IPBES Workshop on Indigenous & Local Knowledge Systems Held at UNU


  • 2013•07•12     Tokyo

    On 9–11 June 2013, the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) hosted an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) International Expert and Stakeholder Workshop on the Contribution of Indigenous & Local Knowledge Systems to IPBES. This workshop, convened by the IPBES Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP), was co-organized by the Japan Ministry of the Environment and UNESCO.

    A total of 45 experts and stakeholders from around the world participated in this three-day workshop, which sought to:

    • examine and identify procedures and approaches for working with indigenous and local knowledge systems in the framework of IPBES, and
    • review and assess possible conceptual frameworks for the work of IPBES that are based on or accommodate indigenous and local knowledge systems and worldview.

    In his high-level welcoming message on the opening day of the workshop, UNU Senior-Vice-Rector Kazuhiko Takeuchi highlighted the key role that UNU has played and continues to play in the formation and functioning of the IPBES.

    Kazunori Tanaka, Senior Vice-Minister for the Environment, Government of Japan, declared that IPBES is in a unique and ideal position to contribute to finding solutions for global environmental problems.

    IPBES Chair Zakri Abdul Hamid commented on the growing agreement between indigenous and scientific knowledge systems and institutions, citing examples of successful engagements between scientists and indigenous communities to deal with environmental crises.

    Other speakers included Kazuo Todani, Director of the Research and Development Bureau (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan); Bertie Xavier, a representative of Guyana at the local and indigenous level and member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII); and Dr. Salvatore Arico, Coordinator, Biodiversity Initiative, Natural Science Sector of UNESCO.

    Within the context of the workshop’s two main objectives, the programmes and activities provided a platform for experts to discuss, inquire, deliberate and share knowledge and experience (past and present). This was done through panel discussions, case study presentations, working groups, and thematic and reporting-back sessions. Through these processes, experts and stakeholders exchanged knowledge on successful and unsuccessful cases of synergistic relationships on indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) systems and institutions and scientific systems as they relate to ecosystem and biodiversity assessments, conservation and management.

    The key themes that formed the basis for discussions were related to contribution of Indigenous Local Knowledge (ILK) to IPBES; scoping experiences, methodologies and emerging opportunities for bridging across knowledge systems; conceptual frameworks; engagement of ILK holders in IPBES and its functions; and gaps, needs and opportunities with respect to procedures and approaches for working with ILK in the framework of IPBES.

    In deliberations during the workshop, the expert group identified approaches and procedures for working with ILK holders, discussed the current conceptual framework of the IPBES and proposed recommendations for consideration by MEP.

    The expert group agreed that an IPBES conceptual framework should accommodate indigenous and local knowledge and worldviews. Recommendations on the Work Programme included establishment of an [interim] working group on synergizing ILK and science at all levels and incorporating ILK into the IPBES four functions (assessment, capacity building; knowledge generation and policy support).

    The final output document will be submitted to the IPBES Plenary-2, in December in Turkey, as a key information document.