UNESCO publishes case studies on living heritage and climate change in East Africa

  • 18 January 2022
Some women showing how they cook using metallic barrel and washing basin during the flood, South Soudan
Some women showing how they cook using metallic barrel and washing basin during the flood, South Soudan
© UNESCO

UNESCO has published a series of case studies as part of the pilot project to support research and documentation on traditional knowledge systems, recognized as part of communities’ living heritage, for biodiversity conservation, climate change and disaster risk reduction in East Africa.

Carried out in 2021, the project saw national research teams mobilized in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda to undertake research on traditional knowledge systems linked to biodiversity conservation, climate change or disaster risk reduction.

They received guidance from an Advisory Panel bringing together different organizations in the field, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). The project also contributed to strengthening synergies between the UNESCO Science and Culture Sectors by drawing on guidance, resources, and networks of both the Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) Programme and Living Heritage Entity.

The final publication presents the seven case studies, which cover several topics and aspects of climate change across those countries. They collectively demonstrate how living heritage contain detailed knowledge about local flora and fauna and ecosystems. Yet, at the same time, these knowledge and practices are embodied in broader social and cultural contexts, which shape how communities understand and relate to the world. The transmission of these knowledge and practices thus carries and engrains values toward nature, often fostering notions of respect and connectivity with the environment.

The UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa coordinated the pilot project and produced the publication in collaboration with the University of Seychelles. An online regional conference was held on 30 April 2021, where national research teams shared their experience and prepared short video documentaries.

To read the publication, visit the online page.

Learn more about living heritage and indigenous peoples.
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