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Science and traditional knowledge

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:

  • the interaction between holders of traditional knowledge and scientists should be strengthened;
  • ICSU should participate in the work of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO);
  • ICSU and its member organisations should take active steps to promote joint partnerships between scientists and holders of traditional knowledge, as well as local scientists.

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