Local and Indigenous Knowledge in ‘Expert’ Climate Dialogues

NewsLocal and Indigenous Knowledge in ‘Expert’ Climate Dialogues

Originally posted:  CLARA 

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Experience in Colombia shows that local and cultural climate perspectives must be included in high-level policy making.

Organisations and individuals involved 

Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad and the Investigation Group Cultura y Ambiente of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. 

Andrea Prieto 



In eight (8) areas of Colombia: Valle de Tenza (Cundinamarca y Boyacá), Fosca (Cundinamarca), Timaná (Huila), Cumbal (Nariño), Chorrera and Villazul (Amazonas), Bogotá, Upper Guajira, and Upper Putumayo.

NO ONE DISPUTES the use of climate science as a guide to understanding the scale of mitigation and adaptation responses needed. At the same time, diversifying the sources of inputs to the climate modeling community by including culturally- and territorially-grounded perspectives would improve both social inclusion and scientific predictive capacity. 

The research initiative ‘Cultural and Local Climate Perspectives in Colombia’ was carried out over two years by an interdisciplinary team including professionals, students and indigenous researchers, who made visible diverse knowledge, relationships, and strategies that exist in relation to environmental and climate transformations in different areas of the country. The initiative highlighted the importance of including within expert dialogue the traditional knowledge held by indigenous, small-scale farming, and urban communities.

 The research found that particularly relevant to analyzing climate change in Colombia are: the inclusion of indigenous, small-scale farmer, and urban perspectives; the dialogue with public policies; the inclusion of a gender perspective; the generation of intercultural and interdisciplinary methodological approaches; the projection of the research in national and international arenas; the consolidation of national and international research networks; the creation of contextual analyses; and the establishment of cultural strategies for territorial and environmental management. In addition, tangible results in the form of working papers, books, presentations, trainings for government employees, and national and international events were produced. 

It is crucial to connect local knowledge with the knowledge of climatologists and meteorologists, among others, in the production and analysis of strategies regarding national and global climate transformations. Cultural perspectives, practices, and responses are not homogeneous as they respond to diverse cultural histories and experiences. The same is true for policies and actions—they cannot be addressed in a homogeneous way. Therefore, it must be a priority to make visible the knowledge and actions of different indigenous peoples, small-scale farmer communities, and urban populations who have not been included in the national climate change discussions, but who have important knowledge on and responses to the impacts they face due to climate transformations.

‘Missing Pathways’ to climate action

This example follows ‘Missing Pathways’ to climate action buy

 understanding the importance of community and indigenous knowledge, and by strengthening climate policy through inclusion of this knowledge, to the effect of transforming agriculture and food systems. This action opens the door to governance and management policies that are more rooted in territorial realities. Respecting how communities relate to nature and taking into account their responses to climate change favors their well-being and survival. Making visible, and promoting local agricultural practices helps to maintain and improve the sustainability of rural food production, whilst on the other hand benefitting the climate through less carbon-intensive and polluting systems

Transformational change in land management starts with respecting rights.

Limiting temperature rise, and realizing ambition on the basis of equity


  • Restoring Forests and other Ecosystems
  • Ecosystem Restoration
  • Natural Regeneration
  • Avoiding Conversion Of Natural Ecosystems
  • Responsible Use Of Forests

    Transforming Agriculture
  • Demand (consumption)
  • Healthy Diets
  • Reducing Food Miles
  • Reducing Waste


  • Supply (production) 
  • Ecological Livestock Production
  • Agroforestry
  • Reducing Synthetic Nitrogen Use


  • Indigenous and Community Land Rights
  • Tenure Security
  • Collective Land Management
  • Protection of Lands and Forests

This action prioritises the making-visible of indigenous knowledges and, by association, the requirement to maintain and respect indigenous and community land rights towards continued inclusion of local knowledge in expert decision making.

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