Indigenous knowledge and implications for the sustainable development agenda
This paper attempts to explore how indigenous peoples respond to ecological and development challenges and how their cultures and knowledge systems can contribute to the sustainable development agenda. At first, it will look at the characteristics of indigenous knowledge and at indigenous peoples’ notions of development to understand the concepts in which traditional knowledge is rooted. Then, it will analyse the means of knowledge maintenance and transmission, with a particular focus on the importance of women and elders and on the ambivalent role played by formal education. After that, it will explore the relationship between indigenous knowledge, sustainable practices and land and resource management, looking at the role of community and women as well as at new alternative strategies for sustainable development implemented by some indigenous groups. The paper will then look at the contribution of indigenous knowledge to climate change adaptation and to disaster risk reduction. This will be followed by an analysis of the impact of mitigation strategies on indigenous populations and on the necessity of guaranteeing full access to land and justice to allow indigenous peoples to fully realise their rights. The paper will conclude with a reflection on the importance of having an integrated system of knowledge, in which indigenous peoples will have the opportunity not only to share their experiences to overcome future challenges, but also to become active agents of change by being involved in the decision making processes.