Biocultural Heritage

Promoting resilient farming systems and local economies

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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

Traditional landscapes conserved by Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) across different ecosystems sustain vital ecosystem services and can deliver large-scale emission reductions. Yet despite being highly vulnerable to climate impacts, IPLCs still receive only a tiny fraction of climate aid. COP27 must provide urgent financial support to IPLC-governed organisations to protect these vital but threatened landscapes.

In the run up to the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15, a new podcast explores how a self-governed biocultural heritage territory can protect Kenya's sacred Kaya forests, and provide an effective and equitable alternative to state-run protected areas. It also examines the role of biocultural territories in conserving genetic resources and traditional knowledge for climate adaptation.

As part of IIED's series looking at how the people and organisations working with the institute are successfully creating change, Asociación ANDES, a Peruvian NGO that combines local-level support for Andean potato farming communities with international action on protecting Indigenous Peoples and biodiversity, is profiled.
 

IIED principal researcher Krystyna Swiderska discussed what can we learn from Indigenous Peoples and their food systems in an online event following the UN Food Systems Summit.

Projects and outputs

A group photo
As part of IIED's series looking at how the people and organisations working with the institute are successfully creating change, Asociación ANDES, a Peruvian NGO that combines local-level support for Andean potato farming communities with international action on protecting Indigenous Peoples and biodiversity, is profiled.
 
An elderly woman in a field holds crops in the air with both hands
IIED is working with partners in the UK, China, India and Kenya to establish a new partnership and network for interdisciplinary research on Indigenous food systems.