Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Traditional Knowledge? A Seat at the Table

Published: January 20, 2011, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

A central question raised by indigenous peoples involved in Climate Change treaty talks has been, “will traditional knowledge and cultural standards as reflected in local rules and regulations become a part of the global mosaic of mitigation and adaptation practices to respond to the adverse affects of climate change.”

The price for a seat at the negotiating table is demonstrated benefits from the application of traditional knowledge to mitigating or adaption to the adverse affects of climate change.

We at the Center for World Indigenous Studies recognize the special significance of traditional knowledge and cultural standards for adaption and mitigation strategies. The discussion must be elevated so that findings and contributions from indigenous peoples’ sciences can reach a broader level of understanding.  Even if traditional knowledge or cultural standards are only applicable to a local setting or ecosystem (and we must stipulate that such will likely be true more commonly than not) I suggest that defining knowledge systems, cultural standards and methods of cultural enforcement and strategies responding to climate change are essential ingredients for constructive negotiations at the Treaty Table.

It is essential that indigenous peoples with mature, developed ideas, and experience contribute to the growing dialogue. Achieving a “seat at the table” is essential, but to secure the seat effectively we must have substantive contributions to the discussion. We must explain how traditional knowledge benefits adaptation strategies for concrete responses to the adverse affects of climate change. In addition to the policy, we must have demonstrated and practical knowledge to support our claims for traditional knowledge and cultural standards.

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