Indigenous and local communities in Africa have utilized their knowledge systems to respond to changing climatic conditions for centuries.
Following the operationalization of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, African governments should tap into traditional knowledge systems in the design and implementation of their climate change response strategies.
22 January 2019: African governments should tap into indigenous and local communities’ traditional knowledge systems in the design and implementation of their climate change response strategies. This is the central argument of an op-ed by indigenous peoples’ rights expert Kanyinke Sena.
Indigenous and local communities in Africa have utilized their knowledge systems to respond to changing climatic conditions for centuries, Sena writes in a piece published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy. Sena is currently Co-Chair of the IUCN Specialist Group on Indigenous Peoples, Customary and Environmental Law, and Human Rights.
Lack of African countries’ participation in the LCIPP negotiations at COP 24 is another missed opportunity.
The operationalization of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC in Katowice, Poland, advances the Paris Agreement requirement that climate action be based on and guided by indigenous, traditional, and local knowledge. The LCIPP is a platform for the exchange of experiences and best practices on climate change mitigation and adaptation based on such knowledge. However, African governments pay little attention to traditional knowledge. Out of the 44 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by African countries, only nine mention traditional knowledge. In particular, traditional knowledge could help achieve the unconditional target of 15 percent to be met with own resources. Furthermore, Sena highlights, the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) NDCs Hub has no traditional knowledge agenda among its activities aiming to assist African countries to meet their NDC commitments. Finally, Sena argues, there was almost no participation by African countries in the LCIPP negotiations at COP 24, resulting in “another missed opportunity.”
The absence of enabling legal frameworks, lack of documentation, and the disintegration of traditional knowledge systems are among the challenges in integrating traditional knowledge into climate change actions identified by Sena. [IUCN CEESP News Release] [LCIPP Webpage]