Displaying 1-20 of 21 key documents
Source: UN International Strategy on Disaster Reduction, Kyoto University, European Union
This document aims to build awareness for indigenous knowledge as an effective tool for reducing risk from natural hazards including earthquakes, cyclones (typhoons) and droughts.
It presents a collection of 18 indigenous practices developed by communities in the Asia-Pacific region. These include earthquake-safe traditional house construction practices in Kashmir, soil and water conservation through bamboo plantation in Assam, and village tank cascade systems for drought mitigation in Sri Lanka.
The collection also provides an overview of the types of indigenous knowledge that can exist in the context of disaster preparedness and early warning, and how integration with scientific practices can lead to better outcomes.
Source: UNESCO and UNU | June 2012
This report highlights scientific literature relating to the contribution of indigenous and traditional knowledge to understanding climate change vulnerability, resilience and adaptation. It aims to strengthen consideration of indigenous knowledge in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due for release in 2014.
The report, written for climate policymakers, includes topic overviews that include the identification of indigenous communities, understanding climate risks, vulnerabilities and adaptation, and the role of traditional knowledge in analysing vulnerability. It includes chapters on indigenous knowledge and science, and challenges in correlating indigenous and scientific observations.
Its authors note that despite the recognition of traditional knowledge as a vital tool for developing adaptation strategies, indigenous knowledge has remained largely outside the scope of IPCC assessments. Yet indigenous knowledge, practices and coping strategies can reinforce the adaptive capacity and resilience of communities. They warn that policies that undermine this capacity should be avoided.
Source: UN University | April 2012
This online book aims to offer insight into development issues related to climate change and indigenous peoples that can be useful in policymaking. It provides an overview of more than 400 relevant projects, case studies and research activities.
Different sections cover climate and environmental changes, including local observations, and the impact of these changes on indigenous communities. The book also outlines mitigation and adaptation strategies — based on traditional knowledge and survival skills — that are being implemented by them.
The authors highlight that climate change effects reported by indigenous people include loss of livelihoods; land degradation; impacts on food security; health issues; and water shortages that can affect agriculture, infrastructure, forestry and energy amongst others areas.
Source: Forest Peoples Programme | 2012
This report provides estimated figures for indigenous and forest peoples' populations across the world.
It seeks to raise awareness and recognition of indigenous and forest peoples, and their role in the management and use of forests and its resources. The report includes estimated figures according to type of forest dependence, region and country. It aims to serve as a useful reference in advocacy for the recognition of forest peoples' legal and human rights.
The figures were collected from a range of sources, including publications from UN bodies, national governments, nongovernmental organisations, human rights, and environmental institutions and academia. The report highlights the lack of accurate and up-to-date data on indigenous and forest peoples and argues the critical need for further research to improve estimates.
Source: UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) | January, 2009
This report — summarising a UNESCO innovation for development workshop — examines the role of innovation in development, and the contribution of knowledge, research and development to innovation. It focuses on knowledge in science, engineering and technology.
The report outlines analytical and theoretical frameworks as well as current innovation efforts and innovation policy. Major issues discussed at the workshop are highlighted in an action agenda, which suggests the need for more research and statistical indicators, dissemination of projects, human and institutional capacity building, better policy design and the need to increase awareness of innovation.
A separate report, which is included in the document, consolidates several themes that emerged from the talks, including the need to improve policy coherence, the difficulties of comparing innovation across countries or different points in time, the importance of capacity building, and the role of technology transfer in generating new knowledge. It also identifies challenges facing policymakers, the research community and international donors in achieving these goals. The report includes keynote speeches and links to Powerpoint presentations given at the conference.
This report reviews the achievements made by the 'Promotion of Grassroots Innovation in Asia-Pacific Countries' project, which aims to build capacity for member countries to source, document and disseminate grassroots innovation and traditional knowledge as a means of economic and social development.
The first section documents the theory and practice of grassroots innovation using case-studies of existing organisations, such as the Honey Bee Network. It illustrates the diversity of approaches used to engage with this type of innovation, as well as the ethical aspects of informed consent before obtaining knowledge from local populations. The second part describes advances made during national and regional workshops on the subjects of capacity-building, promoting grassroots innovation and creating partnerships.
Source: Tropenbos International | January 2012
This guide aims to help researchers working in tropical rainforests consider ethical issues in field-data collection and publication activities that involve indigenous or local knowledge.
Several cases of bio-piracy and an increasing focus on the rights of indigenous peoples mean that researchers are often called on to follow rules and regulations.
The guide is broken down into chapters that discuss the importance of creating a code of conduct, provide an overview of existing codes of conduct and international policy guidelines, and address issues related to informed consent. It also presents a protocol that can be adapted to the needs of researchers in various countries.
