Emphasizing Indigenous and local knowledge in the latest IPCC report 

Anna Schlingmann, March 31, 2022

Photo by Anna Schlingmann

On 28 February 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the latest report from the Working Group II, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, in which researchers from all over the world have collected, compiled and updated current knowledge on climate change impacts, adaptation options and hindrances, and implications for vulnerability.

In recent years, the IPCC has increasingly recognized the significance of incorporating Indigenous and local knowledge into climate change agenda. While in previous reports the focus was mainly placed on scientific knowledge, Indigenous and local knowledge has receded into the background in form of marginal notes. However, in recent years the IPCC has started to increase its efforts towards more inclusive approaches on Indigenous and local knowledge, hence towards a more balanced representation of different knowledge systems.

Several LICCI members and partners, including Victoria Reyes-García, Xiaoyue Li, Anna Schlingmann and Eranga Galappaththi, have contributed to chapter five “Food, Fibre, and other Ecosystem Products” in the second IPCC report. In their work, they reviewed, aggregated and summarized recent research on the current and future contribution and importance of Indigenous and local knowledge systems for the understanding and reduction of climate change impacts in the food systems. When Indigenous Peoples and local communities  “[…] (have) access to and control over their lands and natural resources, food systems can potentially be more sustainably managed and more resilient.” For example, preserving locally adapted native crops and promoting diversified cropping systems such as milpa can help against climate shocks such as drought or cold waves, without the need for expensive and toxic chemical fertilizers. Furthermore, a culture of sharing and mutual support increases the resilience of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, not only in times of stress and emergency.

Nevertheless, given the rate of current and future climate change is unprecedented for human society, nature resource-based livelihoods and well-being of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are and will be at least challenged, if not threatened, and local responses to new stresses will be needed.

It is therefore inevitable to foster bottom-up adaptation in form of co-operations and co-management with Indigenous Peoples and local communities to strengthen sustainable and successful adaptation to climate change.

Read the full report here.