Valuing and protecting local knowledge

Summary

Ethnoscientific research has shown that traditional farmers are skilled observers of the natural environment, that they have vast reservoirs of empirical knowledge and that they are skilled at adapting that knowledge to changing contexts. Understanding local agricultural knowledge and recognizing the value of that knowledge is important for practical, epistemological and ethical reasons.
Protecting indigenous, traditional other forms of local knowledge is extremely important. This building block also shares some resources from organizations that work in this field.

Part of Solutions

  • Build a Farmer Research Network
  • Knowledge democracy, or cognitive justice

  • Photos

    • Tejiendos vidas

    Resources

    • Biocultural Heritage: Promoting resilient farming systems and local economies

      website of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

    • Protecting community rights over traditional knowledge

      Since January 2005, this action-research project has focused on developing alternative tools to protect traditional knowledge which are rooted in local customary laws rather than based on existing Intellectual Property standards. Existing IPRs (eg. patents, copyrights) are largely unsuitable for protecting rights over traditional knowledge because they provide commercial incentives, whereas traditional innovations are driven primarily by subsistence needs. Survival from nature requires continual access to new knowledge and innovations – ie. collective rather than exclusive rights. To sustain biodiversity-based lifestyles, communities need to maintain control over their knowledge and related bio-resources and prevent others from unfairly exploiting or appropriating them, while taking advantage of market opportunities themselves. This report provides Key Findings and Recommendations from the project so far; and includes case studies summaries from Peru, Kenya, Panama, China and India.

    • FAO document: Territorial development and local knowledge systems