IPBES recognizes that indigenous peoples and local communities possess detailed knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem trends. This knowledge is formed through their direct dependence on their local ecosystems, and observations and interpretations of change generated and passed down over many generations, and yet adapted and enriched over time. Indigenous peoples and local communities from around the world often live in remote areas, interacting with nature and managing resources that contribute to society at large. They also suffer directly from the pressures of expanding agriculture frontiers and commodity production, such as mining, logging, and energy. They are often better placed than scientists to provide detailed information on local biodiversity and environmental change, and are important contributors to the governance of biodiversity from local to global levels.

This commitment was first outlined in Deliverable 1(c): Procedures, approaches and participatory processes for working with indigenous and local knowledge systems for the work programme of 2014 to 2018. This commitment has now been renewed in Objective 3 (b) “Enhanced recognition of and work with indigenous and local knowledge systems”.

Our work

Recognising the importance of indigenous and local knowledge to the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems as a cross-cutting issue relevant to all of its activities, IPBES established a task force on indigenous and local knowledge systems and agreed on terms of reference guiding its operations implementing this deliverable. Much of IPBES' work with indigenous peoples and on ILK has been coordinated by the Technical Support Unit (TSU) on Indigenous and Local Knowledge, hosted by UNESCO.

Key activities and deliverables include:

  • The development and implementation of the "approach to recognizing and working with ILK in IPBES", which was formally approved by the Plenary at its fifth meeting in 2017 
  • Development and implementation of methodological guidance for recognizing and and working with ILK in IPBES
  • Development and implementation of a "participatory mechanism", a series of activities and pathways to facilitate the participation of IPLC in IPBES assessments and other activities
  • Organizing ILK dialogue workshops for the assessments, most recently for the assessments on sustainable use of wild species, values of nature and invasive alien species  
  • Regional and pollination workshop reports
  • Development of an ILK library of materials as a resource for IPBES authors 
  • Development of a roster and network of experts to support the Platform’s work