Source: Climate Change Adaptation and Development Initiative (CC DARE), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
This paper suggests that research-based, small-scale interventions that help farming systems adapt to climate change can guide progress towards achieving food security and addressing the food crisis in the Horn of Africa.
It outlines lessons learnt from the Climate Change Adaptation and Development Programme jointly implemented by the UN Environment Programme and the UN Development Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The authors argue for a shift away from top-down, corporate approaches to agricultural research and practice, in favour of a democratic approach that involves giving more decision-making power to local people, including farmers and indigenous people. Small-scale initiatives reduce tillage, protect the soil surface and alternate cereal crops with legumes that enrich the soil.
The paper suggests that communicating food security solutions to the public can help balance vested interests and level the field in favour of small producers. Managed effectively, the current drought in the Horn of Africa offers a window of opportunity to re-establish food security as a global priority.
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
This online book, published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, explores Africa's potential for intensifying agricultural production through ecological agriculture — the integration of traditional, conservation oriented farming techniques with modern science and technology.
Building on discussions from the Conference on Ecological Agriculture, held in Ethiopia in 2008, it outlines past experiences such as lessons learned from the Green Revolution in Asia; trends in African agricultural knowledge, science and technology for development; and climate change implications for agriculture.
The book concludes that ecological agriculture can benefit smallholder farmers in several ways such as helping to increase Africa's productivity, and therefore improving food security, and helping farmers adapt to climate change by making agro-ecosystems more resilient to stress. But scaling up ecological agriculture will require policy support as well as additional resources and information.
Source: World Agroforestry Centre | April 2011
This report synthesises the results of a review of 104 studies on gender and the adoption of agroforestry in Africa, and aims to identify strategies that challenge gender imbalances in development initiatives. It explores women's participation in agroforestry, including their ability to manage agroforestry practices, access to agroforestry information, and how they benefit from agroforestry.
The results highlight the substantial benefits that agroforestry can offer to rural women in Africa, mainly because it requires fewer resources than alternative enterprises. But women's participation is low, with limited access to information and markets, and a mixed record of successful management of agroforestry technologies.
The report provides several technological, policy and institutional recommendations for improving the efficiency of women's participation in agroforestry. They include domesticating important tree species, and ensuring that women have access to market information and microfinance. The report concludes by suggesting further research in areas such as measuring the income that women generate from agroforestry, and identifying the key ingredients of success stories across Africa.
Source: Tebtebba | September 2008
This guide, published by Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education), outlines the expected impacts of climate change on indigenous peoples around the world, and showcases traditional methods of climate change mitigation and adaption.
Following a basic introduction to climate change and the bodies, mechanisms and processes used for addressing it, the authors outline how climate change is impacting indigenous peoples in diverse ecosystems. For example, food and water insecurity arising from increased flooding or drought, and loss of biodiversity and traditional knowledge from rising temperatures.
The authors discuss the likely impacts of climate change mitigation measures highlighting, for example, the limitations of market-based strategies such as the Clean Development Mechanism. They discuss a range of alternative adaptation measures already being practiced by indigenous people, providing several case studies and examples of innovative strategies used in different regions. For example, African farmers using zero-tillage practices to moderate soil temperatures, Asian farmers growing varieties of crops to minimise the risk of harvest failure, and Honduran farmers using agroforestry and terracing to reduce erosion.
The authors go on to discuss measures for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and emphasise the need for indigenous people to be fully engaged in the debate.
Source: United Nations University / INTECH | July 2003
In this paper - which is targeted at national-level policy makers - the author explores the complex issue of traditional knowledge protection, and deems its protection to be necessary on utilitarian grounds.
The author argues that attempts to define traditional knowledge (TK) should focus on demarcating the nature of contribution that such knowledge could have to industrial research and development. The emphasis on the nature of the information itself serves as the best parameter of what the limits of "community/communities" are, and what sort of knowledge ought to be protected and made contractible through an intellectual property right.
The most effective options to protect traditional medicinal knowledge - the focus of the paper - appear to be those of trade secrecy or a system of community intellectual property rights. Categories of TK that do not fall within such criteria could be documented into databases to prevent third parties from claiming patents on already existing knowledge.
But a well defined right is only the first step in empowering communities. A large onus rests on the design of institutions that will put this right into an enforceable framework. These institutions would have two tasks: to represent communities effectively and to provide rules of contract formation that take into account the difficulties of dealing with information as a resource. The author acknowledges that the effective operation of such institutions may not be at all easy to achieve.
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science | July 2003
Realising that traditional knowledge holders stand outside the fold of intellectual property rights and are most often negatively affected by them, the AAAS has created a handbook that attempts to make intellectual property issues and protection options more understandable and readily available for traditional knowledge holders, human rights organisations, and legal professionals.
Its ultimate goal is to help communities understand and identify potential protection mechanisms already present in the current intellectual property rights regime that may be applied to their knowledge.
