IPBES Dialogue Workshop on indigenous and local knowledge.

Sezdebek Kalkanbekov, a guardian of Kochkor-Ata sacred site, and Aibek Samakov, a researcher at Aigine CRC, are participating in the IPBES Dialogue Workshop on indigenous and local knowledge, Paris, 11-13 January 2016.

The main goal of the workshop is providing inputs of Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK) for IPBES assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services. 
Key themes include: a) land degradation and restoration; b) sustainable use and conservation; and/or c) invasive alien species and their control.

Sezdbek Kalkanbekov and Aibek Samakov presented a collaborative paper on Sacred Sites and biocultural diversity conservation in Kyrgyzstan: co-production of knowledge between traditional practitioners and scholars.

This paper showed evidence from all regions of Kyrgyzstan for claiming that sacred sites represent a traditional model of biocultural diversity conservation. Traditional knowledge, beliefs and practices related to sacred sites form a backbone of traditional institutions (such as an institution of sacred site guardians) and rules of behavior on sacred sites. These rules and institutions promote conservation and sustainable use of sacred sites by local communities.

The second part of the paper revealed the specificity of co-production of knowledge between sacred site guardians and researchers based on Aigine’s studies of sacred sites in 2005-2015. Kalkanbekov Sezdbek noted that scholars should treat ILK as knowledge and wisdom as opposed to breaking down ILK to baseline data and/or information. Aibek Samakov seconded this opinion and mentioned that Aigine CRC compiles its publications in such a way that accommodates best local voices and opinions.

The participants asked question about the institution of sacred site guardians and whether there are threats to the sacred sites. Mr. Kalkanbekov explained how one becomes a sacred site guardian and told the audience about the most recent process of self-organization among sacred site guardians in Kyrgyzstan. As for the threats, he pointed out that newly imported denominations of radical Islam condemn a practice of visiting sacred sites and advocate for religious, cultural and even physical struggle against sacred sites.

Aigine CRC was selected to participate in this workshop as a leading organization in the region in researching traditional knowledge and co-producing knowledge with traditional practitioners. Participation of Sezdebek Kalkanbekov and Aibek Samakov is sponsored by Indigenous Knowledge Section of UNESCO.

IPBES – Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is an independent intergovernmental body open to all member countries of the United Nations. IPBES was created to address the challenge of unprecedented rate od biodiversity loss and decline of ecosystem services.