School of Arts & College of Humanities

Participatory biocultural documentation for sustainable resource stewardship and climate adaptation

Development of a user manual on participatory biocultural documentation to facilitate local engagement in place-based climate efforts for application across the IUCN global network (1400 organisations across 160 countries).

The IUCN represents the world’s largest environmental network, bringing together governments, NGOs, scientists, businesses, and local communities to reduce vulnerability to climate change through enhanced biodiversity conservation. In August 2023, the IUCN NL commissioned Musicians Without Borders (MWB) to develop a pilot project in North Kivu, using locally apposite cultural mechanisms to bring citizens – their values and identities - into climate adaptation decision making. 

As a member of the MWB research advisory committee, I was invited to develop a ToT methodology on participatory biocultural data collection, which was piloted in North Kivu through partnership with local NGOs, Global Vision for Africa (GVA) and Association des Scouts du Nord-Kivu (ASNK).

While participatory research may not be new, ecologists and climate scientists often struggle with how to work with people and local knowledge practices. Yet, sustainable resource stewardship and climate adaptation are inextricably linked to local cultural values and capacities, which are often embedded in cultural practices such as songs and seasonal rituals. 

Drawing on lessons learned from the pilot in North Kivu, we will develop a participatory biocultural documentation user manual that places local ways of knowing at the forefront of the data-gathering process, providing an iterative approach that makes evident corresponding values of local ontologies and intangible knowledge practices with techno-scientific processes and practices.