Why Biocultural Assessments?
The social and political complexity of climate change and its impacts, and the predictive limits of mainstream global models suggests that local initiatives which use wider and locally contextualized frameworks are necessary contributions for understanding change to assess impacts and develop appropriate response strategies. The IPCCA has developed an indigenous biocultural approach for conducting assessments of climate change and its challenges to indigenous communities. Indigenous knowledge and practices have historically produced resilient landscapes and territories, but climate change threatens this resilience. Assessments of conditions and trends are producing evidence of the use of indigenous knowledge for responding to extreme climatic events, developing strategies that can build resilience and support adaptation to safeguard rights and promote well-being. Our biocultural approach is based on an indigenous vision of an interconnected world, in which the bio-physical, socio-cultural and spiritual all play an important role in maintaining resilience through the guiding principle of reciprocity. Such a contextualised indigenous approach is able to provide evidence where global models and processes fall short. Through linking local biocultural realities with complex global processes, the IPCCA assessments are providing indigenous communities with the necessary tools and methods to deal with the threat of climate change.
In line with the main objective of the IPCCA to empower indigenous peoples to assess the impacts of climate change on their communities and ecosystems through using their own biocultural frameworks a strategy was developed that includes three parallel processes to build response strategies and policy recommendations on multiple scales.
The three parallel IPCCA processes:
- Local Assessments to be carried out by communities using indigenous inquiry methods to understand the impacts of climate change on their biocultural systems and build appropriate adaptation strategies.
- A Global Assessment to be carried out by Working Groups focusing on how global processes and drivers of climate change impact upon indigenous peoples.
- Secretariat coordination between local partners and working groups, and management of the Indigenous Knowledge Base Portal to ensure that local and global processes complement and build on each other as they progress.
The three processes are shown to be occurring simultaneously, the red arrows indicate the flow of information and knowledge between them. Information from global and local assessments will feed into an indigenous knowledge base portal which is in construction and will be managed by the Secretariat. Each process will produce reports at specific points throughout the process, formally facilitating knowledge exchange. Simultaneously the Secretariat will coordinate development of synthesis reports to feed into international climate change science and policy development processes. The first synthesis report will be presented at the UNFCCC COP 16 in December 2010, focusing on indigenous knowledge and extreme climatic events.
Strategic Policy Goals
The parallel processes of the IPCCA will all feed into reaching strategic goals related to indigenous rights and policy, such as:
- First and foremost, the IPCCA process will support indigenous rights over territory and resources, thus ensuring the conditions within which resilient indigenous systems can continue to foster biocultural diversity and protect fragile and biodiverse ecosystems.
- An important goal of the Local Assessments undertaken under the IPCCA is to empower indigenous communities to develop adaptation plans that are culturally appropriate. These adaptation plans are part of life plans, and the IPCCA will seek to engender direct funding opportunities through climate change adaptation funding and other sources to ensure locally appropriate response strategies.
- The IPCCA processes will illustrate the critical role that indigenous knowledge plays in dealing with current challenges such as extreme climatic events. Further, the IPCCA will seek recognition of the role of indigenous knowledge in order to ensure its integration into national policies such as preparation of National Adaptation Plans of Action and international policies for adaptation financing and other arenas such as the CBD, FAO, UNFCCC and other processes related to indigenous peoples.
- The IPCCA also aims towards furthering an indigenous agenda within the wider climate justice and equity agenda, with particular focus on gender roles and recognizing and supporting effective participation of women in mitigation and adaptation responsibilities.
To guide the three parallel IPCCA processes, a conceptual framework has been developed, based on indigenous interpretations of local biocultural territories, indigenous resilience and well-being or buen vivir, and understanding climate change as a manifestation of interactions between direct and indirect drivers and processes of global change.
The direct and indirect drivers of climate change impact the buen vivir and indigenous resilience that together form a holistic biocultural system. Examples of the key elements that work towards indigenous resilience and buen vivir, as well as the processes and trends considered to be drivers (for example; economic and socio political trends, traditional resource rights policies, scientific and technological trends are indirect drivers while global consumption and production patterns, land conversion patterns, environmental degradation are direct drivers) are included as guidelines for local assessment partners. The arrows connecting direct and indirect drivers with the local Biocultural system and its indigenous buen vivir/resilience show interactions across time and space, providing a means for conceptualizing how processes on multiple scales and with different time-space distributions interact with elements of the Biocultural system. All arrows are double headed, indicating the mutual relationship between processes and elements of the Biocultural system.