Biocultural Heritage

Promoting resilient farming systems and local economies

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Leaders at COP29 urged to ‘significantly’ increase funding given directly to groups conserving precious resources and ecosystems.

In November 2023, IIED, INMIP, ANDES (Peru) and partners organised side events at two global policy meetings on traditional knowledge and genetic resources: the Biodiversity Convention Working Group on Article 8J, and the FAO Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources.

The International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples (INMIP) brings together mountain communities from 11 countries as they seek to revitalise biocultural heritage for climate-resilient and sustainable food systems. IIED provides communications, advocacy and capacity support for INMIP.
A group of people sit on the floor under a tree.
This project aims to protect biodiversity and improve livelihoods in the Mijikenda’s sacred Kaya forest landscapes in Kenya. It will establish a biocultural heritage territory that empowers Kaya elders to enforce traditional conservation rules and promote agroecological practices.

An approach to development practice from the Indigenous cultures of the Andes that promotes ecological harmony.

If the world is to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, we must support Indigenous Peoples and local communities to strengthen and protect their territories and cultures, and ensure their full and meaningful participation in developing conservation policy.

A group of people look at a TV screen, in front of which a computer shows how they appear on the screen.

From 22-24 March 2023, 10,000 people gathered in New York for the UN Water Conference, hosted by the Netherlands and Tajikistan, to scale up action to address the water crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation.

Mountains crucial to halting nature loss and addressing climate change. For millennia, Indigenous and traditional peoples’ cultural and spiritual values and traditional knowledge have played a crucial role in conserving and enhancing biodiversity in mountain landscapes.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Exploring the concept of Biocultural Heritage, which comes from the lived experience of Indigenous Peoples and is critical to the success of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework up for negotiation in Kunming later this year.

Mainstream Western economics is destroying the environment - and the Indigenous knowledge that has conserved nature for millennia.

On 2nd of December, the Mexican Parliament voted unanimously to include the protection of biocultural heritage and promotion of agroecology in Mexico’s Law on Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection.