The inaugural Asian Conference on Biocultural Diversity, held from 27 to 29 October in Nanao City, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, culminated with the adoption of the 2016 Ishikawa Declaration on Biocultural Diversity. More than 500 attendees from 37 countries agreed to promote local platforms for dialogue, mutual learning, and partnerships in Asia.
In Asia, it is often the case that local communities inherit the traditional knowledge systems needed to maintain and utilise local natural resources in a sustainable manner. These knowledge systems and local ecosystems co-evolve over time, bridging nature and human culture.
The conference, organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), and Ishikawa Prefectural Government, acknowledged the importance of encouraging integrated approaches to conservation, as well as sustainable and equitable use of local biological and cultural resources to further vitalise communities.
Through the declaration, conference participants committed to the promotion of mutual learning among communities, especially through the effective implementation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) programme, UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere programme, Global Geoparks, and World Heritage sites, among others. The conference also highlighted the need to support platforms to foster dialogues and collaboration among citizens, local and traditional communities, municipalities, and private enterprises.
In his keynote speech, Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi (UNU-IAS) introduced the rich satoyama–satoumi landscapes of Ishikawa Prefecture, including those of Noto and Mount Hakusan, as a GIAHS site and MAB Biosphere Reserve, calling for further implementation of their conservation and the wise use of local biocultural diversity.
Dr. Blaurio de Ferreira de Souza Dias (CBD Secretariat) emphasised cultural and biological diversity as a shared global heritage; while Dr. Flavia Schlegel (UNESCO) called for a holistic approach to address the global erosion of diversity, and emphasised the role of local authorities in promoting integrated strategies.
For more information, see the news story on the UNU-IAS website.