TK & Water Management

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Home » Thematic Areas » TK & Biological Resources » TK & Water Management

TK & Water Management


The issue of water management touches upon core differences between western scientific thought and indigenous knowledge systems and has the potential to illustrate the real life context to which international debates apply. Exploring the interlinkages between global water issues and Indigenous Knowledge systems is key for developing sustainable solutions to pressing water resource challenges.  The TK & Water Management project aims to document these water management solutions and to facilitate their recognition and inclusion in international policy.

Recent Events

Professorship on Water and Cultural Diversity

In October 2010, Professor Dipak Gyawali began his tenure as the UNU-UNESCO Joint Water and Cultural Diversity Professors.  During his time in Japan, Prof. Gyawali raised awareness of the importance of cultural diversity in sustainable water resource management through public lectures, participation at the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (COP-10), and various formal and informal discussions with government representatives, relevant stakeholders, and university professors.  Abstracts of Prof. Gyawali's public lectures can be downloaded here.  

Past Events

International Symposium in Kyoto, Japan, 1-3 October 2009
“Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?”
The objective of this international symposium is to encourage global recognition of, and respect for, cultural diversity in water resources management, in order to facilitate collaborative actions for sustainability of water and cultures. During the symposium, various case studies from all world regions and cultures will be presented.  The case studies will demonstrate the ways in which culture affects, and is affected by, the myriad interactions between people and water, thereby highlighting the importance of cultures in bringing forth solutions to water problems and the sustainability of these solutions. By bringing together various institutions and experts and by taking an integrated and transdisciplinary approach, the symposium will consolidate suggestions on ways to incorporate cultural diversity concerns into watershed management and water resource development. The symposium will be hosted by RIHN and is being co-organized by RIHN, UNU-IAS TKI and UNESCO-IHP.

Three Side Events at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, May 2009
“Indigenous Women, Climate Change and Water”
“Indigenous Peoples, Water, and Peace”
“Our Sacred Waters”

These side events were convened by the Indigenous World Forum on Water and Peace with sponsorship from the UNU-IAS TKI, the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, and the Nehiyaw Cree Language and Cultural Society.  At the sessions, the participants developed a collective statement that was presented to the 8th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Panel Session at the 5th World Water Forum Istanbul, March 2009
 “Traditional Knowledge Water Management and Global Environmental Change: Charting Sustainable Paths for the Future”
This session asked participants to present creative analysis and suggestive pathways for the future in relation to traditional knowledge, water resources, and global environmental change. A full summary of the session can be found here.

Garma Festival Water Forum, Australia, August 2008
“Indigenous Water Knowledge, Indigenous Water Interests: An International Indigenous Expert Exchange on Issues and Opportunities arising from Emerging Trends in Mainstream Water Management”
The purpose of this exchange was to facilitate international collaboration between experts whose work or experience relates to the relationship between Indigenous Knowledge and water.  The exchange focused on case studies from various regions of the world and featured discussions about how to integrate Traditional Knowledge in international water policy and global water management.  In preparation for the 5th World Water Forum, participants compiled a set of recommendations that is currently being drafted into a Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, Traditional Knowledge, and Water Resources.

Publications, Guides and Declarations

Best Practice Regional Analysis (forthcoming 2011)
“Many 10% Solutions: Water, Cultural Diversity and Global Environmental Change”
This publication aims to draw on the wealth of existing material in various regions of the world on the topic of how the interests of Indigenous peoples in relation to water management, particularly in relation to the maintenance of traditional knowledge systems, are reflected in mainstream policy processes, and to reflect on Indigenous Peoples levels of engagement in such processes.  Regional analysis and case studies submitted by Indigenous experts will be compiled to draw together key lessons for Indigenous communities and mainstream policy makers.

Publications from the UNESCO Water and Cultural Diversity Project

For more information on the TK & Water Management project please contact Ameyali Ramos (ramos[@]

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