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The ancient conservation and adaptation practices used by indigenous peoples around the world to maintain their livelihoods are being incorporated into modern adaptation strategies that effectively respond to the local context.

The impacts of climate change have become increasingly apparent across the globe with the stark rise in the severity and frequency of natural disasters in recent years. While researchers, development practitioners and policymakers grapple with the best course of action to take us into an uncertain future, indigenous people – many of whom live in some of the most hostile environments in the world – have learnt to live with and adapt to the challenges brought about by climate change. From pastoralists surviving in the arid conditions of sub-Saharan Africa to villagers living in the volatile environments of small island states in the Caribbean and Pacific, indigenous communities use the knowledge and practices passed on from the experiences of their ancestors to sustainably maintain their livelihoods and improve their resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The proven potential of the vast array of knowledge accumulated by these different communities, often referred to as indigenous knowledge (IK), has led many in the development community to advocate the integration of IK into climate adaptation strategies. “The key question regarding IK is: what can we learn from the users and farmers who are at the frontline of the effects of climate change as they pursue their daily livelihood?” says Oluyede Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator at CTA.