Building peace in the minds of men and women

Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change

For over 350 million indigenous peoples worldwide, climate change impacts are expected to be early and severe due to their location in high risk environments. This includes nomadic pastoralists living along desert margins, horticulturalists and fishers in small and low-lying islands, farmers and pastoralists in high-altitudinal zones and hunters and herders across the circumpolar Arctic.

To face these challenges, indigenous peoples are mobilizing their in-depth knowledge of the territories that have been the source of their livelihoods for generations. Indigenous knowledge operates at a much finer spatial and temporal scale than science, and includes understandings of how to cope with and adapt to environmental variability and trends. Indigenous knowledge thus makes an important contribution to climate change policy, and Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate action; by observing changing climates, adapting to impacts and contributing to global mitigation efforts.

UNESCO's Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems programme (LINKS) promotes local and indigenous knowledge and its inclusion in global climate science and policy processes. Working at local, national and global levels, LINKS strives to strengthen indigenous peoples and local communities, foster transdisciplinary engagements with scientists and policy-makers and pilot novel methodologies to further understandings of climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation.