Indigenous Knowledge and Changing Environments: Biological and cultural diversities in transition
International Experts Meeting
19 to 23 August 2007, Cairns Australia
An international experts meeting on "Indigenous Knowledge and Changing Environments" was organized by UNESCO’s programme on Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) in association with the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, from 19 to 23 August 2007 in Cairns, Australia. This event is supported by the Christensen Fund and jointly hosted by the Australian Tropical Forest Institute (ATFI) and the Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology of James Cook University. Against the backdrop of mounting international concern about the impacts of global climate change, specialists from both the natural and social sciences, and indigenous peoples, will come together to deliberate on past, current and future responses of local and indigenous communities to changing environments, as mediated by their indigenous knowledge.
Press release: Using 'old' knowledge on climate change
Programme | Participants list
Recent manifestations of the dynamism of the global environment, accompanied in some instances by considerable human suffering and loss of life (e.g. the Indian Ocean tsunami; violent tropical storms including Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico; El Nino events; extreme incidents of flooding and drought), have alerted the global community to the urgent need (i) to better understand these ‘natural’ phenomena,(ii) to enhance their monitoring and the prediction of impacts, (iii) to improve preparedness and response capacity at national and local levels, and (iv) to take action to constrain human activities that may exacerbate negative effects. In strategies for international intervention, local and/or indigenous communities have generally found themselves relegated to the category of victims of environmental change or natural disasters, objects of development aid and targets for capacity building. While their need for development assistance is very real, such a shallow characterization hides a more complex reality. Contrary to Occidental stereotypes of traditional cultures as timeless, a-historical and static, local and indigenous societies have continuously confronted and engaged with changing environments: as active agents of environmental transformation; as champions of coping, resilience and adaptation; or as observers of change processes and predictors of impacts. Faced with environmental variability in all of its diverse forms, including those related to climate change, it is important to better understand the diverse repertoire of responses that local and indigenous communities around the world have put into practice in the past and that they can bring to bear on environmental challenges in the future... >> more in concept note [pdf. 112Kb]
Hinchinbrook Island field trip photo
Back row, left to right: Professor Steve Turton, Australian Tropical Forest Institute (ATFI), James Cook University (JCU), Australia; Dr Marie Roue, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN), France; Mrs Pandya, Dr Vishvajit Pandya, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute, India; Dr Yoshitaka Ota, University of Kent, UK; Mr William Hyams, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation/JCU, Australia; Dr Simon Foale, JCU, Australia; Dr John Bradley, Monash University, Australia; Dr Edvard Hviding, University of Bergen, Norway; Dr Marcus Barber, JCU, Australia; Dr Joeli Veitayaki, University of the South Pacific, Fidji.
Middle row, left to right: Mr Troy Mallie, Aboriginal Rainforest Council (ARC), Australia; Dr Douglas Nakashima, UNESCO Links Programme, France; Ms Allison Halliday, Aboriginal Rainforest Council (ARC), Australia; Dr Akira Takada, Kyoto University, Japan; Dr William Balee, Tulane University, USA; Dr Rajindra Puri, University of Kent, UK; Ms Christine George, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, Australia; Mr Jim Walker, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia; Ms M'Lis Flynn, Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA), Aboriginal Resource Management Program, Australia; Dr Visesio Pongi, UNESCO, Samoa.
Front row, left to right: Dr Christine Kabuye, Makerere University, Uganda; Dr Lisa Hiwasaki