FAO and Traditional Knowledge: The Linkages with Sustainability, Food Security and Climate Change Impacts


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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Rome 2009


In developed and developing countries all over the world, farmers and indigenous and local communities have traditional knowledge, expertise, skills and practices related to food security and to food and agricultural production and diversity. Since its creation in 1945, FAO has recognized the significant contributions these make to food and agriculture, and the relevance of on-farm/in situ and ex situ conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture. Over the decades, FAO has included traditional and local knowledge and activities in policies, programmes and projects related to a wide range of issues, including farmers’ rights, poverty alleviation, nutrition and health, and gender equity, among many others. More recently, it has used traditional knowledge to tackle the emerging problems of soaring food prices and climate change. Traditional farming, fishing, pastoralism/herding, foraging and forestry are based on longestablished knowledge and practices that help to ensure food and agricultural diversity, valuable landscape and seascape features, livelihoods and food security. However, traditional livelihoods and indigenous plant varieties, landraces and animal breeds are now increasingly endangered by large-scale commercialization of agriculture, population dynamics, land-use/cover changes and the impacts of climate change. FAO is developing innovative projects that support the use of traditional knowledge to promote rural development, gender equity, conservation of biocultural diversity, and sustainable management of agro-ecosystems, among others. At the same time, the projects seek to manage the risks to food and agriculture that result from natural and human-induced disasters, climate change impacts, soaring food prices and other emerging issues. FAO is also promoting international and interdisciplinary collaboration to strengthen the interface between traditional knowledge and cutting-edge science and technology, to help maintain and enhance the world’s food and agricultural diversity and sustainability.

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