Weathering uncertainty traditional knowledge for climate change assessment and adaptation

27 Sep 2012

This UNESCO report looks into the damaging effects of climate change on Indigenous cultures.
When considering climate change, indigenous peoples and marginalized populations warrant particular attention. Impacts on their territories and communities are anticipated to be both early and severe due to their location in vulnerable environments, including small islands, high-altitude zones, desert margins and the circumpolar Arctic.
Indeed, climate change poses a direct threat to many indigenous societies due to their continuing reliance upon resource-based livelihoods. Heightened exposure to negative impacts, however, is not the only reason for specific attention and concern.
As many indigenous societies are socially and culturally distinct from mainstream society, decisions, policies and actions undertaken by the majority, even if well-intended, may prove inadequate, ill-adapted, and even inappropriate. There is therefore a need to understand the specific vulnerabilities, concerns, adaptation capacities and longer-term aspirations of indigenous peoples and marginalized communities throughout the world. Indigenous and traditional knowledge contribute to this broader understanding.

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