Traditional knowledge: From environmental management to territorial development

Since the advent of the global economy, local forms of knowledge and practices related to the utilization of natural resources have tended towards an increased homogenization, which in turn has determined a reduction of both the biological and cultural diversity associated with that knowledge and those practices. There is a growing recognition that, on one side, the full body of knowledge embedded in traditional practices associated with natural resource management constitutes a vital heritage that should be preserved and enhanced; and, on the other side, that reduced diversity (biological and cultural) makes the world and its inhabitants increasingly vulnerable to natural and human-induced changes. The past decades have therefore seen a rise of interest in the biological and cultural dimensions of diversity, the interactions between them and their connection to social and economic development (Persic and Martin, 2008). This has resulted in an increased awareness of the crucial role that traditional knowledge plays in sustainable development. In this context, national and international policy processes for the protection of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities are under way in various fora. At the international level, these include, inter alia, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the World Intellectual Property Organization, the World Trade Organization, the Convention on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Related Subject(s): Democracy and Governance
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