When bridging in-between different knowledge systems and actors it is important to have a clear framework and transparent principles and procedures to guide the motivation, character and intent of the various collaborative initiatives undertaken
These following guiding principles are applicable in all SwedBio’s collaborations, in its knowledge interface role and as part of the Collaborative Programme
All sharing of knowledge has to be based on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), through the whole process. Existing frameworks and guidelines that are important starting points in SwedBio’s work are for example; the international human rights framework, including the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the CBD Tkarihwaié:ri Code of Ethical Conduct; the Akwé: Kon guidelines for impact assessment as well as relevant guidance from the Nagoya protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing.
In successful knowledge collaborations across knowledge systems and cultures the attitudes framing the exchange are essential. Some primary principles are respect for diversity, trust, reciprocity and equal sharing.
Transparent open communication and mutual sharing and learning are important, and should integrate emancipatory processes. The collaborators should consider how they might wish to manage:
Keeping these general management considerations in mind, SwedBio focuses on some of the following principles for knowledge collaborations:
Participation & Representation
Collaborations should create space for meaningful and culturally appropriate participation of representatives of social groups. All collaborations should begin with clarity on how to manage who should be involved and for what purpose in the collaborations. It is important to have a transparent process and manage expectations.
Women & Gender
Women and men have different roles in many aspects of life. Integrating a gender ‘lens’ or ‘dimension’ in the entirety of the collaborative process will better enable the facilitation and support team and other key actors to understand, accommodate and support the specific rights, roles, needs, and aspirations of more marginalised groups (which often includes women).
The Multiple Evidence Base approach (MEB)
The MEB approach emphasizes complementarity and equitable and transparent processes for connecting across knowledge systems. Fundamental values such as respect, trust, reciprocity, and equal sharing need to characterize all interactions at all scales. MEB emphasizes that it is important to establish frameworks to promote and enable equal and transparent connections between knowledge systems, to level any power dynamics, to empower communities, in order to fulfill the potential of knowledge synergies for equitable ecosystem governance.
To enable successful synergies across knowledge systems, there is a need for intercultural dialogues, which promote credibility and legitimacy. The MEB is an approach for generating the levels of trust and respect required for dialogues leading to changing mental models and widened perceptions of how knowledge systems can cross-fertilize among all knowledge holders. The development of procedures concerning problem definition, assessment processes, and the evaluation of findings needs to involve co-design, co-generation and collaboration with relevant actors from the onset.
Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ Rights, including the Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent
Knowledge collaborations need to have respect for and realisation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, including their right to provide or deny free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) regarding activities that take place on their lands and territories, or otherwise affect them. The decision to provide or withhold FPIC is an ongoing process, not a single moment or one-off event. At any stage of engagement with external actors, a community has a right to seek more information, say “no”, or withdraw entirely. Customary means of consensus-building or other forms of decision-making can be used as the basis for culturally appropriate FPIC processes. By definition, FPIC processes must respect the community’s timelines and self-determined processes and must not be driven or influenced by project proponents.
Indigenous & Community Ownership
Knowledge collaborations should preferably be driven and created by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, or in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs). If created by others the principles specified here are important to follow. Power relations between Indigenous peoples and local communities and dominant societies are often highly imbalanced and inequitable.
Collaborations should aim to be emancipatory, participatory, and representative of local realities. It should be recognised that indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ relationships with their territories and areas are an integral source of their identities, cultures and well-being. The emphasis on Indigenous methodologies and approaches lays the foundations for bridging complementary systems of traditional indigenous and mainstream knowledge (as in the MEB approach above). Since often knowledge generation through for example collaborations between scientists and practitioner lead to new knowledge, data or information, it should be made clear at the beginning of any collaboration who owns any information or data generated from the collaboration.