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Indigenous knowledge

Indigenous Knowledge and Science:

From Recognition to Knowledge Co-production

Wednesday 13 June, 16.00-18.00

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Session co-conveners:

  • Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the Third World Academy of Science
  • Douglas Nakashima, Chief, Section for Small Islands and Indigenous Knowledge, UNESCO


  • Myrna Cunningham, Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Executive Director, Centro para la Autonomía y Desarollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CADPI), Nicaragua
  • Roberto Marin, Asociación de Capitanes y AutoridadesTradicionales Indigenas del Pira Parana (ACAIPI), Columbia
  • Jaqueline Evangelista Dias, Articulação Pacari, Brazil (TBC)
  • Jennifer Rubis, Climate Frontlines coordinator, UNESCO
  • Joji Carino, TEBTEBBA (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education), Philippines


"We, the Indigenous Peoples, walk to the future in the footprints of our ancestors"

In Rio in 1992, Indigenous Peoples voiced their commitment to a sustainable future rooted in the knowledge and worldviews of their Elders. For the first time, the Rio ‘Earth Summit’ provided global recognition of the importance of local and indigenous knowledge, in particular through the Rio Conventions: the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD), the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and most recently the Cancun Agreements of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). During the two decades since Rio, indigenous knowledge has been debated in numerous international fora. Recognition has spread beyond issues of biodiversity and intellectual property to natural disaster preparedness, impact assessment, food security and climate change mitigation & adaptation. Today, in a context of accelerating ecological, socio-economic and political change, Indigenous Peoples continue to engage the global community in innovative actions that extend, beyond recognition, to joint action between Scientists and Indigenous Peoples in co-produce new knowledge in the face of emerging challenges.


Building upon the outcomes of the Planet Under Pressure session on Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainable Futures (London, 28 March 2012), this panel will consider how global environmental governance has been and continues to be transformed by an expanding engagement amongst local and indigenous knowledge holders, the scientific community and decision-makers. Indigenous panelists will analyze status and trends in the framework of the Rio Conventions, while case studies will consider enduring challenges and emerging issues with respect to knowledge protection, transmission and innovation. The panel will also explore the increasing collaborative engagement of indigenous and scientific knowledge holders in the equitable co-production of new knowledge to inform innovative solutions to complex sustainable development challenges.

Structure of the session:

Background and Objective of the Session: Manuela Carneiro da Cunha and Douglas Nakashima


  • Myrna Cunningham: Indigenous knowledge in the formal education system and a network of indigenous universities.
  • Roberto Marin: Traditional Knowledge and local research for the management of the Yurupari territory (northwest Amazon).
  • Jaqueline Evangelista Dias: A local community case study on community pharmacies and traditional medicinal plants in the Cerrado (TBC)
  • Jennifer Rubis: The participation of indigenous peoples at the UNFCCC and emerging issues
  • Joji Carino: Indigenous peoples' achievements in intergovernmental biodiversity agreements (CBD, Ramsar)


Photo:© Jennifer Rubis

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