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

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.

At COP26 in Glasgow, Indigenous Quechua farmers from the Potato Park in Peru and Mijikenda farmers from the Rabai sacred Kaya forest landscape (Kenya) shared their enormous wisdom about resilient crops, farming practices and nutritious foods. Watch a full recording of the event.

Indigenous Peoples’ local agroecological food systems bring valuable lessons of resilience for policymakers heading to next month’s UN Food Systems Summit.

Biodiversity policymakers negotiating the new international framework at the upcoming global biodiversity summit (CBD COP15) must ensure traditional knowledge and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLC) are integrated across all post-2020 targets aimed at saving the world’s biodiversity.

Projects and outputs

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.
View of the town of Pisaq in Peru, near the Potato Park Biocultural Heritage Territory
IIED worked with partners in China, India, Kenya and Peru to explore how the interlinked traditional knowledge, biodiversity, culture and landscapes – the biocultural heritage – of Indigenous Peoples can contribute to sustainable development.