Maximizing Indigenous Knowledge For Climate Adaptation

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Maximizing Indigenous Knowledge For Climate Adaptation

Indigenous people are usually those on the frontlines of climate change.

With their strong connection to the land and environment, they possess resilience and indigenous knowledge that enable them to adapt or cope with climate change impacts.

However, many tribal communities are struggling with the effects of climate change, land use changes, and industrial development. Their resilience is threatened due to a lack of funding, technical resources, and historical experiences of marginalisation and discrimination.

Indigenous knowledge contribution in mitigating and adapting to climate change and biodiversity conservation also needs more recognition and support.

The article from Mongabay presents three new studies that delved into the indigenous people’s knowledge of climate change and its impacts, how they adapt to it, and their vulnerability to industrial development.

The first study was released on 9 August and coincided with the International Day of Indigenous Peoples. The International study led by Victoria Reyes-García, ICREA researcher at ICTA-UAB, the Local Indicators of Climate Change Impacts (LICCI) project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC), has spent five years analysing 52 case studies in indigenous and local communities around the world and providing detailed data on how Indigenous Peoples and local communities perceive and respond to the impacts of climate change in their territories.

According to researchers, Indigenous Peoples (IP) and local communities worldwide have a rich and extensive general knowledge of climate change impacts and possible ways to adapt and urged for more recognition of this knowledge from scientists and policymakers.

IP and locals are also disproportionately affected by climate change, and their livelihoods depend on their environment. Historical marginalisation and inequities have made them more vulnerable to climate change impacts. However, their connection with their natural habitat gives them a rich and nuanced knowledge of climate change impact and adaptation methods.

Hence, researchers claim that “as legitimate custodians of knowledge regarding climate change and its impacts on the local environment, Indigenous Peoples and local communities should have a more central role in the scientific and political processes of understanding and adapting to climate change” and call for institutions involved in assessing impacts and designing adaptation policies and plans at local, national, and international levels to incorporate them into decision-making.

Learn more about the study: The voices of indigenous peoples and local communities as an important part of the climate fight

The second study published in Nature notes that integrating into policy the values that the indigenous people tend to hold is crucial to support the transformative changes needed to achieve more sustainable futures.

Around the world, people value nature in diverse and profound ways that extend far beyond their economic value, but key political and economic decisions do not reflect this.

Instead, it places greater emphasis on short-term profits and economic growth at the expense of non-market values like adaptation to climate change or nourishing cultural identities, creating a “value crisis” – a narrow set of values unfit to solve the dual environmental crises of biodiversity and climate change loss.

“Indigenous and local knowledge are embodied in different philosophies of good living around the world underpinned by relational values as the basis for collective people–nature well-being, including through concepts such as Buen vivir in South America, Ubuntu in sub-Saharan Africa and Satoyama in Japan,” the authors say.

Read the study: Diverse values of nature for sustainability

The third study points to the rising threats on indigenous lands by industrial development, which also curtails climate adaptation.

According to the study, indigenous people’s lands are essential for conservation and socio-ecological well-being, but industrial development threatens these lands.

To assess the vulnerability and risk of converting these lands, the authors create an index based on Indigenous Peoples’ rights, representation, and the capital available to support conservation and sustainable development.

The result shows that nearly 60% of Indigenous Peoples’ lands (22.7 million km2) are threatened in 64 countries. Among the 37 countries with the highest threat, socio-economic and political vulnerabilities increase conversion risk, particularly the limited recognition and protection of territorial rights.

The study suggests strategies and actions to bolster Indigenous Peoples‘ self-determination, fairness, and leadership to reduce this risk and foster socio-ecological well-being.

Read the study: Indigenous Peoples’ lands are threatened by industrial development; conversion risk assessment reveals need to support Indigenous stewardship


Cuffe, S. (2023, 9 August). Three new studies on Indigenous conservation for International Indigenous Peoples Day. Mongabay. Retrieved from

The voices of indigenous peoples and local communities as an important part of the climate fight. (2023 9 August). Eureka Alert. Retrieved from

Pascual, U., Balvanera, P., Anderson, C. B., Chaplin-Kramer, R., Christie, M., González-Jiménez, D., Martin, A., Raymond, C. M., Termansen, M., Vatn, A., Athayde, S., Baptiste, B., Barton, D. N., Jacobs, S., Kelemen, E., Kumar, R., Lazos, E., Mwampamba, T. H., Nakangu, B., & O’Farrell, P. (2023). Diverse values of nature for sustainability. Nature, 1–11.

Christina K., Brandie F., James O., Stephen G., Álvaro F.-L., Julia Fa., Sharon B.-M., Joseph K. (2023). PDF Figures Save Share Reprints Request Indigenous Peoples’ lands are threatened by industrial development; conversion risk assessment reveals need to support Indigenous stewardship. One Earth,

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