Biocultural Heritage

Promoting resilient farming systems and local economies

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Farmers sharing potatoes in the Potato Park, Peru

About this website

Biocultural Heritage (BCH) refers to the knowledge and practices of indigenous people and their biological resources, from the genetic varieties of crops they develop, to the landscapes they create. As indigenous peoples have adapted to harsh climates over many generations, this heritage is important for food security in the face of climate change.

This website shows how the concept of biocultural heritage can be used to protect the bundle of rights that support indigenous peoples and local communities. It provides tools to protect and promote biocultural heritage, such as community protocols and Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) partnerships. It shares research developed through Protecting Community Rights over Traditional Knowledge and Smallholder Innovation for Resilience. It reviews policies to protect BCH at international and national level.

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Latest news and blogs

The Paris Agreement commits governments to climate action. To deliver this agenda successfully, they must engage with all sectors of society, including indigenous communities, and recognise traditional knowledge.

Respect for the spiritual values and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples is a key component in the response to climate change, as was today asserted by an agreement between the Center for Earth Ethics (CEE) of Union Theological Seminary, the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED) at Columbia University, and the Indigenous Peoples Biocultural Assessments Initiative (IPBCCA) of Asociacion ANDES.

For those mountain communities living at the extreme edges of the world, climate change is already a very real threat. Researchers are calling for vulnerable communities to be given special consideration in the Paris negotiations next month.
The Sustainable Development Goals have been agreed, but for mountain communities around the world this action can't come quickly enough. Climate change is already here, threatening their food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

This week, from 11-18th September, indigenous mountain farmers from 20 communities in 10 countries are meeting in Tajikistan to assess the impacts of climate change and identify responses needed.

Projects and outputs

A herbalist providing information on medicinal and food plants occurring in Kaya Kinondo

This five-year project (2012-2017) aims to strengthen biocultural innovation for food security in the face of climate change, in China, India, Kenya and Peru.

Indian musicians

This participatory action-research project in China, India, Kenya, Panama and Peru (2004-2009) developed the concept of Collective Biocultural Heritage as its common framework for research.