24.10.2016 - UNESCO Office in New Delhi

Workshop on Mainstreaming Traditional Knowledge to support Climate Change Adaptation Policies

UNESCO-IFMR LEAD joint workshop on “Mainstreaming Traditional Knowledge (TK) to support Climate Change Adaptation Policies” was held in Savera Hotel, Chennai on October 4, 2016. Fully recognizing the importance of traditional knowledge (TK) or Indigenous Knowledge (IK), now commonly referred as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and its invaluable role in adaptation to climate change (CC) variations, the workshop brought together around 25 experts from Government/research institutions and NGOs. The objective of the workshop was to present and receive inputs to strengthen the role of TK in climate change adaptation by integrating TK in climate research and resource planning and to explore strategies to incorporate TK into climate change assessments, policy and adaptation efforts at local level including gender concerns.  

Ms Sharon Buteau, Executive Director, IFMR Lead in her welcome address, emphasized that local communities have solutions to rising environmental and climate change problems. Dr Rajagopalan, Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, Government of India and Senior Advisor, IFMR LEAD, in his opening remarks, highlighted the importance of documentation of TK through PBRs, Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), food security, drug discovery, scientific validation, building resilience to CC etc. 

Dr  Mitrasen Bhikajee, Head of the Natural Sciences, UNESCO, New Delhi, in his address, pointed out that the workshop was well-timed and coincided with India’s ratification of the Paris agreement on Climate Change on October 2, 2016. He remarked that it would be one of the best opportunities to jointly work on a suitable proposal that looks at incorporating the traditional Indian knowledge to find solutions to adapt to climate change impacts. 

Dr Uma Ramachandran, Senior Research Manager, IFMR LEAD in her introductory remarks, outlined the linkages between TK and CC, knowledge gaps in addressing TK and CC adaptation, to set the pointers for discussion. This was followed by open discussion moderated by Dr. Mitrasen Bikhajee and Dr. Ram Boojh. 

The deliberations focused on arriving at a broad understanding of a framework/ methodology of a joint programme to be undertaken in the climatically vulnerable grids of Western Ghats, specially in the State of Tamil Nadu. The project focus and study site should be in line with UNESCO’s mandate and UNESCO Sites including the UNESCO hotspots. It was decided to select Thambarabarani river basin which combines most of elements of TK and biodiversity and also have vulnerable communities. Two UNESCO biosphere Reserves, Gulf of Mannar and Agasthyamalai also fall in the area.  The workshop also discussed about the Trans-boundary Biodiversity management issues such as Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve in India and Sri Lanka (proposed).

The major outputs envisaged through this research project would be documentation of TK specifically from a climate change perspective and mainstream it into policies at state and local level. The workshop participants also felt that the long term goal of the project should be to link TK with CC research and adaptation and generate meaningful case examples related to protection of TK as well as CC adaptation. 




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