Linking Traditional and Scientific Knowledge for Sustainable Development

Parallel Event at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
Johannesburg, South Africa 26 August - 4 September 2002

The topic of traditional knowledge is experiencing resurgence on the international agenda, as is the need to develop stronger links between these forms of indigenous expertise and scientific discovery. This full day of presentations and lively debate involving indigenous knowledge holders and scientists (including indigenous scientists) from a wide range of natural and social science disciplines attracted a large audience and generated active discussion regarding a number of challenging issues. The event also provided the opportunity to launch the ICSU/UNESCO report entitled Science, Traditional Knowledge and Sustainable Development<//b>.

Some called for more exhaustive scientific verification, such as statistical analyses for traditional meteorological predictions, while others questioned the validity of science, which in today’s market-dominated world has increasingly become a subset of economics. In the education domain, indigenous spokes persons questioned whether attempts to ‘endogenise’ education might at times amount to little more than a ‘translation’ of Western ways and values. The need to develop appropriate and effective methods for recording, protecting, and revitalising indigenous knowledge was also a key concern.

Finally, participants recognised that both traditional knowledge systems and science, whether in the domains of environmental conservation, education, or medical practice, each had their place and that continuing their respectful coexistence, encouraging open dialogue, and strengthening synergies are mutually beneficial goals.

Co-organized by UNESCO-LINKS, Tebtebba Foundation, ICSU (International Council for Science) << Back


Press Release: Innovative measures required to protect indigenous knowledge
Official Summit Outcomes: Indigenous Issues
Report on the Parallel Event
Full ICSU Summary Report
Website: International Council for Science (ICSU)

Programme, Abstracts and Speaker Profiles

29 August 2002


Local & indigenous knowledge for environmental assessment

Farmers’ meteorological knowledge in Gujarat, India
P. Kanani
, Gujarat Agricultural University, India

Cree knowledge for comprehensive environmental, social and cultural impact assessment, James Bay (Quebec, Canada)
R. Saganash
, Grand Council of the Crees, Canada

Indigenous knowledge and foresight: A Cree elder’s environmental impact assessment
M. Roué
, CNRS/MNHN, France



Countering the erosion of knowledge: revitalizing transmission

Recognizing, promoting, protecting and integrating IKS into the mainstream
C. Odora-Hoppers, University of Pretoria, South Africa

The endogenisation of education in South Africa
O. Ntsoane
, North West University, South Africa

Culturally appropriate curricula and strategies for working with indigenous children and youth
S. Saemni
, Director, IMPECT, Thailand

Strengthening indigenous knowledge and traditional resource management through schools
R. Nari, Department of Environment and Conservation, VanuatuDiscussion



Session III
Keepers of traditional knowledge: issues of protection and sharing

On traditional medicine and medicinal plants
M. Addy
, COSTED, Ghana

Te Kete a Tini Rauhanga: A Mäori perspective
H. Kereopa
, Tuhoe Maori, Te Kapu a Rangi Trust, New Zealand

Te Kete a Tini Rauhanga investigation of the native medicinal flora used by Tuhoe Maori
M. Leach
, Waikato University, New Zealand

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