Local knowledge and a planet under pressure
Climate Frontlines, April 2012

Indigenous peoples and many local communities are on the frontlines of climate change but they are not passive victims. They are holders of sophisticated and diverse knowledge sets that need to be actively considered by scientists and policy-makers in order for local adaptation to succeed. Taking into consideration local and indigenous knowledge complements and strengthens the use scientific modeling and provides for appropriate, effective environmental policy and decision-making. This was the key message at Indigenous knowledge and sustainable futures, a panel held during the March 2012 international conference Planet Under Pressure. Bringing together a small but diverse set of case studies from pastoralists in Chad, a drought-stricken Navajo Nation, remote islands of Vanuatu and the high mountains of Nepal, the panel co-convened by UNESCO and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity highlighted how GIS technologies could be used to reinforce traditional knowledge and how local perspectives complements and contributes to scientific assessment of impacts of drought and disaster. The panel presentations are now available online, and address: Himalayan climate change, alpine vegetation and Tibetan traditional knowledge; supporting and mainstreaming transhumance-agropastoralism in policy and development, an option for climate change adaptation; the observations of Navajo elders and the refining of our understanding of conventional scientific records; local knowledge and environmental fluctuations in the Western Pacific; and linking African pastoralist and scientific knowledge, Mbororo in Chad. Further information …