Interfacing, not Integrating: Reshaping Government Approaches to Traditional Knowledge

Date and Time: 
Friday, 17 May, 2013 - 20:10 to 20:30

It is widely acknowledged that the adaptive capacity and resilience of communities around the world can be strengthened through the application of the traditional knowledge and past experiences of indigenous people. However, a number of barriers have prevented the effective use of this knowledge. Perhaps the greatest impediment is that typical approaches to traditional knowledge have focused on “integrating” this knowledge into Western science, violating its integrity and reducing its value. Climate adaptation requires a participatory stakeholder-based approach that allows every party to make recommendations, rather than to amass their knowledge into one “database” that is processed by only one party. We describe an improved government approach to indigenous climate adaptation in which tribal holders of information can work side-by-side with western scientists to inform decision makers, rather than frameworks in which the insights gained from traditional knowledge are forced to adhere to the requirements of western scientific methods.