February 2011


Focus on new information technologies for International Mother Language Day
UNESCO media release, 17 February 2011

PARIS, FRANCE: Half of the world’s 6,000 languages are endangered. International Mother Language Day, celebrated on 21 February, underlines the importance of preserving this cultural and linguistic wealth. The theme for this year – The information and communication technologies for the safeguarding and promotion of languages and linguistic diversity – highlights the new technologies’ enormous potential for safeguarding, documenting and promoting the use of mother languages. As UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova underlines in her message, each language “is a unique source of meaning for understanding, writing and expressing reality” and the international day is “a moment to recognize their importance and to mobilise for multilingualism and linguistic diversity.” “We must harness the power of progress to protect diverse visions of the world and to promote all sources of knowledge and forms of expression,” added the Director-General. Read the media release … Download the UNESCO celebration programme [pdf] …

Aboriginal community focuses on the young to keep language alive
Sunday Mail, 20 February 2011

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA: Scotdesco Aboriginal Community in Australia says the Wirangu language is “critically endangered” with just two remaining elders fluent in the native tongue, because too much emphasis is placed on Pitjantjatjara. Scotdesco community development officer Michelle Anderson said Scotdesco had embarked on a three-year project to preserve and regenerate the dying language. “Cultural instructors from Scotdesco are learning Wirangu from the elders and then teaching it to the students of Koonibba Aboriginal School through outdoor activities like fishing, reef walking and painting,” she said. Two other at-risk languages, Gugada and Mirning, are also taught by the instructors. Read the article …

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Islands as Crossroads: Sustaining Cultural Diversity in Small Island Developing States
Tim Curtis (ed.)
UNESCO Publishing (February 2011) | ISBN: 978-92-3-104181-5

Islands have long been places where peoples of different cultures have encountered each other and lived in close proximity. Islands are better understood as dynamic centres of cultural interaction – as ‘crossroads of cultures’. This book, which reflects the outcomes of a UNESCO symposium held in the Seychelles in 2007, brings together scholars of various disciplines from the three main island regions of the world – the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean – to explore the ways in which the peoples of small islands have lived, and continue to live, in their culturally diverse societies. Leading anthropologists, historians, economists, archaeologists and others unpack the complexity and dynamics of societies in small island developing states. Chapters of relevance to TK address: preserving Caribbean cultural identity in the face of globalization, by Gordon Rohlehr; shifting cultures and emerging rites: Kang Rom (chanting tales) as a way of building communities, by Michael A. Mel; of Poteau mitans, bedis, vèvè and things: Caribbean Island identities and cultural production, by Patricia Mohammed; making policy to support living cultures: a case study in ‘mainstreaming culture’ from Vanuatu, by Ralph Regenvanu; and the global creative economy and Small Island Developing States, by Keith Nurse. Further information … Purchase the book from UNESCO …

IFAD to establish forum to examine plight of indigenous peoples in rural areas
IFAD press release, 18 February 2011

ROME, ITALY: Following a workshop held from 17-18 February 2011, in Rome, Italy, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced the creation of an indigenous peoples’ forum under the Fund’s auspices. Organized by IFAD with the support of the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the workshop gathered about 30 representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations, as well as IFAD staff, to discuss and agree on the directions, scope and the objectives of the forum, as well as on its organization, operation and governance. The forum will seek to increase the participation of indigenous peoples in IFAD’s programmes. It also will allow IFAD to better target poverty reduction efforts for indigenous peoples, as well as to integrate indigenous knowledge of resource management and sustainable agriculture. The group decided that the first global meeting of the indigenous people’s forum will take place in conjunction with the IFAD Governing Council in 2013. Read the press release … Visit the workshop website …

Senior Indigenous Fellow Position
OHCHR Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section, February 2011

The Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section (IPMS) of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is seeking an indigenous person to fill the position of “Senior Fellow” for a duration of approximately three months (9 May-29 July 2011). This fellowship aims at giving a better understanding and appreciation of the international human rights system and mechanisms, especially those dealing with indigenous issues. Through this experience the Senior Fellow will gain practical knowledge and working level experience by directly contributing to the programmes and activities of the IPMS. Candidates must be indigenous. Interested candidates should submit their applications, including a cv, a letter of motivation and a letter of recommendation from the organization/entity they are affiliated with, by fax (+41 22 917 90 08) or by post to the IPMS Office in Geneva, before 7 March 2011. Download the terms of reference including further details [doc] … Visit the Indigenous Fellowship Programme webpage …

Indigenous Communities from Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas to Send Some 1,500 Potato Varieties to Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Arctic Circle
Asociación ANDES press release, 15 February 2011

CUSCO, PERU: As climate change and disease threaten potato farming in the Peruvian Andes, the six indigenous communities of the Cusco Potato Park have decided to safeguard more than 1,500 varieties by sending them to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle. “Climate change will mean that traditional methods of maintaining this collection can no longer provide absolute guarantees,” said Lino Mamani, a Potato Park farmer and head of the Papa Arariwa (“Potato Guardians,” in Quechua) collective. “Sending seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will help us to provide a valuable back-up collection. The Vault was built for the global community and we are going to use it.” The first stage of the three-year project will involve training conservation farmers or “papa arariwas” in pollination techniques to produce botanical potato seed. This seed will be dried and cleaned, then packaged in foil packages to preserve in medium- and long-term cold storage conditions. Three sets of the seed will be produced. One set will be used by the Potato Park to develop climate-ready varieties of the native potatoes, which are increasingly threatened by rapid changes in weather patterns. The second set will be stored at the CIP genebank in Lima, and the third will be shipped and stored in the Seed Vault. All the sets of seed shall remain the property of the Potato Park at all times. “The farming practices here in Peru are interwoven with our cultural rituals and practices. Our potatoes are therefore both a cultural and a biological legacy …” said Alejandro Argumedo of Asociación ANDES-IIED. “This is a milestone in recognizing the importance of collaboration between communities and international institutions,” said Cary Fowler of the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust. “The Potato Park highlights the active role that individual communities play in creating and conserving diversity.” Read the press release … Read a BBC article on the topic …

Call for collaborative activity partners
Satoyama Initiative, 17 February 2011

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN: The International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) has circulated a number of proposals inviting IPSI members or prospective members in joint implementing activities. Proposals address: IWRM for sustainable communities; integrating scientific and traditional knowledge for co-management of socio-ecological landscapes for the well-being of communities in the flood-dependent lower floodplain agroforestry, pastoral and fishery systems of the eastwards flowing rivers of Eastern Africa; conservation and sustainable management of mangrove forests in Benin trough local capacity building and community development; development and implementation of awareness tools for the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators in the important areas of agricultural productions in Benin; sustainable management and conservation of resources and traditional knowledge of sacred forests; support for village reforestation; and Satoyama Initiative from Hamamatsu. Interested organizations are requested to inform the Interim Secretariat at isi(at)ias.unu.edu as soon as possible. Proposals of around 10 collaborative activities will be reviewed and endorsed at the Steering Committee meeting on 10 March 2011. Read the call for partners … Further information on the Satoyama Initiative …

Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal
Vol. 22, issue 2 (2011)
Special Issue: Traditional agricultural landscapes and community conserved areas

This issue includes several articles of relevance to TK, including on: traditional agricultural landscapes and community conserved areas: an overview, by guest editors Jessica Brown and Ashish Kothari; social-ecological indicators of resilience in agrarian and natural landscapes, by Frederik J.W. van Oudenhoven, Dunja Mijatovic and Pablo B. Eyzaguirre; the community conserved landscape of the Borana Oromo, Ethiopia: opportunities and problems, by Marco Bassi and Boku Tache; rethinking resource identification and utilization: the reconstruction of indigenous ethnoecological knowledge in Fata’an Wetland, Taiwan, by Wei-Chi Chang; traditional Maori horticultural and ethnopedological praxis in the New Zealand landscape, by Nick Roskruge; relational knowledge systems and their impact on management of mountain ecosystems: approaches to understanding the motivations and expectations of traditional farmers in the maintenance of biodiversity zones in the Andes, by Erick Pajares Garay and Jaime Llosa Larrabure; the conservation of the agrobiodiversity of La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, by Emili Bassols Isamat et al; and indigenous and community conserved areas in Oaxaca, Mexico, by Gary J. Martin et al.

In their article, guest editors Jessica Brown and Ashish Kothari conclude that across diverse settings, traditional agricultural landscapes created by indigenous peoples and local communities have been shaped by the dynamic interaction of people and nature over time. These landscapes, rich in agro-biodiversity as well as inherent wild biodiversity and cultural and spiritual values, embody human ingenuity and are continually evolving. Key points emerging from their review address the role of traditional ecological knowledge systems, cultural practices and social institutions in creating these landscapes and ensuring their stewardship; the importance of securing customary governance; and need for dynamic socio-ecological indicators to measure the resilience of different landscapes. View the issue, including links to abstracts …

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