Bildtext får vara max två rader text. Hela texten ska högerjusteras om den bara ska innehålla fotobyline! Photo: B. Christensen/Azote
INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL KNOWLEDGE
Why we need a more inclusive approach to transformation research
- Most solutions are often influenced by Western scientific knowledge, with insufficient attention to power and plurality
- Indigenous and local knowledge still not acknowledged as relevant knowledge systems
- A more inclusive understanding of transformations is both ethically required and needed
Indigenous and local knowledge still not acknowledged despite offering a more diverse understanding of sustainability transformations
POWER AND PLURALITY: For more than two decades, sustainability transformation research has tried to understand how to foster just, equitable and sustainable futures through large system changes.
However, most solutions are often influenced by Western scientific knowledge, and seem to pay insufficient attention to issues of power and plurality.
Other types of knowledge systems, such as indigenous and local knowledge (ILK), are increasingly considered in sustainability science thanks to their holistic understanding of social-ecological systems.
Nevertheless, they remain largely absent from transformation research.
In a study published in Ecology and Society, centre researcher Maria Tengö along with colleagues from the Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research at the Leuphana University Lüneburg, argue that a more inclusive understanding of transformations is both ethically required and needed to foster sustainability on a local and global level.
Local, place-based character, indigenous and local knowledge can substantially contribute to a more plural understanding of transformations, including the IPBES assessment of transformative change.
Maria Tengö, co-author
Still in its infancy
ILK consists of a rich body of knowledge, practices, and beliefs about human-nature connectedness, and is handed down through generations by cultural, often oral transmission.
Through a systematic literature review of ILK in contexts of transformation, transition, and change, the authors conclude that the engagement of ILK in sustainability transformation research is still in its infancy.
Reasons for this include the lack of acknowledgement of ILK as an equally relevant knowledge system, and the diverse and mostly qualitative methodological approaches to data collection which make investigating and understanding ILK a complex task.
Dismantling power balances
Tengö and her colleagues argue that alternative understandings of transformations have the potential to relate the values, contexts, worldviews, and cultures of indigenous peoples and local communities to the transformative discourse.
This could inform areas such as in environmental governance, climate change, conservation, and resource management research.
The authors point to concrete research activities such as collaboration and consultation with indigenous communities and ILK experts as entry points to alternative ways of describing, understanding and talking about transformation.
They furthermore stress that this type of active engagement is essential to dismantle the power imbalance between ILK and scientific knowledge.
Tengö concludes: "It is important – and valuable – to be inclusive to different kinds of engagement with sustainability transformations to avoid a supremacy of Western scientific knowledge systems in identifying and prioritizing ways forward."
To identify the existing body of research on ILK in sustainability transformation research, the authors conducted a systematic literature review. First, the authors searched for primary research articles on ILK and sustainability transformation in the Scopus database, using a search string consisting of two main elements: transformation, and ILK. The search returned 592 papers, of which a final 81 empirical papers were selected.
A qualitative content analysis was then conducted, and the content coded using the software MAXQDA, where general paper characteristics, methodological approach, location of case study and occurrence and use of the terms transformations and ILK and their synonyms were extracted.
Lam, D., E. Hinz, D. Lang, M. Tengö, H. von Wehrden, and B. Martín-López. 2020. Indigenous and local knowledge in sustainability transformations research: a literature review. Ecology and Society 25(1):3.
For more information about the study, please contact Maria Tengö:
Research news | 2021-11-25
Nine ways to produce more sustainable and affordable blue food
Greater attention should be paid to improving the productivity and environmental performance of affordable and accessible aquatic species
Research news | 2021-11-24
Carl Folke awarded the Prince Albert I Grand Medal 2021
Praised for his pioneering work in resilience thinking and sustainability of the ocean
Research news | 2021-11-23
Resilient futures in the Bahamas
New study on Andros Island in the Bahamas shows the power of using scenarios for sustainable development planning
Research news | 2021-11-23
Why forest owners should consider mixed forests or continuous cover forestry
Increased resilience to storms comes at the expense of private economic return, but forest owners of highly vulnerable land may profit from mixed forests and continuous cover forestry
Research news | 2021-11-18
Helping design smarter urban green spaces
New climate platform offers residents in Stockholm suburb real-time access to how greeneries influence local weather conditions
Research news | 2021-11-17
Centre researchers among world's most cited again
Carl Folke, Johan Rockström, Reinette “Oonsie” Biggs, Thomas Elmqvist and Per Olsson on exclusive list of world’s most influential researchers