A Meeting of Indigenous Knowledge

Increasing recognition of the importance of traditional knowledge in the management of land and natural resources has prompted various gatherings of indigenous peoples from around the world at high-level meetings and international conferences. Next week, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is hosting the first global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Forum in Rome in conjunction with the IFAD Governing Council. It will be held every other year, alternating with the Farmers’ Forum global meeting, and seeks to address the need for a more systematic dialogue between indigenous people and United Nations agencies.

Indigenous peoples have called for more effective participation in all development initiatives on their land, includingthe design and implementation of programmes and projects, such as those supported by IFAD. They argue that incorporating local and traditional knowledge and practices would make these projects and land management in general more successful and sustainable in the long term.

Indigenous knowledge has a growing significance particularly as organizations begin to adopt a landscape perspective in development projects. While there are many small-scale farmers in indigenous communities, there are also indigenous fishers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, and artisans. The Forest Peoples, Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods project, highlighted on the Landscapes Blog last March, has demonstrated how many indigenous peoples groups have managed resources in a way that focuses on an entire system or landscape, and considers everything within an ecosystem as interdependent.

Indigenous knowledge and respect for local identities and rights is gaining recognition in development work. The outcomes of processes such as the upcoming forum, that serve to open up dialogue, will be increasingly important for equitable and inclusive land management, and can help inform the movement toward more widespread adoption of landscape approaches. Stay tuned for more posts next week discussing topics related to indigenous peoples.

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