Scientists' Warning to Humanity on Threats to Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems

Type Article
Date 2021-07
Language English
Author(s) Fernández-Llamazares Álvaro1, Lepofsky Dana2, Lertzman Ken3, Armstrong Chelsey Geralda4, Brondizio Eduardo S.5, Gavin Michael C.6, Lyver Phil O'B.7, Nicholas George P.2, Pascua Pua'Ala8, Reo Nicholas J.9, Reyes-García Victoria10, Turner Nancy J.11, Yletyinen Johanna7, Anderson E. N.12, Balée William13, Cariño Joji14, David-Chavez Dominique M.15, Dunn Christopher P.16, Garnett Stephen C.17, Greening (la'Goot) Spencer2, (niniwum Selapem) Shain Jackson18, Kuhnlein Harriet19, Molnár Zsolt20, Odonne Guillaume21, Retter Gunn-Britt22, Ripple William J.23, Sáfián László24, Bahraman Abolfazl Sharifian25, Torrents-Ticó Miquel1, Vaughan Mehana Blaich26
Affiliation(s) 1 : Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, PO Box 65 (Viikinkaari 1), University of Helsinki, FI-00014, Helsinki, Finland.
2 : Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.
3 : School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.
4 : Indigenous Studies, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.
5 : Department of Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, IN.
6 : Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
7 : Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand.
8 : Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY.
9 : Dartmouth College, Native American Studies and Environmental Studies programs, Hanover, NH.
10 : Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA), Barcelona, Spain.
11 : Emeritus, School of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.
12 : University of California, Riverside, CA.
13 : Department of Anthropology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA.
14 : Forest Peoples' Programme, United Kingdom.
15 : Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
16 : Cornell Botanic Gardens, Ithaca, NY.
17 : Research Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia.
18 : Shain Jackson (Niniwum Selapem) shishálh First Nation, BC, Canada.
19 : Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE), McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
20 : Centre for Ecological Research, Vácrátót, Hungary.
21 : UMR 3456 LEEISA (Laboratoire Ecologie, Evolution, Interactions des Systèmes Amazoniens), CNRS, Université de Guyane, IFREMER, Cayenne, France.
22 : Arctic and Environmental Unit, Saami Council, Karasjok, Norway.
23 : Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.
24 : Traditional Shepherd, Hajdúsámson, Hungary.
25 : Range and Watershed Management Department, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Iran.
26 : Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Sea Grant College Program and Hui Āina Momona; University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, HI.
Source Journal Of Ethnobiology (0278-0771) (Society of Ethnobiology), 2021-07 , Vol. 41 , N. 2 , P. 144-169
DOI 10.2993/0278-0771-41.2.144
WOS© Times Cited 3
Keyword(s) biocultural conservation, cultural diversity, decolonization, Indigenous sovereignty, revitalization, social-ecological systems

The knowledge systems and practices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities play critical roles in safeguarding the biological and cultural diversity of our planet. Globalization, government policies, capitalism, colonialism, and other rapid social-ecological changes threaten the relationships between Indigenous Peoples and local communities and their environments, thereby challenging the continuity and dynamism of Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK). In this article, we contribute to the “World Scientists' Warning to Humanity,” issued by the Alliance of World Scientists, by exploring opportunities for sustaining ILK systems on behalf of the future stewardship of our planet. Our warning raises the alarm about the pervasive and ubiquitous erosion of knowledge and practice and the social and ecological consequences of this erosion. While ILK systems can be adaptable and resilient, the foundations of these knowledge systems are compromised by ongoing suppression, misrepresentation, appropriation, assimilation, disconnection, and destruction of biocultural heritage. Three case studies illustrate these processes and how protecting ILK is central to biocultural conservation. We conclude with 15 recommendations that call for the recognition and support of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and their knowledge systems. Enacting these recommendations will entail a transformative and sustained shift in how ILK systems, their knowledge holders, and their multiple expressions in lands and waters are recognized, affirmed, and valued. We appeal for urgent action to support the efforts of Indigenous Peoples and local communities around the world to maintain their knowledge systems, languages, stewardship rights, ties to lands and waters, and the biocultural integrity of their territories—on which we all depend.

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Fernández-Llamazares Álvaro, Lepofsky Dana, Lertzman Ken, Armstrong Chelsey Geralda, Brondizio Eduardo S., Gavin Michael C., Lyver Phil O'B., Nicholas George P., Pascua Pua'Ala, Reo Nicholas J., Reyes-García Victoria, Turner Nancy J., Yletyinen Johanna, Anderson E. N., Balée William, Cariño Joji, David-Chavez Dominique M., Dunn Christopher P., Garnett Stephen C., Greening (la'Goot) Spencer, (niniwum Selapem) Shain Jackson, Kuhnlein Harriet, Molnár Zsolt, Odonne Guillaume, Retter Gunn-Britt, Ripple William J., Sáfián László, Bahraman Abolfazl Sharifian, Torrents-Ticó Miquel, Vaughan Mehana Blaich (2021). Scientists' Warning to Humanity on Threats to Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems. Journal Of Ethnobiology, 41(2), 144-169. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :