Messages from the World Indigenous Network Conference for the

Messages from the World Indigenous Network Conference for the IPBES
international expert and stakeholder workshop on the ‘Contribution of
Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems to IPBES: Building Synergies with
Science’ (9-11 June 2013, Tokyo, Japan).
In June 2012, the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Julia Gillard MP, with the
support of Brazil, New Zealand and Norway, announced the World Indigenous
Network (WIN) at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
(Rio+20) in Brazil.
As custodians of knowledge and expertise, the WIN will bring together
Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC) land and sea managers to
share stories, knowledge, cultural experiences and ideas to better manage
ecosystems, protect the environment and support sustainable livelihoods.
The inaugural WIN Conference was held in Darwin, Australia from 26-31 May
2013, and brought together land and sea managers from over 55 countries.
Following the Conference, hosting of the WIN will pass from the Australian
Government to UNDP’s Equator Initiative.
As part of the WIN Conference, a workshop was held on ‘Connecting indigenous,
traditional and local knowledge and science – such as in IPBES – what’s in it for
knowledge holders?’ The workshop looked at the conditions that make
knowledge exchanges between indigenous and local knowledge and science
respectful and mutually supportive for IPLC and their partners. Examples were
presented from the Philippines, Kenya and Thailand of indigenous
methodologies for mapping and monitoring knowledge as bases for decisions
and actions regarding lands, territories and resources.
An overview of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity
and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was provided including the need for it to
become a truly diverse knowledge platform that transcends science and
embraces multiple expertise, perspectives and knowledge holders.
A workshop was also held on ‘Expanding and strengthening an indigenous and
local community network on customary sustainable use (CBD Article 10c)’. The
session reflected the connectedness between the newly established ‘Action Plan
on Customary Sustainable Use’ under CBD Article 8(j) on traditional knowledge,
innovations and practices, and IPBES’ recognition of the contribution of
indigenous and local knowledge to the conservation and sustainable use of
IPBES’ commitment to advancing synergies between indigenous, local and
scientific knowledge aligns with existing indigenous community based
monitoring and information systems (CBMIS), measuring indicators of
community well-being, the state of traditional knowledge, and ecosystem health,
while contributing to knowledge generation and broadening the evidence base
from a diversity of knowledge systems. In addition, IPBES creates opportunities
to advance identified knowledge gaps for achieving the objectives of the
Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and the Aichi Targets on aspects
related to traditional knowledge, innovations and practices, in particular Aichi
Target 181.
IPLC are important partners in, and contributors to, the work of IPBES and must
participate in its work program. They are also decision-makers and
implementers on the ground. IPBES offers an historic opportunity to address the
marginalization of traditional knowledge through its recognition, respect and
promotion, consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
The following messages, based on the two workshops and discussions with
a range of stakeholders at the WIN Conference, have been developed for
the IPBES international expert and stakeholder workshop being held in
Tokyo from 9-11 June 2013.
IPBES may wish to consider the following:
Conducting a pilot assessment to advance development of parallel
mechanisms for evaluating or assessing knowledge for IPBES assessments,
including aggregation of data across scales without compromising the quality
of insights and legitimacy. The assessment should be performed by diverse
knowledge holders, scientists and practitioners with experience of
connecting knowledge systems.
Contributing to the development of methodologies for assessing and
monitoring the indicators for the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020
and Aichi Targets, in particular Target 18, built on CBMIS and on the
appropriate aggregation of data to the global level. We note that this is
commensurate with the request from the CBD to IPBES whereby IPBES
should ‘contribute to assessments of the achievement of the Aichi
Biodiversity Targets’.
Mainstreaming experiences of methods for co-production of knowledge (e.g.
community mapping, citizen science) in assessments and sharing via the
capacity building function of IPBES.
In generating assessments, IPBES should seek evidence derived from diverse
knowledge systems, recognise complementarities and identify pathways for
cross-fertilization. Different knowledge systems, including indigenous and
local knowledge, would be viewed as generating equally valid evidence, using
different criteria of validation for data and information. Placing insights from
multiple knowledge systems side by side will enable an enriched
understanding of issues. This requires parallel sets of procedures to ensure
the credibility and legitimacy of knowledge, and a diversity of mechanisms
Aichi Target 18: By 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and
local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their
customary use of biological resources, are respected, subject to national legislation and relevant
international obligations, and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention
with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, at all relevant levels.
that facilitate communication, translation and mediation across knowledge
IPLC should be encouraged and supported in risk assessments related to the
sharing of knowledge. Free Prior Informed Consent should always be secured
including through methodologies and guidelines for assessment.
