Building capacity for improved inclusion of traditional knowledge

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The Darwin Project in Guyana – “Integrating traditional knowledge into national policy and practice” this week facilitated a training course specifically aimed at building the capacity of decision-makers in the area of traditional knowledge. All project activities are aligned to support progress towards the achievement of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)’s Aichi target 18. This course addresses the urgent call for increased levels of awareness and efforts to promote the inclusion of traditional knowledge at the national level.

The current Covid-19 pandemic meant that we couldn’t offer the full in-person course as we did in February of this year, and made us think creatively of what we could do online. As such, we used our e-learning module titled ‘Traditional knowledge: it’s importance and relevance’ as the focus of the training. The content of the e-module was prepared through dialogue with several governmental and non-governmental agencies in Guyana to identify needs and opportunities for traditional knowledge inclusion and engagement with Indigenous peoples. It is designed to be taken as a stand-alone course, as well as part of an in-person 2-day workshop which combines knowledge with practical skills for working with Indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge.

Our e-module training had 25 participants enrolled from various organisations in Guyana, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, Iwokrama International Centre and the National Toshaos Council Secretariat. We were also pleased to have participants from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Anton de Kom University and the Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname. There was also one participant from French Guiana representing the Amazonian French Guiana’s Park Authority.

Participants were given two weeks to complete the e-module at their own pace. This was then followed by an online session organised to facilitate a discussion about the content and give participants an opportunity to share lessons learnt, discuss best practices and plan actions on what they had learnt from the course.

One participant expressed his appreciation for the training saying “I found the e-module very comprehensive. I learned a lot and really appreciated the case studies which helped to put things into perspective”. Other participants said that their current work already requires them to work closely with Indigenous peoples, but this course has really helped them to think about how they might better engage and foster better relationships for improved collaboration in executing their activities.

In closing remarks, the training team charged each participant with the responsibility of sharing key takeaways from the course with their colleagues and encouraged them to be champions within their organisation for the inclusion of traditional knowledge.

Jay Mistry
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Professor of Geography - Royal Holloway University of London

Jay has more than 22 years’ experience in teaching, researching and building capacity for natural resource management with local communities. Her particular interests include supporting local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, local environmental governance, action research using participatory video and capacity building for natural resource management.