UNESCO ROSA will host a participatory webinar on Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Risk Management on 23 November 2020

UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (UNESCO ROSA) will host a participatory webinar on Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Risk Management on 23 November 2020 from 14:00 to 16:00 (Harare time). This webinar will present studies demonstrating the synergies between indigenous and local knowledge systems and climate services and adaptation. In addition, the webinar will provide a platform to explore potential activities to strengthen indigenous knowledge systems for co-creation of climate services, especially to improve water resources management and disaster risk reduction.

Southern Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in the world, particularly because of widespread poverty, recurrent droughts, inequitable land distribution, dependence on rain-fed agriculture and adaptive capacity that is being challenged by climate change. In the face of global climate change and its emerging challenges and unknowns, it is essential that decision makers formulate policies based on the best available knowledge, including indigenous and local knowledge (ILK).

In recent years, indigenous and local knowledge has been increasingly recognised as an important source of climate knowledge and adaptation strategies. ILK refers to the understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings. The communities, particularly those in hazard-prone areas, have developed a good understanding and knowledge of disaster prevention and mitigation, early warning, preparedness and response, and post disaster recovery. This knowledge is based on facts that are known or learnt from experience or acquired through observation and practice, and is handed down from generation to generation. Indigenous and local knowledge can thus make an important contribution to climate change policy and Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate action; by observing changing climates, evolving methods to convert observation and knowledge into relevant data, adapting to impacts and contributing to global mitigation efforts.

UNESCO‘s Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems programme (LINKS) promotes local and indigenous knowledge and its inclusion in global climate science and policy processes. Working at local, national and global levels, LINKS strives to strengthen indigenous peoples and local communities, foster transdisciplinary engagements with scientists, policy-makers, and pilot novel methodologies to further understandings of climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation. Against this background, the UNESCO’s project on Enhancing Climate Services for Improved Water Management (CliMWaR) is integrating ILK with scientific knowledge through engagement with local communities via a participatory approach and citizen science to monitor floods and droughts, and to support climate change adaptation strategies among target indigenous communities. A good understanding of ILK and practices of communities will enable policy planners, climate specialists, and ILK holders to create collaboration initiatives between ILK and scientific knowledge.