Women and men have different roles, responsibilities and knowledge in
managing biodiversity, resulting in different needs, priorities and concerns.
IPBES should be cognisant about the role of women in indigenous and local
knowledge systems and put in place mechanisms that ensure attention to
gender specific knowledge and balance in all components of its work.
Given the current lack of representation of IPLC on the interim MEP, IPLC
should be observers to the MEP – one man and one woman. Observers,
including IPLC, should be able to nominate candidates for the MEP. Measures
should be taken to ensure IPLC membership of the MEP after the interim
Funding needs to be secured to ensure IPLC participation in IPBES on an
ongoing basis.
Establishing a multidisciplinary and cross-cultural working group for
bridging knowledge systems in an equal, legitimate, and transparent way that
is relevant and useful for IPLC as knowledge and rights holders and managers
of lands and seas.
Annex 1.
Notes reflecting deliberations during the WINC
- How will IPBES facilitate greater participation of a diversity of knowledge
systems and holders of knowledge in the IPBES process?
Recognition of ILK
- How will ILK be used in global assessments? How can it be scaled up?
- IPBES should recognise best practice in producing knowledge.
- Communities are doing their own research but this is not being picked
up/taken into account by government and other researchers. In many cases,
community maps are likely to be more relevant/applicable than researchers’
- Co-production of knowledge is an important approach to create applicable
solutions for problems in ecosystem management, adaptation to changing
environmental conditions, or the loss of ecosystem functions. Knowledge
holders of different knowledge systems could be involved in the process of
formulating the respective research questions, in choosing the methods of
data gathering and in drawing the conclusions.
- How will IPBES take into account and validate multiple knowledge systems?
Validation is rarely a problem within a knowledge system, but validation
across knowledge systems entails problems of legitimacy, equity, and
compromised quality of knowledge. To realise the multiple evidence that
exists across knowledge systems we need to shift from trying to find ways to
translate knowledge into one currency, comparing and evaluating, towards
recognising complementarities and identifying pathways for crossfertilization. Each knowledge system should be respected on its own terms
and evaluated using internal mechanisms. We need a ‘Rosetta Stone’ for
knowledge systems.
- IPBES may wish to explore a ‘multiple evidence based approach’, which takes
into account different criteria of validation that should be applied to data and
information originating from different knowledge systems. Emphasising
complementarity and placing insights from knowledge systems side by side
will enable an enriched understanding of issues.
- Like science, knowledge systems will continue to change and evolve. In this
way, documented and publicly available knowledge represents knowledge at
a particular point in time (static) and should not be relied upon as a complete
- How will IPBES deal with gender specific knowledge?
- There is a plethora of local knowledge which is also valid despite not having
the same historical continuity and comprehensive identity as indigenous
knowledge systems.
Sharing of knowledge at various scales
- Countries need to celebrate and promote best practices examples of
indigenous management and biodiversity conservation successes through
IPBES e.g. savannah burning Australia.
- Biodiversity hotspots are often closely correlated with sacred sites/spiritual
- Certain individuals can act as cultural bridges and efforts should be
undertaken to identify these individuals.
- There is a need for capacity building in best practices and general behaviour
for facilitating reciprocity in sharing across knowledge systems.
Capacity building
- Local knowledge is complex, specific, localised – however, there are parallels
and knowledge can be adapted and people can learn from one other.
- How can IPBES learn from and create synergies with existing community
based monitoring and information systems?
- Indigenous Peoples are starting to use new technologies as part of their daily
Supporting implementation and reciprocity
Acknowledging that IPBES will provide policy-relevant information, but not
policy-prescriptive advice:
- Can IPBES help support policy implementation? Or perhaps identify what the
barriers are to implementation?
- IPLC are interested in how IPBES will deal with reciprocity whereby there is
a complete circle leading to changes on the ground. There need to be
pathways to provide knowledge to the community level.
- Mechanisms need to be developed for implementation at the national level
linked to implementation at the grassroots/community level.
- There should be reciprocity at the methodology development stage so that it
also benefits the communities.
- It’s often very difficult to find support for community initiatives. What role
can IPBES play in this? Can it call for funding?
- How will IPBES link to the 8j work being done on indicators (linguistic
diversity, traditional occupation and land use change in indigenous
territories)? What’s being discovered through the indicator work is that a lot
of the information is being lost before it reaches the global level.