Perspective | Published:

Including indigenous knowledge and experience in IPCC assessment reports

Nature Climate Change volume 6, pages 349353 (2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

The IPCC is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change, forming the interface between science, policy and global politics. Indigenous issues have been under-represented in previous IPCC assessments. In this Perspective, we analyse how indigenous content is covered and framed in the Working Group II (WGII) portion of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). We find that although there is reference to indigenous content in WGII, which increased from the Fourth Assessment Report, the coverage is general in scope and limited in length, there is little critical engagement with indigenous knowledge systems, and the historical and contextual complexities of indigenous experiences are largely overlooked. The development of culturally relevant and appropriate adaptation policies requires more robust, nuanced and appropriate inclusion and framing of indigenous issues in future assessment reports, and we outline how this can be achieved.

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Acknowledgements

This work benefited from funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, ArcticNet, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) and the International Development Research Centre.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Geography, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke, Montreal, Canada, H3A 089

    • James D. Ford
    • , Laura Cameron
    •  & Michelle Maillet
  2. Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) Programme, Natural Sciences Sector, UNESCO, 7 Place de Fontenoy 75352 Paris 07 SP, France

    • Jennifer Rubis
    •  & Douglas Nakashima
  3. Department of Nursing & Indigenous Studies, Cape Breton, University, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, B1P 6L2

    • Ashlee Cunsolo Willox
  4. Sustainability Research Institute, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

    • Tristan Pearce

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Contributions

J.D.F. conceptualized and wrote the paper and analysed the data. L.C. performed the content analysis and assisted with writing. J.R., D.N., A.C.W., M.M. and T.P. helped write the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James D. Ford.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2954

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