For communities that do not wish to participate in the IP regime, it offers suggestions and options to avoid inappropriate claims on their knowledge by others.
Source: Biowatch | September 2002
This declaration was presented at the Peoples Earth Summit, a parallel event to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 August to 4 September 2002. The declaration was coordinated by the South African non-governmental organisation, Biowatch, and reflects the views of participants at the South-South Biopiracy Summit held prior to the WSSD.
Key statements made in the declaration include:
Source: M. Mander (FAO) | 1998
In South Africa the demand for indigenous medicines and services is considerable compared with the demand for western health care services, and is growing due to population growth, poverty and beliefs. As a result, the demand for the popular plants used for indigenous medicines exceeds supply.
This publication by the FAO (one of the first comprehensive market surveys of medicinal plants in southern Africa) examines the demand for, and supply of, medicinal plants in Kwazulu-Natal, and the main marketing factors at play.
The indigenous medicine market is based on indigenous plants which are generally harvested from wild plant stocks. The available plant stocks are declining as they are not managed and little cultivation takes place. The study identifies three possible scenarios, which depend the actions of key players in the markets.
It identifies the most likely scenario as the commercialisation of indigenous plant production, which will cause prices to rise and exclude less sophisticated players from the market. The costs of this scenario will be borne largely by the current consumers, who will then lose access to basic medicine because of price increases and scarcity.
The study makes several recommendations for achieving a good balance between demand and supply.
Source: Anil K. Gupta (WIPO) | September 2001
This paper was presented by Anil K. Gupta, of the Honey Bee Network in India, at the Second WIPO International Conference on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property held in Geneva from 19-21 September 2001.
For a large number of communities and knowledge experts, says Gupta, globalisation has reduced the opportunities for expressing values. Their values no longer encourage them to conserve biodiversity and other resources and the knowledge systems associated with them. Furthermore, while these knowledge-rich, but economically poor, communities have provided leads for modern pharmaceutical and seed industries, they have hardly ever shared in the benefits.
The situation could be halted by introducing traditional knowledge digital libraries (TKDL), he says. Such a library system would explicitly acknowledge the providers, producers and reproducers of traditional knowledge, and would share the results of its documentation with them in the relevant local language. The IPR issues related to the TKDL are discussed extensively in this paper.
To carry forward the ideas presented in this paper, several policy and institutional changes will be necessary. One of the most difficult challenges in relation to TKDL is the extremely poor Internet infrastructure in most developing countries.
Source: M. Corbeels, A. Shiferaw and M. Haile (International Institute for Environmental Development) | February 2000
The degradation of soils poses a major threat to crop production in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In order to improve integrated nutrient-management practices, researchers need access to farmers’ knowledge and to understand their perceptions of soil fertility. A participatory survey was carried out in the semi-arid highlands of northern Ethiopia to identify and analyse local knowledge regarding soil fertility and local practices for managing it.
Farmers were found to classify their soils in three categories (fertile, moderately fertile, and poor). This classification is not limited to the soils’ perceived nutrient status. It is closely related to topography, and takes into account the soils’ depth and water-holding capacity. Soil fertility is also seen as dynamic, since a particular unit of land can become more or less fertile.
Land shortage and land fragmentation have forced farmers to abandon soil fertility management practices, such as fallowing, manuring, terracing, and using crop residues. The study found that experimentation with new practices (mineral fertilizer in combination with manure, for example) is an important type of site-specific learning that enables farmers to adapt new practices to the conditions in which they live and work.
(This article also has a summary in French.)
Source: Quaker United Nations Office | November 2001
This paper discusses a number of policy issues surrounding the protection of traditional knowledge (TK) that may be relevant to future negotiations or a deeper treatment of this issue in various international fora.
The paper aims to:
The paper is written for policy makers dealing with these issues across a range of government ministries as well as those groups and agencies with a special interest here. The report's aim is to contribute to informed public debate about, and policy making concerning, TK, IPRs and sustainable human development.
Source: International council for science (ICSU) | March 2002
The World Conference on Science (organised by UNESCO in cooperation with ICSU and held in Budapest in 1999) called for broad collaboration between science and society to meet the challenges of the future. In particular, it noted that traditional and local knowledge systems can make a valuable contribution to science and technology, and that there is a need to protect and promote this knowledge.
The General Assembly of the ICSU acknowledged this, but emphasised that traditional knowledge must be distinguished from approaches that seek to promote anti- and pseudo-science. A study group was set up to advise the ICSU regarding further action; this report is the outcome of their efforts.
The group’s recommendations include the following:
Source: World Bank | January 2002
This paper is about the World Bank’s ‘Indigenous Knowledge for Development Program’, which was launched in 1998. It reflects on the experiences of the initiative, and the steps that could be taken to help communities and governments to integrate IK into the development process. The paper concludes that IK has been put on the international agenda but that some substantial challenges remain.
Priorities for the World Bank are: