Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Integrating Indigenous Knowledge in climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies


INDIGENOUS knowledge (IK) can be broadly defined as a set of knowledge that local communities may have accumulated and use over generations in any given environment.
This definition could cover all forms of knowledge; technologies, skills, practices, beliefs, and so on that may enable these communities to sustain their livelihoods.
IK is still intact among local communities in many parts of Papua New Guinea.
Using such knowledge has made it possible for the local communities to live in harmony with their environment for generations and has guided them on how to utilise their natural resources in a sustainable manner.  
Rural farmers from Huon district of Morobe province undergoing training in simple food processing skills at NARI Momase Regional Centre - Bubia, supported through an imitative of Bris Kanda, a local NGO

Such knowledge has been developed by people through experience and continued to accumulate and use what worked for them.
IK is becoming useful, especially when dealing with issues like climate change.
Researchers and others concerned are now realising how local knowledge can enhance scientific knowledge while devising strategies to cope with climate change related effects.
 Options are being explored to integrate IK with external knowledge.
Mitigation and adaptation efforts are the two options being pursued to address climate change. Mitigation efforts relates to our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the huge amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Adaptation efforts recognise the risks and the fact that the climate will continue to change. Adaptation efforts are looking at ways to adjust existing or expected effects that climate change will have in our communities.
Both actions are considered equally important and challenging.
They require a significant amount of attention, direct response, policies, plans and implementation strategies, across all levels.
Promoting the use of renewable energy sources or planting trees on grass lands is a mitigation act, while an adaptation action may involve sharing information so that local communities can better respond and adjust to the likely effects of climate change.
This information needs to be relevant and easily understood and adopted for communities to participate fully in any efforts to mitigate and adapt to the likely effects of climate induced stresses.
Adaptation and mitigation actions are required at community levels to ensure they are part of our efforts to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
To this, we must also take note of the existing local knowledge.
Many communities have already adapted to their environment.
They have adapted to extreme conditions, and have developed ways to grow crops in very dry or very wet land.
Researchers are now also realising how this indigenous knowledge can enhance scientific knowledge.
Researchers are acknowledging that IK has provided communities with the skills and experience of dealing with past and present effects of climate related and other stresses.
 It is on this basis that efforts are being made to integrate IK into formal climate change mitigation and adaptation options.
This approach is something that we can also consider for own efforts here.
Local communities in PNG may have preserved and apply traditional knowledge on mitigating and adapting to effects of natural disasters and other climate related stresses.
We have to look at the benefits of integrating IK into the formal climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
 Integrating IK could add value to the development of sustainable climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies that are rich in local content and developed in conjunction with local people.
We also have to take the bottom-up approach to encourage local participation.
Communities should be encouraged to understand the concepts and learn how to analyse and develop ways to cope with the changing conditions rather than providing them with ready-made recipes.
We need to understand how communities and households interact and share ideas, and how the intended beneficiaries develop the skills and practices necessary to forge their own path.
 It is vital that the local communities should be seen as equal partners in any efforts to addressing the likely effects of climate change.
Local actors should be encouraged to take the lead while efforts should be made to support their efforts to take more responsibility in their efforts to cope with the likely effects climate related stresses.
 IK continues to play significant roles in local communities, thus efforts must be made to utilise existing knowledge and strengthen them where required.
The impacts of climate change induced stresses vary from location to location (and country to country) depending on its natural and socio-economic conditions.
Thus it is important that we must make efforts to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies locally taking into consideration existing local knowledge.
Past experiences and the socio-cultural background of communities should also be taken into consideration.
It is also vital that these must be documented and shared with other communities that are likely to face similar situations.
While we note that IK alone is unlikely to provide all the necessary solutions, it is important this are integrated with scientific knowledge in our efforts to mitigate and adapt to the likely effects of climate change.
Various studies and efforts are being made by different organisations on the likely effects of climate change in PNG and we hope the importance of IK is taken into consideration and local communities are engaged in such efforts.

No comments:

Post a Comment