Indigenous Knowledge

Source: Third World Network
This 2003 article argues that while recent years have seen an increasing appreciation of the importance of indigenous knowledge (IK), developing countries are paid only a minute fraction of the value for the raw materials and knowledge they contribute to international industries. (pdf) [see more]
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 'local and indigenous knowledge' refers to the cumulative and complex bodies of knowledge, know-how, practices and representations that are maintained and developed by peoples with extended histories of interactions with the natural environment. These cognitive systems are part of a complex that also includes language, attachment to place, spirituality and worldview (UNESCO). These knowledge systems have recently gained recognition, especially for their contribution to environmentally sustainable resource use and the conservation of biodiversity.

However, indigenous knowledge is also being appropriated by external entities seeking to gain profits that in general are not channeled back into the indigenous communities. The culturally western-based system of patent rights as laid out in the WTO's TRIPS agreement, for example, to a large part ignores the customary laws practiced by indigenous communities, making it extremely difficult for them to claim any rights over their accumulated knowledge. It limits their possibilities of using local resources in ways they see fit and allows for outside use of these resources in manners which the indigenous communities may deem offensive.

The future of indigenous knowledge is further endangered by the marginalization of indigenous people in terms of education. For reasons such as discrimination and remoteness, many indigenous children lack access to formal education which in turn leads to further marginalization. Moreover, the education provided in formal education systems tends to fail in providing for indigenous childrens' specific needs and ignore the importance of maintaining and disseminating indigenous knowledge.

(See also 'Indigenous peoples and globalization')
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Wednesday, April 23 2008
IPRs and biodiversity: Stop the theft of indigenous knowledge
(Source: Third World Network)
more on this issue

Indigenous knowledge systems

Dominant knowledge systems and local knowledge (Mountain Forum)

World Bank Indigenous Knowledge (IK) Program (World Bank)

UNESCO database of best practices on indigenous knowledge (UNESCO)

Indigenous Water Initiative

Science and Development Network

Indigenous agricultural and environmental knowledge systems (Columbia University)

Center for Indigenous Knowledge for Agriculture and Rural Development (Iowa State University)

UNESCO Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) Programme (UNESCO)

Information resources (Indigenous Knowledge and Peoples Network)

Protection of indigenous cultures

Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (Choike)

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (Choike)

Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO)

Indigenous people and education

The Coolangatta Statement On Indigenous Peoples' Rights in Education (Tebtebba)

Bringing education back into the mainstream of indigenous peoples' lives (Tebtebba)

Indigenous people and Millennium Development Goals related to eduaction (International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA))

Indigenous children and youth (UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues)

The rights of indigenous children (UN)

Ensuring the rights of indigenous children (UNICEF)

Indigenous and Tribal Children: Assessing child labour and education challenges (ILO)

Education for work, employment and rights of the indigenous people (ILO)

UNESCO: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Eduacation (UNESCO)

Indigenous Peoples' Global Research and Education Network (IPGREN) (Tebtebba)

Indigenous knowledge systems and biodiversity

Traditional knowledge and the Convention on Biological Diversity (Convention on Biological Diversity)

Traditional knowledge information portal (Convention on Biological Diversity)

The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity

Indigenous people and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Tebtebba)

Group of Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries

Center for Biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous people and intellectual property rights

Choike In-depth Report: Access to knowledge (Choike)

Intellectual property rights and the TRIPS Agreement (WTO)

TRIPS Article 27.3(b) on traditional knowledge and biodiversity (WTO)

Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources and Traditional Cultural Expressions/Folklore (WIPO)

WIPO Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities (WIPO)

TRIPS and its potential impacts on indigenous peoples (Tebtebba)

Call of the Earth

Biodiversity, access, indigenous knowledge and IPRs (Third World Network)

American Association for the Advancement of Science project on traditional knowledge (American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS))

PTO rejection of the 'ayahuasca' patent claim (Center for International Environmental Law)

Biopiracy in the Amazon (

IPRs and biodiversity: Stop the theft of indigenous knowledge (Third World Network)

Indigenous people and ICT

Global Forum of Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society (Aboriginal Canada Portal)

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