Managing Biodiversity through local and indigenous systems of knowledge

Indigenous and local communities conserve and manage biodiversity – from plant varieties and animal races to entire landscapes - through dynamic sets of knowledge, practice and representations that are constantly renewed, refined and developed. They are part of a complex that also encompasses language, attachment to place, spirituality and worldview.

These unique ways of knowing are now widely recognised as essential building blocks for sustainable development and the joint conservation of biological and cultural diversity. Emerging on the international scene at the Earth Summit (Rio 1992), the domain has rapidly gained prominence and momentum notably through the Convention on Biodiversity, whose Article 8(j) incites State Parties to 'respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities'.

The Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) programme is a UNESCO interdisciplinary initiative that works to secure an active and equitable role for local communities in resource management, strengthens knowledge transmission across and within generations, and explores pathways to balance community-based knowledge with global knowledge in formal and non formal education. All of these activities contribute to the equitable and sustainable use and management of biodiversity.

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