The Guna Yala dialogue in 2012 was a key event in an on-going dialogue process beginning with the Jokkmokk meeting in 2011 on connecting indigenous, local, and scientific knowledge systems for enhanced ecosystem governance. It brought together participants representing indigenous peoples and local communities, scientists, policymakers as well as governments. The overarching goal was to facilitate better exchange and cross-fertilization among diverse knowledge systems in an equal, legitimate and transparent way, for the benefit of sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems

The International Dialogue Workshop “Knowledge for the 21st Century; Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Knowledge, Science and Connecting Diverse Knoweldge Systems” – or the Guna Yala Dialogue – was held in April 2012 in the Usdub Community of the indigenous territory of Comarca Guna Yala, Panama, with FPCI as the local host. This was just before the plenary meeting that established the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Panama City. The dialogue was organised by SwedBio in collaboration with the National Programme on local and Traditional Knowledge (NAPTEK) and the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB).

The dialogue workshop responded to a demand expressed in several global science-policy initiatives such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the developing Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). In addition, the dialogue and its outcomes were expected to benefit also other initiatives, such as cultural revitalization projects, as carried out by researchers, communities, NGOs, or any other actors.

The specific aims of the workshop were:

  • To contribute to strengthened exchange and cross-fertilization between knowledge systems concerning ecosystems and human-nature relationships in an equal, legitimate, and transparent way
  • To outline the context of connecting diverse knowledge systems, including indigenous knowledge, traditional knowledge, local knowledge and experiential knowledge as well as scientific knowledge with the final aim of contributing to ecosystem governance for a sustainable future
  • To contribute to novel approaches for inclusion of diverse knowledge systems into knowledge generation, ecosystem assessments and capacity building in knowledge related processes such as in the IPBES

Directly after the dialogue workshop, the results from the dialogue helped inform the second session of the plenary meeting on the IPBES in Panama, and bolstered openness and support for Indigenous knowledge and diverse knowledge systems in the work of IPBES. The aim of recognition and respect for indigenous and local knowledge was established, and IPBES is now working onwards is to develop methods for how is should be done.

The dialogue fully reached its aims, and continues to contribute through the process it started of interaction based on equity and reciprocity across knowledge systems. The increasing interest and commitment for Community Based Monitoring and Information Systems, the development of the Multiple Evidence Based approach, which are now both welcomed and accepted as concepts are part of this process.

Download the full summary report of the presentations and discussions that took place during the four days of intensive dialogue or learn more about the dialogue here.