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Traditional Knowledge-based Innovation in the Age of Climate Change

October 17, 2015 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

In this breakout session of the Arctic Circle conference, chaired by Professor Robin Crimes, Chief Science Adviser, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK, seven experts provided keynote presentations to inform an interactive discussion for all participants on traditional knowledge and climate change innovation.

Traditional knowledge is increasingly recognized as an important component to identifying and understanding climate change, including weather patterns, ocean phenomena, and other ecological changes through personal observation. In the Arctic, this is seen in its inclusion in major scientific and social science reports, like the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and the Arctic Human Development Report.

Traditional knowledge is important in constructing historical environmental baselines, identifying impacts that need to be mitigated, providing observational evidence for modeling, offering technologies for adapting, and identifying culturally appropriate values for protection from direct impacts or from the impacts of adaptation measures themselves. It is seen as both a sentinel-like warning system for climate change and a critically valuable approach to low-carbon sustainable lifestyles and localized adaptation strategies. It complements scientific data, filling in observation gaps and supplementing scientific findings on shifting atmospheric and oceanic systems, and often helps to focus scientific research on data to support indigenous safety and subsistence needs.

However, there has been little discussion around the inclusion of traditional knowledge in climate innovation and economic enterprises focused on mitigation and adaptation. This workshop sought to fill this current gap by fostering a dialogue between business, traditional knowledge holders, and researchers of Arctic innovation. By bringing together indigenous representatives, innovation policymakers, northern entrepreneurs and researchers, it aimed to ensure that future climate ventures are aligned with local interests and take into account the inherent resources in traditional knowledge.

Managing Director Victoria Herrmann began the event by identifying the gaps between traditional knowledge, entrepreneurship, and climate change in the North. Jessica Shadian, the Nansen Professor at the University of Akureyri, presented on traditional knowledge and its importance in search and rescue monitoring and preparation. Jens-Ivar Nergård at the Arctic University of Norway provided a broad overview of Indigenous ways of knowing in the high north in regard to climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Thomas Thornton, professor at Oxford University, offered a framework for discovering and building adaptive capacity in relation to environmental changes through an innovative matrix. Ola S. Smeby of Innovation Norway provided an example of climate innovation through energy efficiency using traditional knowledge in the Barents region of Norway. Finn Danielsen of NORDECO presented an innovative, inclusive model for natural resource decision-making using local and traditional knowledge in the Arctic. And finally, Parnuna Egede of Aalborg University offered an exciting way for traditional knowledge holders to be part of northern economic and climate innovations through crowdsourcing and haktivation tools.

This event was co-organized by the UK Science & Innovation Network.


October 17, 2015
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
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