled a list of indigenous fruits and vegetables that should be championed, including amaranth, cowpea, pamir mulberry and bunya nut. Read the article …

Indigenous rangers protecting turtles
ABC Rural, 24 December 2013

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA: There is little known about the flat back turtles that nest on the beaches of north Queensland, or the threats they face. But a group of indigenous rangers is working to protect the creatures by patrolling the beaches and the ocean. Mixing traditional knowledge and modern science, the rangers are making sure the extraordinary species will survive into the future, and be around for the next generation. Read the article …

Pollination and Land Degradation: Top Priorities for New Intergovernmental Body
IPBES Press Release, 14 December 2013

ANTALYA, TURKEY: The second meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), held from 9-14 December 2013, in Antalya, Turkey, concluded with the adoption of the Antalya Consensus, a set of decisions detailing: the Platform’s work programme, for 2014-2018, including fast track, thematic, regional and sub-regional assessments and activities for building capacities; a conceptual framework that considers different knowledge systems; and rules and procedures for the Platform on, inter alia, the nomination of future Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) members and procedures for the preparation of the Platform’s deliverables, and relationship with the UN. The meeting agreed to develop a set of assessments on pollination and food production, land degradation and invasive species meant to support the science behind policy making. It also established a task force on indigenous and local knowledge systems led by the MEP in consultation with the Bureau, and adopted its terms of reference; and requested the MEP and the Bureau to develop draft procedures for and approaches to working with indigenous and local knowledge systems, and to establish in 2014 a roster and network of experts and a participatory mechanism for working with various knowledge systems. Read the IPBES press release … Read the IISD RS daily and summary reports of the meeting …

BSF Projects – Progress Update
ITPGR release, December 2013

ROME, ITALY: The 19 projects sponsored by the second round of the Benefit-Sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) are currently in implementation in 31 countries across Asia, Africa, the Near East, and Central and South America. The projects place particular importance on farmers’ traditional knowledge, their socio-cultural systems and institutions, and the role of local communities in securing access to agricultural biodiversity. Farmers are involved in the collection, characterization, evaluation and development of new varieties in crops like rice, maize, potato, wheat and barley, as well as in the compilation of information on existing crop diversity. These activities are also consistent with national strategies and priorities. The Treaty’s BSF projects also emphasize the importance of gender differentiated traditional knowledge and the adoption of gender-equitable approaches. To help secure local seed systems and facilitate sharing of information on seed development, the projects have set up Seed Clubs. Similarly, biodiversity fairs and farmer exchange visits have been taking place in Bhutan, Guatemala, India, Jordan, Iran, Morocco, Tunisia and Peru, thus providing excellent opportunities for exchanging knowledge, building on established good practices and giving farmers the opportunity to showcase seed collections representative of their selection and conservation practices. Read the update …

Traditional knowledge key in adaptation
Fiji Times, 12 December 2013

SUVA, FIJI: Traditional early warning systems used by ancestors to predict an incoming natural disaster have been an integral part of saving lives long before the introduction of technology. This was the topic of discussion among villagers at a Pacific Community Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Partners in Community Development Fiji workshop at Nayavuira Village in Rakiraki. PCDRR community consultant Taina Naivalu said the traditional knowledge passed on through generations would assist where technology could not, and urged village elders to pass on this knowledge to the younger generation. Read the article …

Traditional Knowledge for Adapting to Climate Change: Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Pacific
UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICHCAP), 2013

This information brochure has been produced to highlight examples of how intangible cultural heritage contributes to climate change adaptation efforts in the Pacific. Examples relate to traditional navigation systems, environmental resource management, vernacular architecture, and social cohesion, networks and cooperation. It is argued that adaptation to change is part of the lifestyles of the Pacific community. Traditional knowledge, values and practices (or intangible cultural heritage) underpin the ability of the Pacific community to successfully live and thrive in the Pacific environment. In synergy with other scientific knowledge, intangible cultural heritage may enhance the communities’ resilience against natural disasters and climate change. Consideration for culture should be integrated into reducing disaster risk and adapting climate change policies, plans and actions. Download the publication [pdf] …

Adaptation Toolkit: Guidebook for Researchers and Adaptation Practitioners Working with Local Communities
Gifty Ampomah, Tahia Devisscher, Energie Environnement Développement, Stockholm Environment Institute, March 2013

This toolkit aims to help conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment and develop adaptation strategies based on current capacities. Specifically, researchers are able to: identify current capacities, skills and assets in a project site, understand climate-related events in the past and coping strategies used, as well as current climatic/environmental hazards that shape vulnerability; and on this basis facilitate a multi-stakeholder process for developing locally suitable adaptation strategies. Download the guidebook [pdf] …

Mapping and Documenting Indigenous Knowledge in Climate Change Adaptation in Ghana
Benjamin A. Gyampoh, Winston A. Asante, Africa Adaptation Programme, UN Development Programme, 2011

This study assesses the extent of community observation of changes in climate and associated impacts as well as community-based approaches used in coping with the changes. For each climatic observation, the people provide evidence to support their claim as well as early, short term and long term responses to these changes. Information on local indicators for predicting climate was also collected in all the communities that were surveyed. Also important were the extent to which the community-based indicators supported rural livelihoods and coping with changes in weather patterns as well as the potential threats to these knowledge systems. Communities’ awareness of and usage of climate information was also assessed. Indigenous knowledge used in adapting to changing climate have been identified and documented as part of the findings of this study. The knowledge systems offer readily available and significant opportunities for integration into climate change adaptation programmes, including disaster risk reduction programmes. The study reveals that communities rightly observe changes in their climate and have substantial understanding on what goes on around them and how they should make adjustments to ensure their livelihoods go on. The communities are able to provide concrete evidence of the observed changes to buttress their observation. However, some of the useful indicators that have and continue to help the people know changes in their environment and adapt their livelihoods accordingly are threatened with extinction due to the enormous changes in the environment. Habitats of plants, animals, birds and insects which have played significant roles as climatic indicators are being lost or modified, resulting in most of these indicators either migrating or dying. Despite a wider awareness of the weather forecasts given by the Ghana Meteorological agency, most farmers did not plan their activities based on the weather forecast; the major reason being that they found it to be less reliable and also too general instead of being tailored to their specific communities. This makes the application of indigenous knowledge in weather prediction using traditional indicators very relevant to the rural farmer. To fully benefit from the usefulness of the indigenous knowledge, there is the need for long term studies to validate the indigenous knowledge and incorporate them into scientific knowledge systems for effective adaptation strategies. Download the publication [pdf] …

International polar bear conservation will include Inuit knowledge
Nunatsiaq Online, 9 December 2013

NUNAVUT, CANADA: Canada, the US, Russia, Norway and Denmark, meeting from 4-6 December 2013 in Moscow, agreed to include traditional ecological knowledge from indigenous Arctic peoples in polar bear management decisions under the 1973 International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears. The group completed their meeting with a joint declaration that lists several points of agreement on polar bear conservation and management. Listed among them are a recognition of “the importance of traditional ecological knowledge in informing management decisions,” and “the need for the range states to develop a common understanding” of what traditional ecological knowledge is. Read the article …

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